The Federal Government’s Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 passed parliament on 2 December 2022, after negotiations in the Senate. The new laws represent the most significant changes to Australia’s industrial relations system since the commencement of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). While some employers will be affected more than others, the changes will have an impact across Australian workplaces. Royal Assent was received on 6 December 2022.
The amendments will come into effect in several stages, with some elements having already taken effect on 7 December 2022.
The following are some critical messages for employers:
- If your template employment agreements contain provisions restraining employees from discussing their pay, you must remove those provisions from the templates immediately.
- If you are about to issue a contract with a pay secrecy clause, delete that clause before issuing.
- If your business uses fixed-term or maximum-term contracts, you should consider whether those contracts are necessary. If so, seek advice on whether long-term or back-to-back arrangements will be lawful once the changes take effect.
- If your business relies on an out-of-date enterprise agreement, particularly if the agreement disadvantages employees, you will need to start considering alternative options.
- If your business’s enterprise agreement has passed or is about to pass its nominal expiry date, you should get on the front foot and consider renegotiation options.
- All employers need to be more proactive in preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
Among other areas, the new law will have impacts in the following areas:
- Removing secrecy over pay
- Limiting the use of fixed-term contracts
- Flexible working arrangements
- Multi-enterprise bargaining
- Changes to enterprise bargaining
- Termination of enterprise agreements
- Substantive equality
- Discrimination and sexual harassment
- Small claims
- Job advertisements.
To learn more about the changes to the Fair Work Act, click here to read the complete, original alert published by the Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety team of Ally Law member firm Russell Kennedy.