Changes to Employement Law October 2023

August & September Wrap – Changes to Employment Law

We launched the ‘Wrap Up’ series this year to help keep you up to date and compliant with the important changes that’ll be rolling out of the course of 2023. Keep reading to find a quick summary of the changes introduced in August & September, including key dates and what it all means you should be doing! 

For the Dec 22’ – Feb 23’ summary, click hereFor the March summary, click here. For the April & May summary, click here. For the June & July summary click here. 

Aug 1 - Paid Family & Domestic Violence Leave for Small Businesses

What Do I Need to Know?

Small business employees can now access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12-month period. Employees of non-small businesses could access the leave from 1 February 2023. Small businesses are businesses with less than 15 employees.

 

This change was introduced under the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2022, which changed the provisions for family domestic and family violence leave as outlined by the National Employment Standards (NES). 

 

The National Employment Standards (NES) are a set of minimum standards that must be given to all employees in Australia – regardless of the applicable award, registered agreement or employment contract that applies. It’s important to note that casual employees, however, only get some entitlements under the NES. There are certain state/territory laws that provide them with eligibility for entitlements such as long service leave, and there are also conditions that must be met for casual employees to access entitlements such as flexible work requests and parental leave – you can find more information in our article about employment terms & conditions and our free guide to casual employment entitlements.   

 

The entitlement for paid family and domestic violence leave (“FDV leave”) is found within the NES. Before the introduction of this new amendment, employees could request a maximum of 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave within a 12-month period, only accessible by employees that met certain conditions. This new Bill amends this entitlement so that all employees – including casuals – can access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave within a 12-month period

 

Further, the 10 days of leave are provided upfront from the employee’s commencement date, and it renews on the employee’s work anniversary. For example, if you had an individual begin employment with you today, they would have access to the 10 days FDV leave from day 1, and it would renew again this time next year and so on. Note that it’s not a leave entitlement that accumulates over time nor is it ‘carried/rolled over’ from one year to the next.  

 

What Do I Need to Do?

Small business employers need to be aware of the following:

  • Expansion of the leave – it’s 10 days now, not the former 5. 
  • Change of leave from unpaid to paid – FDV leave used to be unpaid, now employees can request up to 10 days paid FDV leave. 
  • Change in applicability – casuals are now also able to request FDV leave, and the pay is calculated on their full rate of pay not their base rate. 
  • Expansion of employee access of FDV leave through the extension of definition to include behaviour of employees former and/or current partners and/or unrelated household members.  

The most important thing for employers to do considering these changes is to ensure that all registered employment agreements, employment contracts, and any workplace policies and procedures are updated to reflect the changes. Further, all staff should be made aware of the changes and their new entitlements. 

 

For information on notice and evidence required for accessing the FDV leave, have a look at the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website here.

 

If you are a non-small business employer, please note that this change has already been effect for your workplace since February 2023.

Sept 12 – Professional Employees award changes

What Do I Need to Know?

Changes to overtime and penalty rates in the Professional Employees Award have come into effect from the first full pay period on or after the 16th of September 2023. 

Under these changes, any applicable employees working 38 hours per week or an average of 38 hours per week are entitled to overtime pay. An employee’s ordinary hours can be averaged over a period of up to 13 weeks.

An employer can also request or require an employee to work overtime if the additional hours are reasonable. Factors to consider when working out if overtime hours are reasonable include an employee’s salary or position.

Employees will also be entitled to be paid penalty rates for working at certain times and on certain days. You can find more information on this and more at the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website here.

What Do I Need to Do?

You need to ensure you’re across the changes, and update payrolls accordingly. We’d also highly recommend updating applicable employment contracts with the changes to ensure clarity between. you and any applicable staff.

As there are several things to consider here, including: the penalty changes differ between casuals and part-time/full-time employees, factors that contribute towards ‘reasonable’ overtime requests, what constitutes ‘overtime’ work, any alternatives to overtime pay etc, we’d also highly recommend reaching out to the Wizards team to discuss the changes, how it impacts your workplace specifically and how to ensure compliance. Email us at support@workplacewizards.com.au or give us a ring on 03 9087 6949.

Conversation starters:

2023-2024 Priorities: the Fair Work Ombudsman has announce their regulatory priorities for the 23-24’ period, including the industrial sectors which they’ll be focusing on in prioritising underpayments and workplace protections. Read more at the FWO website here.

Closing the Loopholes Bill: The Government announced a new bill in early September – the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing the Loopholes) Bill 2023. This bill seeks to amend the Fair Work Act in a number of ways including:

  • Amending the definition of employee and employer
  • Giving workers the right to challenge unfair contractual terms
  • Expanding the casual conversion process
  • Regulating labour hire arrangement orders
  • Criminalising wage theft & sham contracting
  • Strengthening rights to investigate underpayments
  • Strengthening healthy & safety regulations
  • Expanding the current EBA process.

The Bill is currently before Parliament with the Senate inquiry into the laws being set to early 2024. To see the current version of the Bill, head to Parliament’s website here.

Modern Award Reviews: The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is currently conducting the 2023-2024 Modern Awards review. During this review, the FWC will be considering the new object of the Fair Work Act and modern awards objective regarding job security and the need to improve access to secure work across the economy, the impact of workplace relations settings on work and care, award coverage and minimum standards for the arts and culture sector, as well as any proposals to make modern awards easier to use. You can find more information at the FWC website here.

NEXT STEPS

If you’d like some support and assistance with navigating these new changes or to resolve other workplace issues and queries, give us a call or email to chat to one of our friendly Wizards. We can help you ensure peace of mind when it comes to your obligations and legal compliance, something that’s especially important with so many reforms rolling out.  

You can call us on 03 9087 6949 or email support@workplacewizards.com.au 

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