Home > News > Update on Changes to the Fair Work Act and Workplace Laws

Update on Changes to the Fair Work Act and Workplace Laws

Spread the love

The Australian Government has announced significant updates to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) and workplace laws.

Changes have been introduced through the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023 which was passed in Parliament and received the Royal Assent on 30 June 2023. These changes are further to those introduced in the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 which was passed in December 2022.

These updates aim to bolster worker entitlements and provide further clarity on worker’s rights and regulations. Here is a breakdown of the key updates and its implications.

Key Amendments to the FW Act

Right to Superannuation in the National Employment Standards

From 1 January 2024, the National Employment Standards (NES) will include a right to superannuation contributions. This means underpaid or unpaid superannuation can be enforced under the FW Act through an FWO complaint or in Court.

Employers will continue to have obligations under the superannuation guarantee laws under which compliance is overseen by the Australian Taxation Office.

Greater Flexibility in Unpaid Parental Leave

From 1 July 2023, there will be greater flexibility for employees taking unpaid parental leave.

Key amendments include:

  • The ability for employees to take up to 100 days of their 12-month leave entitlement flexibly during the 24-month period following their child’s birth or placement. This is a significant increase from the previous 30-day entitlement.
  • Pregnant employees can access their flexible unpaid parental leave up to six weeks before the expected date of their child’s birth.
  • Employees are no longer restricted from taking more than eight weeks of unpaid parental leave concurrently with their spouse or de facto partner.

The above amendments align with updates made to the Paid Parental Leave scheme effective 1 July 2023, including providing a single 20-week scheme to be shared between parents.

Interaction between Enterprise Agreements and Workplace Determinations

From 1 July 2023, when a workplace determination is made, the previous enterprise agreement will no longer apply to an employee.

Authorised Employee Deductions

From 30 December 2023, employees will be able to authorise salary deductions that are recurring or vary from time to time. This change simplifies the deduction authorisation process, allowing an employee to make a single written authorisation, even if the deduction amount changes. It provides employees with greater control as they can withdraw the authorisation in writing at any time. Employees can still continue to authorise specific deductions that are principally for their benefit in accordance with the FW Act.

Protections for Migrant Workers

From 1 July 2023, the rights of migrant workers are further clarified. The legislation underlines that their workplace rights remain unaffected, irrespective of their status under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). This holds true even in situations where a migrant worker:

  • Has breached visa conditions; or
  • Does not have working rights in Australia.

Casual Employees in the Black Coal Mining Industry

Starting no later than 1 January 2024, casual coal mining employees will see changes including casual loading in long service leave payouts and an updated leave accrual method.

Reminder of Other Amendments from the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act and other Legislation

Changes under the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act

From 6 June 2023, under the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act, changes in relation to requests for flexible work arrangements, unpaid parental leave and enterprise agreement bargaining came into effect. Further amendments, such as limits to fixed-term contracts, will be implemented by December 2023.

For a more comprehensive understanding of these changes, refer to our previous article: “Secure Jobs Act receives Royal Assent” dated 9 December 2022.

Upcoming Change in August 2023

From 1 August 2023, employees of small business employers can access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12-month period.

This entitlement was earlier introduced for employees of non-small business employers from 1 February 2023.

Preparing for the Changes

Employers must ensure its ongoing compliance with workplace laws. MST recommends reviewing any workplace policies and agreements to ensure alignment with the new amendments to the FW Act.

Contact MST LawyersEmployment Law team on 03 8540 0200 or workplace@mst.com.au to discuss how the changes may impact your business.