07/01/14

Big changes are now in force on the way you employ staff, with all changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 announced in 2013 in effect since the start of this year.
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As an employer, it’s important to understand how these changes may affect your business and employees.

Here’s what you need to know about changes to the Fair Work Act that started on January 1, 2014.

Family friendly measures

You may now be responsible for providing unpaid parental leave for up to eight weeks, flexible work arrangements, a safe job for pregnant employees, and special maternity leave before an employee gives birth.

Anti-bullying measures

An employee who is bullied at work can now apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying. If an anti-bullying order is breached, your company may face a penalty up to $51,000.

Right of entry measures

The way you work with union officials has changed, including where union interviews and discussions can be held at work, and helping with their accommodation and transport if your site is in a remote area.

Penalty rates

The Fair Work Commission will now consider providing extra wages for those working overtime, unsocial, irregular or unpredictable hours, weekends or public holidays, and shifts.

Award flexibility

All modern awards have been amended, including agreements under award flexibility, to ensure employees are better off. There are also changes to notice times.

Consultation about changes to rosters or working hours

You must now consult with your employees about changes to their regular roster or ordinary hours, inviting their feedback and considering their views. New enterprise agreements must also include a consultation clause to the same effect.

Superannuation provisions in enterprise agreements

Your enterprise agreement could be considered unlawful if it has the effect of requiring or permitting contributions to a superannuation fund or scheme that does not offer a MySuper product, defines the employee and other relevant employees as benefit members, or is an exempt public sector superannuation scheme.

Apprentice trainees and junior wage rates

Changes in apprenticeships mean variations in modern awards. These include an increase in the minimum award pay for first and second year apprentices, more awards to include adult apprentice rates and the model school-based schedule, and provisions for competency and conditions of employment.

Other changes

Other changes include the Fair Work Commission having power to arbitrate unlawful termination and general protection disputes involving a dismissal, and the power to order reinstatement, compensation, or payment in those cases.

For more information on the changes, visit the Fair Work Commission website.

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