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Proposed Changes to Australia's IR Laws...

The new Government have not wasted any time in commencing their IR reform agenda with the introduction to Parliament of proposed legislation of 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave.

If passed, the law will become part of the NES and commence from February next year.

The leave will apply to all employees, including casual employees.

Other reform items include:

• Changing the definition of a ‘casual employee’ with an emphasis on hours worked and not what the terms and conditions of the employment contract state, therefore making a clearer path to permanency.

Same job same pay which has the capacity not only to apply to labour hire but also to businesses that engage contractors to work alongside their employees.

• Limiting roll over employment contracts and legislating criminal offences for wage theft (underpayments) by employers.

Gender pay equity giving the FWC powers to increase wages in low paid predominantly female workforces. Interestingly, secrecy clauses in contracts about salary and conditions are to be abolished, with the aim of increasing transparency.

• Enterprise agreement changes to protect workers and give the FWC additional dispute settlement powers. The coming jobs summit will delve closer on this issue.

The proposed change to the casual definition should be of concern to those employers who currently engage casuals.

The previous government legislated that amongst other things, an employee is to be considered a ‘casual employee’ if the employment contract stated so, irrespective of the pattern of hours worked.

The new Government want to reverse the current laws and place the emphasis on the pattern and hours worked by employees, rather than what the terms and conditions of the contract state and hence make it easier for casuals to become permanent employees.

It would be prudent for employers who employ casuals to ensure that their existing casual contracts of employment comply with the current law, so as to circumvent any changes that may apply retrospectively under the newly proposed laws.

Contact Lou McPherson if you have any questions whatsoever.

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