Proposed amendments to the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) will
result in increased penalties for contraventions of the Fair
Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the "Act"). Penalties for
contravention of the Act are determined by reference to penalty
units. The value of a penalty unit is set by section 4AA of the
Crimes Act 1914 (Cth). A current penalty unit according to
that section is $170.
The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2015 (Cth)
(the "Bill") proposes to increase the value of a penalty
unit under the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) to $180. This will
increase the maximum penalty available for a contravention of the
Act. For example, contravention of a term of a national minimum
wage order currently attracts a maximum penalty of 60 penalty units
for an individual and 300 penalty units for a corporation. If the
bill is passed, the maximum penalty for such contraventions will
increase from $10,200 to $10,800 for an individual, and from
$51,000 to $54,000 for a corporation.
Further, the Bill proposes to introduce a scheme which
implements an automatic adjustment to the value of the penalty unit
every three years in line with inflation, meaning the Bill will
likely have an enduring impact. If Parliament passes the Bill, the
changes will come into effect on 31 July 2015. Given the
substantial maximum penalties that corporations are exposed to
under the Act, this amendment will have a significant impact on
employers' exposure for contraventions of the Act.
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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