The Coalition has announced that it plans to introduce
legislation amending the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to make
"sweetheart deals" between employers and unions unlawful,
by adopting recommendations of the Heydon Royal Commission into
Trade Union Governance and Corruption ("Heydon Royal
Commission"). However, it should be noted that due to the
possibility of a hung parliament, or (at the very least) a hostile
senate, the Coalition will likely struggle to enact many of these
In a statement released on 17 June 2016,
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash stated that, if re-elected, the
Coalition would "outlaw 'corrupting
benefits'—payments between an employer and union that are
not covered by legitimate exemptions." Senator Cash went on to
remark that "Australian workers deserve to know that their
employers and their unions are acting ethically and honestly and in
their best interests ... with strong penalties for anyone that does
The Heydon Royal Commission recommended in recommendation 41 that the
Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) be amended to make it: (i) a
criminal offence for an employer to provide, offer or promise to
provide any payment or benefit to an employee organisation (i.e. a
union) or its officials; and (ii) a criminal offence for any person
to solicit, receive or agree to receive any such prohibited payment
or benefit. A maximum term of two years' imprisonment would
apply for both offences and/or a fine of $90,000. However, certain
legitimate categories of payment would be permitted, for example:
membership payments, wage claim payments, charitable donations and
payments for goods or services at the prevailing market price in
the ordinary course of business of the employee organisation.
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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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