Workplace changes are a-coming
Today, the Australian Government has introduced the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 (Bill) to Parliament which proposes several changes to the Fair Work Act 2009.
What are the key changes?
- a prohibition against:
- sexual harassment committed in “connection with work”;
- ‘pay secrecy clauses’, meaning employers will no longer be able to restrict employees from disclosing information about their remuneration to others; and
- job advertisements for below the minimum wage.
- fixed term contracts cannot be used for more than 2 years or extended more than once;
- expanding the circumstances for making flexible work arrangements to include family and domestic violence, being over 55 years of age and caring for a family member;
- the Fair Work Commission (Commission) will be able to arbitrate the flexible work arrangement disputes, andorder pay increases for workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries based on equal remuneration considerations;
- expanding the scope for multi-employer enterprise bargaining and making the Better Off Overall Test more flexible and the Commission has expanded powers to arbitrate intractable disputes;
- creation of a new dispute resolution process in the Commission (like the existing general protections dispute process) for workplace sexual harassment claims that can then be referred to a Court if not resolved in the Commission.
NES entitlement changes
One change that has now passed as law is that from 1 February 2023 (or 1 August 2023 for small business employers), all employees (including casual and part time employees) will be entitled to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave per year, up from 5.
What to do now?
Employers will need to start thinking about requests for paid family and domestic violence leave including implementing payroll adjustment and ensuring awareness as required within the organisation of the increased entitlement.
In terms of the Bill, employers should start reviewing the extent of their fixed term contract arrangements, mechanisms for dealing with flexible work requests and their policies and responses to harassment.