24th February 2023

Fair Work Legislation Amendment

The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 marks the most significant reforms to the Fair Work Act in 13 years. Introduced to Parliament on 27 October 2022, the Bill has recently passed both houses of Parliament with the support of the Greens and Independent ACT Senator Pocock, after the Australian Labor Party (ALP) struck a deal to ensure its passage before Christmas. The Act received Royal Assent on 6 December 2022, meaning that the bill is now acting legislation.

The Bill is part of a comprehensive suite of reforms promised by the ALP in the lead-up to the May 2022 federal election. The ALP claims that the Act will enhance job security, reduce the gender pay gap, and stimulate wage growth.

Of particular interest are the following changes:

Flexible working arrangements - Employees will have greater capacity to request flexible working arrangements and apply to have the FWC arbitrate disputes.

Fixed-term contracts - Under the new regulations, fixed and maximum contracts will be banned for terms (including renewals) exceeding two years. The provisions will include anti-avoidance measures and exemptions for specific job roles, industries, and purposes.

Pay secrecy - Pay secrecy clauses will be prohibited and employees will be given the positive right to disclose (or not disclose), and to ask other employees about, remuneration and conditions.

Preventing sexual harassment - Introduction of a positive duty to prevent sexual harassment at work and creating a new dispute resolution function for the FWC.

Multiple-employer agreements - Employers with 20 or more employees may have to negotiate agreements covering multiple employers, as the Fair Work Commission can authorize "supported bargaining" and "single interest employer" agreements. These employers may be included in an existing single interest agreement if specific conditions are met. Employees can take protected industrial action or seek bargaining orders to support these agreements, and there are limitations on employers' ability to withdraw from single interest employer or multi-enterprise agreements.

Termination of agreements - The ability to terminate enterprise agreements, especially during bargaining, will be limited, and "zombie" agreements will expire within 12 months of their start date without the possibility of an extension.

Discrimination - The upcoming changes to the FW Act will align the anti-discrimination provisions with other Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws. This will include the addition of protected attributes such as breastfeeding, gender identity and intersex status.

Abolishing the ABCC and ROC Abolishing - The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and transferring powers to the Fair Work Ombudsman; and the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) and transferring its functions to the General Manager of the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

Follow this link to view the Timeline showing key start dates for changes under the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022.

What's to come?

The Australian Government is planning to implement extensive reforms to the workplace relations system, which it claims will raise wages and increase flexibility. It is unclear how the Bill will impact the workplace, but the Albanese Government has agreed to review the Bill two years after its introduction, which may address many of these concerns.

In addition, the ALP has hinted at further changes to workplace relations in 2023. There are plans to regulate the gig economy and establish "same pay" regulations for labour hire workers. Therefore, 2023 is expected to be another significant year for the Government's industrial relations agenda.


Feeling Overwhelmed or Not Sure Where to Start?

Standard Candle HR can help you to remain compliant with Australian Industrial Relation and Employment Laws. We can assist you by redrafting your employment contracts and company policies to reflect the legislation changes and ensure you remain complaint with employment laws. Click here to visit our website to explore more ways that we can help.

Fair Work Legislation Amendment

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