Important Industrial Relations Legislation Introduced – A Must Read for ALL Employers
Far reaching legislation called the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 recently was presented into Federal Parliament. If passed, it may significantly impact how you interact with your employees.
Even though on the surface it appears there are “carve outs” for small business, these carve outs ONLY apply to businesses with less than 15 employees on the payroll (including directors, part-timers and casual workers). Therefore, the majority of businesses we work with will be required to comply with this legislation if passed.
The key components impacting our clients are as follows:
- Ensuring employees are paid fairly – criminalising wage theft.
- Tougher requirements and penalties on sham contracting.
- More rights for casual employees.
- Additional right of entry provisions for unions.
Ensuring employees are paid fairly – criminalising wage theft
Introduction of a criminal offence (up to 10 years jail and very large penalties) for wage theft, for employers who intentionally underpay their employees. It will be crucial for employers to quickly self- report and rectify any inadvertent discrepancies as soon as possible.
ACTION – Review your payroll systems to ensure all employees are paid the correct hourly rates for both normal and overtime work, as well as adequately paying employees any entitlements to which they are owed.
Tougher requirements and penalties on contracting
Employers who have misrepresented employment as an independent contractor arrangement will now need to prove that they reasonably believed they were correct in classifying the worker as a contractor. Ignorance or unreasonable mistakes will not allow employers to avoid liability for this sham contracting. The definitions of employer and employee also will be amended by this legislation.
ACTION – If you have contractors who may be acting more like employees, it is time to review their arrangements and determine if your business is compliant.
More rights for casual employees
Casual employees would have the right to opt into a permanent employment pathway, if they have worked for their employer for a minimum of 6 months and believe they no longer meet the definition of ‘casual’.
ACTION – Review your list of long-term casual employees and consider costs of converting them to permanent employees.
Additional right of entry provisions for unions
The right of entry provisions in the Fair Work Act would be amended to enhance the ability of permit holders to enter a workplace and investigate suspected wage underpayments, without needing to provide a 24-hour notice period.
ACTION – By ensuring your staff are fairly and correctly paid and that your business has internal communication channels for wage errors, these steps will help to minimise the options for your staff to contact their union and complain.
Please call or click to discuss with a Macro Group Team Member if you would like further information about these changes proposed.
The Macro Group Limited AFSL:485843 Tax Agent Number 24 76 5236.
The information in this article contains general information only. We have not taken into consideration any of your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before taking any action, you should consider whether the general advice contained in this communication is appropriate to you having regard to your circumstances and needs, and seek appropriate professional advice if you think you need it. We recommend that you consult a licensed or authorised financial adviser if you require financial advice that takes into account your personal circumstances.