The NSW Government on the premise of combating reduced workload
for the NSW Industrial Relations Commission ("IRC") and
to free Chief Industrial Magistrate Hart to return to the general
bench to deal with the core business of the Local Courts, has
introduced legislation, "the Industrial Relations Amendment
(Jurisdiction of Industrial Relation Commission) Bill 2009.
The Bill, passed by both Houses (but not yet proclaimed)
abolish the position of Chief industrial Magistrate
abolish the position of Industrial Magistrate ("IM");
transfer the jurisdiction of the CIM and IM to the IRC.
The CIM hears less serious offences of the OH&S Act
and its jurisdiction is limited to $55,000.
Impact of the Bill
removal of discretion by the Prosecutor to elect which forum to
bring alleged offences (S105 OH&S Act);
potentially higher penalties for less serious offences. The
maximum penalty in the IRC for a corporation is $550,000 for first
offence and $825,000 in any other case and for an individual
$55,000 for first offence and $82,500 in any other case.
Potential increase in legal costs for less serious
Whilst there is opposition to the introduction of the Model
OH&S Act in NSW by the Union movement, the introduction of
the 3 categories of offences in the Model Act would result in
broadly the same regime as now exists in NSW.
The Workplace Relations Minister Council ("WRMC") has
agreed to a framework for Model OHS Laws which will be adopted in
all jurisdictions throughout Australia. The Laws will correct the
inconsistent OHS Laws across jurisdictions to the benefit of both
employers and employees alike.
Safe Work Australia Council will prepare the draft of the
Model Act which will be released for public comment at a
date to be advised.
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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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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