On Wednesday 30 November, Queensland Parliament passed the
Industrial Relations Bill 2016 introducing significant
reforms to the State IR framework, aligning it with the federal
framework. The legislation provides State and local government
employees with a range of new workplace protections—similar
to those available to Commonwealth employees—including
anti-bullying protections and general protections. The legislation
also includes changes to the Queensland Employment Standards and
transfers jurisdiction for workplace-related anti-discrimination
claims from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to the
Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC).
In addition to repealing the existing Queensland Industrial
Relations Act 1999, amendments will be made to the Work
Health and Safety Act 2011, the Anti-Discrimination Act
1991, the Public Service Act 2008 and the
Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.
How will the Bill affect employers and employees?
Employees, contractors, subcontractors, volunteers, apprentices
and work experience students will be protected under the new
anti-bullying laws, which mirror the Fair Work Act 2009
(Cth) (FW Act). Workers experiencing bullying in the workplace will
be able to apply to the QIRC for an anti-bullying order under its
Under the general protections, which reflect those stated in
the FW Act, workers will be protected from adverse action,
coercion, misrepresentation, discrimination, dismissal and undue
Good faith bargaining obligations, similar to those under the
FW Act, have been included in the collective bargaining provisions.
The legislation also mandates a 21-day peace obligation period
during which negotiating parties cannot take industrial
Employers will be prohibited from asking or requiring full-time
employees to work more than 38 hours per week.
Employees will be entitled to ask their employer for workplace
adjustments, such as changes to their ordinary work hours, place of
work, or equipment to accommodate a disability or injury.
The Queensland Employment Standards will be changed to include
compassionate leave and up to 10 days' paid domestic and family
The Minister for Employment can no longer order protected
industrial action cessation. The QIRC will be able to make orders
to suspend or terminate the action in exceptional circumstances
only, taking into consideration substantial damage to the economy
and/or the community.
Authorised officers will continue to be able to enter a
workplace without prior notice during business hours to review time
and wage records and speak to members or eligible members about
matters concerning the IR legislation (providing the authorised
officer signals their presence and produces a copy of their
authorisation upon request).
Queensland Health, and Hospital and Health Services will
continue to be able to recoup overpayments made to employees
(deducting amounts in instalments).
These significant reforms will noticeably change the IR
landscape in a short period of time. State employers should look to
national employers and the existing federal framework for guidance
on implementing practices that comply with the legislation, as well
as update and implement policies and procedures, and train staff so
they are compliant under the new IR framework.
If you would like to read more about the changes to be
introduced under the Bill, look out for Sparke Helmore's
article in the December edition of the Queensland Law Society's
Proctor magazine. To view the Bill,
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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