‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay’ – What Employers Need to Know

by Jan 24, 2023All Posts, Fair Work, Human Resources, Industrial Relations

In response to the, ‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay’ Bill, amendments have been made to the Fair Work Act.  It is critical that employers understand these changes, as they will directly impact HR operations and what is required to remain compliant with workplace legislation.

The changes implemented will be introduced in a rolled-out capacity starting the 7th of December 2022 until the 6th of December 2023.

A summary of changes is outlined below:

Pay Secrecy

New legislation prevents employers from including terms of ‘pay secrecy’ within new contracts of employment and invalidates any existing pay secrecy terms within contracts. It further introduces employee rights to disclose information about remuneration internally or externally without adverse action.

Gender Equality

Breast Feeding, Gender Identity and Intersex Status have now been added to the list of protected attributes.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Circumstance to request flexible working arrangements have changed to include employees who are pregnant. Additionally, employers need to satisfy a greater criterion to refuse an employee’s request for flexible working arrangements. This will require employers to discuss requests with employees, to genuinely try to reach an agreement, and to provide a written refusal to employees with details of the reasonable business grounds warranting such.

Unpaid Parental Leave

Employers need to satisfy a similar criterion to that of Flexible Working Arrangements when refusing employee requests (as mentioned above).

Job Advertisements

Advertisements cannot include pay rates or remuneration that violates the Fair Work Act or corresponding instruments. Therefore, wages advertised should not breach the minimum wage and associated industry Awards.

Sexual Harassment

Aligning with the Respect@Work Bill 2022, amendments have been introduced that express the prohibition of sexual harassment in connection with the workplace. This will determine employers vicariously liable for sexual harassment that occurs within the workplace unless they can prove having taken all reasonable efforts to prevent it from happening.

Small Claims

On the 1st of July 2023, the small claims cap will increase from $20,000 to $100,000. This means more employees will have access to the small claims court for conflict resolution.

Enterprise Agreements

As of the 7th of December 2022, changes have been made to the process for terminating an Enterprise Agreement, with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) now having the capacity to approve the termination of an Enterprise Agreement that has passed its expiry date.

The FWC will also have increased authority to correct issues or errors within Enterprise Agreements when still within the ‘approval process’.

Zombie Agreements

All Zombie Agreements will automatically terminate as of the 6th of December 2023. Affected employees are to be notified and made aware of the opportunity to apply for extension (to be approved by the FWC) by the 7th of June 2023.

Fixed Term Contracts

The prohibition of fixed term contracts for a period greater than 2 years, with the inability to extend more than once and the requirement to provide all employees engaged in such or intending to with a ‘Fixed Term Contract Information Sheet’.

Bargaining Agreements

As of the 7th of December 2022, changes have been made to how bargaining agreements can be initiated, with employees now able to initiate by writing their employer via a bargaining representative. Additionally, the commissioner has the authority to make a ‘Bargaining Order’, even in instances where the employer has refused a request.

Expert Panel

On the 6th of March 2023, two expert panels will be introduced that focus upon maintaining and reviewing pay equity and the Care and Community Sector.

Abolition of the ABCC and ROC

Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) will be abolished as of the 6th of February 2023. The National Construction Industry Forum will be established and operational from the 1st of July 2023.

The Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) will be abolished as of the 6th of June 2023, with all previous responsibilities falling on the FWC.

Other changes: Better Off Overall Tests, Bargaining Dispute process, Industrial Action, and Bargaining Streams.

If you have any concerns or would like to receive more information on the mentioned changes, do not hesitate in contacting Assurance HR Management on 1800 577 515 and one of our specialists will assist you in understanding the ongoing and upcoming legislative modifications that may affect your business.

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