March Wrap Up – Changes to Employment Law

We’ve 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.  Read on to find out what the key updates came into effect over March 2023 – including key commencement dates for any changes & a quick note on next steps.

For our Dec 22’ – Feb 23’ summary, click here.

In effect from 6 March 2023

There are new broad protections against sexual harassment in connection to work under Fair Work Act. The changes expand the previous protections around sexual harassment in the workplace and introduce expanded definitions of who is covered by these changes, including a change in the definition of ‘worker’. The Fair Work Commission’s powers have also been expanded for dealing with harassment disputes.

The onus of proof is also now on employers to demonstrate that they took all reasonable steps to stop any incidents of harassment and intervene. These changes are designed to push employers to identify, call out and eradicate unsafe and inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature in the workplace.

Checklist:

It’s no longer enough just to show that you have a policy prohibiting sexual harassment in your workplace. Consider how will you show that everyone in your workplace knows how to identify, prevent, stop, and manage inappropriate behaviour. It’s also time to look again at your current workplace policies that deal with sexual harassment in connection to work, to see if you’re compliant and/or if there are any gaps that need to be filled and reinforced. Could also be a great time to reach out and get an opinion from a professional third party – the Workplace Wizards team can help you with that!

In effect from 6 March 2023

Two new Expert Panels to be established in the Fair Work Commission (FWC). One will be for Pay Equity and one for the Care and Community sector. According to the FWC, purpose of these changes is to help ensure pay equity claims and relevant award variation applications are considered by Commission members with knowledge and experience in these areas. A dedicated research unit will also ensure that the Commission is supported with data and facts needed to help inform its work.

Checklist:

It’s a good signal for workplaces to consider what the pay gap might look like in your business and if there are any initiatives you can take to help close the gap – especially in light of Parliament recently passing the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023, which requires the publication of gender pay gaps of relevant employers with 100 or more employees. You can take a look at our breakdown of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) 2022 report which looks at the gender pay gap and provides some tips & considerations for workplaces as well as our breakdown of the new Closing the Gender Pay Gap Bill here.

NEXT STEPS

These are just a quick summary of the changes so far. There’s a lot more to come over this year! The wrap up series is intended to help you keep track at the end of each month of what’s been introduced & what it means, but knowing what they are and knowing what to do are two different things. Reach out to us anytime to chat about what you’ll need to do for your business in light of the new changes – 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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