Employment Law and Workplace Safety
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it will be fighting tooth and nail in 2017 – demanding higher penalties, confronting the market leaders and defending small businesses against unfair standard form contracts. Investigations are underway and the ACCC will be taking enforcement action this year against numerous companies for unfair terms in business-to-business standard form contracts.
On 1 March 2017, the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 (‘Bill’) had its first reading in Parliament. The Bill proposes to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (‘Act’) in an attempt to tackle the issue of employee underpayment in large franchise systems, brought into the spotlight through the media’s 2015 investigation into 7-Eleven.
For administrative convenience and to streamline payroll function, employers will often pay employees an all-inclusive salary or wage rate to compensate for all entitlements payable under a Modern Award. If this intention is not meticulously described in an employment contract, employers remain exposed to claims for unpaid award entitlements, despite these above-award payments.
Throughout 2015 and 2016, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (‘FBFWC’) has taken submissions, and heard evidence, over a total of 39 hearing days, regarding the variation of weekend and public holiday penalty rates, for six modern awards, in the hospitality and retail sectors.
Today, the FBFWC decided to vary Sunday, Public Holiday, and Late Night penalty rates in some of these awards.