On the 4th of September the government introduced the Closing Loopholes Bill. This bill aims to close loopholes that exist within current pay and working conditions, with a specific focus upon gig workers. It will also increase penalties for non-compliance and breaches of pay and conditions such as, imprisonment for intentionally underpaying workers.
Employer understanding of these changes is vital and we encourage you to remain informed and to act prior to implementation. Within this article we have outlined a few ways in which you can do this.
Review Worker Contracts
Do a general review of all worker contracts to ensure that minimum standards and conditions are acknowledged and upheld. This is particularly important for businesses that have ‘Regulated Workers’ which are defined as:
‘Employee-like’ workers, who perform tasks via a digital labour platform and road transport contractors. For example, food delivery platform operators and drivers.
Conduct Performance Management Reviews
As this bill poses to implement hefty finds for intentional wage theft, it is advisable that blanket performance management reviews are conducted to ensure that all workers are being appropriately compensated for their workload and that this aligns with their contracted expectations. If a worker is found to be undertaking duties beyond their contracted position, and it can be determined that an employer was aware of this, then fines and criminal charges can be imposed.
Start auditing your payroll to ensure that all workers are being paid correctly to avoid wage theft and wage exploitation. Ideally this should be done following a performance management review to account for the current worker duties, ensuring that these align with the appropriate renumeration. If duties have been conducted that extend beyond a workers current contracted description and renumeration, reimbursement will need to be made.
Review Future Labour Hire Arrangements
Getting ahead of the proposed amendments would be advisable for companies that utilise labour hire workers and independent contractors. It is likely that labour hire fees will increase because of the regulated labour hire arrangement orders that have been proposed. Therefore, businesses should review the necessity of labour hire arrangements and consider differing alternatives or budget accordingly.
Increase Awareness of Workplace Safety
Industrial manslaughter will become a crime (for most states and territories) if this Bill is passed, which will mean that employers can potentially face up to 25 years jail if gross negligence can be proven to have contributed to a worker’s death. Employers can get ahead of this by reviewing current Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) practices, increasing overall worker awareness via education and training, and by implementing penalties for non-compliance. Remember, workplace review should be holistic, from the consideration of the maintenance of a safe working environment to the monitoring of overall worker wellbeing.
The proposed Bill seeks to receive a report from the Education and Employment Legislation Committee by the 1st of February 2024, with potential implementation by early July 2024.
Beyond what we have covered in this article, the Bill also aims to see changes to the definitions and conditions surrounding casual and contract employment, and to boost the conditions for ‘gig’ workers. To read more see our article, Closing Loopholes Bill 2023. As it nears, we advise all employers to stay informed and to act, where possible, to reduce the impending workload and to maintain a position of compliance.
The AHR team can equip you with the advice and tools required to see your business compliant within evolving legislation. We can do it with you, working together to develop an overarching framework that will allow us to identify any foreseeable changes required of your business, working in consultation to implement any applicable changes. Such as, reviewing workplace policy and employee contracts (within the scope of HR Best Practice). OR, we can do it for you, stepping in as your HR and WHS department, developing and implementing a strategy to conduct Performance Management Reviews and Payroll Audits on your behalf, so you can focus upon your business and productivity.
For more information see our articles Closing Loopholes Bill 2023 – What You Need to Know and The Importance of Ensuring you are Paying the Correct Award Rates to your Employees.