27 April 2023
In the next phase of the Federal Government’s reform to workplace and industrial relations legislation, consultation papers addressing the following issues have been released:
The consultation papers were released on Thursday, 13 April 2023, and submissions close on Friday, 12 May 2023 at 11 pm.
This article sets out the key changes proposed in the consultation papers.
Anti-discrimination laws are dealt with across the Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions, including the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). The frameworks across the jurisdictions are not entirely consistent and are difficult for employers and employees to navigate.
The consultation paper proposes various amendments to the FW Act to address this issue, including:
The consultation paper also seeks views on whether improvements can be made to the general protections provisions to “clarify protections for a person engaging, or not engaging, in industrial action”.
Despite the current compliance and enforcement framework and measures taken by the Fair Work Ombudsman, underpayment and non-payment of wages is stated to be a widespread and significant issue across Australian businesses of all sizes.
The consultation paper proposes:
The Federal Government seeks to legislate the same pay for those performing the same job. The purpose of this reform is to prevent host employers from using labour hire to undercut wages and conditions set out in their enterprise agreements.
The consultation paper considers:
The consultation paper also proposes for the Fair Work Commission’s powers to extend to resolving disputes about the ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ scheme and if the ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ provisions should be characterised as civil remedy provisions for the purposes of enforcement.
The characterisation of a person as an employee or independent contractor is a topical debate which the High Court has recently addressed. The rapid expansion of the gig economy is increasing the number of individuals being characterised as independent contractors, despite them performing ‘employee-like’ forms of work.
The distinction is significant as independent contractors are generally not entitled to the safety net of minimum conditions that apply to employees, including annual leave, sick leave, minimum rates of pay and superannuation.
The consultation paper seeks to address this issue by proposing to expand the capacity of the Fair Work Commission to:
Submissions in response to any of the four consultation papers close on Friday, 12 May 2023 at 11 pm. We will update you on what some of the response submissions say and what will happen next.
If you have any questions about these consultation papers, please get in touch with a member of our team below.
The information in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.