In this article we look forward to what are likely to be
the significant employment law and workplace relations issues in
With the new Coalition Government taking steps to implement its
policy agenda, new anti-bullying laws and other legislative changes
due to start early in the new year, and a further review of the
Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the "FW
Act"), it appears that 2014 will be as, if not more,
eventful than 2013 in the employment law and workplace relations
In this article we examine issues and events which will impact
on employment law and workplace relations in 2014. We will provide
further updates on these issues and events, and any new
developments in this area, through our various publications,
seminars and webinars throughout the coming year.
New anti-bullying laws
Bullying will continue to dominate the employment law and
workplace relations landscape in 2014, with the commencement of the
new anti-bullying laws on 1 January 2014 (see our separate article
on the anti-bullying laws in this edition of
It is expected that a large number of applications will be made
to the Fair Work Commission (the
"Commission") in the first year of the
new anti-bullying laws, and we anticipate that the law in this area
will develop quickly, providing further guidance on the meaning and
operation of these laws. As noted above, we will keep you updated
on these developments throughout 2014.
From 12 March 2014, changes to the Privacy Act 1988
(Cth) (the "Privacy Act") will see the
introduction of the Australian Privacy Principles (which will
replace the current National Privacy Principles), changes around
privacy policies and notices and further regulation around
cross-border data disclosure. The changes largely relate to
increased transparency in the management of information.
The impact of these changes in the context of collection, use
and disclosure of employee information and records will vary from
business to business. Please contact PCS if you have any questions
about the impact of these changes on your business.
Productivity Commission Review
The Coalition Government has confirmed that the Productivity
Commission Review of the FW Act will commence in or about March
2014. The terms of reference for that review have not yet been
In terms of the likely impact of the Review, the Coalition has
previously stated that any recommendations arising from the review
will form part of their policy platform for the next federal
election (due in 2016).
As such, it is unclear to what extent there will be any further
changes to the FW Act during 2014, other than in the areas
Minimum Wage Review 2014
For the first time in 2014 the Commission will introduce an
early consultation process into the annual Minimum Wage Review,
allowing for the hearing of witness evidence.
Subject to sufficient interest from the parties in that process
(expressions of interest close 6 February 2014), the consultation
process will commence in March 2014 and be finalised prior to the
end of May 2014.
Consultation terms in awards
From 1 January 2014, amendments to the FW Act will change the
consultation terms in awards and enterprise agreements to provide
for consultation in relation to change in rosters or working hours
that do not otherwise amount to a "major workplace
The changes will require the employer to provide the employer
with information about the proposed changes to their rosters or
working hours, provide the employees with the opportunity to
comment on the proposed changes, and consider the employees'
comments before a decision is made whether to implement the
Unlawful termination claims
From 1 January 2014, the timeframe for making an unlawful
termination claim under the FW Act will be reduced from 60 days to
21 days, to make the timeframe consistent with those for unfair
dismissal claims and general protections claims involving
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
Applying workplace disciplinary law to a worker who suffers (or may suffer) from mental illness is complex.
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