The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023

The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023

The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023 (“Amendment Bill”) was passed on 22 June 2023.  The Amendment Bill introduces several changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Some of the key changes include:

Right to superannuation in the National Employment Standards

  • Effective from 1 January 2024.
  • The National Employment Standards (NES) will include a provision for superannuation contributions, allowing employees to enforce underpaid superannuation.
  • Note, however, employers are already obligated to pay superannuation contributions for eligible employees under the existing Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (Cth).

Changes to unpaid parental leave

  • Effective from 1 July 2023.
  • Employees taking unpaid parental leave will have increased flexibility in utilising their leave entitlements.
  • Employee can take up to 100 days of their 12-month leave period flexibly within 24 months after the birth or placement of their child. This is an increase from the previous 30-day entitlement.
  • Pregnant employees can access flexible unpaid parental leave up to six weeks before the expected date of birth.
  • Both parents can take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave within 24 months of their child’s birth or placement, with the option to apply for an extension of up to a further 12 months.

Interaction between enterprise agreements and workplace determinations

  • Effective from 1 July 2023.
  • The Fair Work Commission can make a workplace determination that replaces an enterprise agreement in certain circumstances, thereby setting new terms and conditions of employment for affected employees.

Authorised employee deductions:

  • Effective from 30 December 2023.
  • Employees can authorise recurring salary deductions for varying amounts through a single written authorisation. The employee can withdraw this authorisation in writing at any time.
  • Previously, a new written authorisation was required for any changes in deduction amounts.
  • Employees can also continue to allow deductions for specific amounts, provided they are primarily for the employee’s benefit and made in writing.

Protections for migrant workers:

  • Effective from 1 July 2023.
  • Migrant workers in Australia are granted the same workplace rights and entitlements as other employees, regardless of their migration status under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) (“Migration Act”).
  • Breaches of the Migration Act (for example, where an employee breaches their visa) do not affect the validity of employment contracts or contracts for services.

Casual employees in the Black Coal Mining Industry:

  • Changes effective either on a day fixed by Proclamation or 1 January 2024 (whichever comes first).
  • The changes are aimed to ensure that casual employees are treated no less favourably than permanent employees for portable long service leave entitlements managed by the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation.
  • The changes include clarification that long service leave payouts for casual employees must include any applicable casual loading and the implementation of a new method for accruing long service leave for casual employees.

To access the Amendment Bill, click here.

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