Introduction:

Australia’s employment landscape is undergoing significant changes in 2024, driven by amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)(FWA). The key amendments from which these changes stem are the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023 and the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023. Due to the scale of these changes, it is important the employers are well-informed in advance so that they can make the appropriate preparations. To this end, the major changes that you should be aware of will be summarised below.

 

Key Changes:

From 15 December 2023:

  1. Redundancy Pay for Insolvent Employers
    1. Amendments to s 121 of the FWA mean that employers who transition from non-small business status to small business status due to insolvency may still be obligated to pay their employees redundancy pay.
  2. Enhanced Workplace Delegates’ Rights
    1. Delegates representing employee organisations will gain expanded rights and protections in relation to making representations for industrial interests, having access to workplaces, and being able to make communications.
  3. Discrimination Protections for Domestic Violence Victims
    1. Employees experiencing family and domestic violence will be granted new protections. Employers will be unable to take adverse action against employees who invoke this protected attribute.
  4. Compulsory Conciliation Conferences for Protected Action Ballots
    1. The use of protected action ballots will require attendance at a compulsory conciliation conference in the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
  5. Union Officials and Health and Safety Representatives
    1. There will no longer be a requirement that union officials entering a site to assist health and safety representatives must hold an entry permit.
  6. Migrant Workers’ Rights Regulation:
    1. Migrant workers will enjoy the same workplace rights and entitlements, regardless of their migration status. Most importantly, this mean that breaches of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) will not impact the employment status of a migrant.

From 30 December 2023:

  1. Ongoing Salary Deductions Authorisation
    1. Employees can authorise their employer to ongoing, variable salary deductions with the written approval of the employee. The authorisation will remain valid despite variations in the deduction value and can be retracted by the employee in writing.
  2. Long Service Leave for Casual Employees in Black Coal Mining
    1. Casual employees in the black coal mining industry now have access to long service leave entitlements.

From 1 April 2024:

  1. Changes to Workplace Gender Equality Reporting
    1. Workplaces will have mandatory sexual harassment reporting obligations and be required to provide employee information when sexual harassment allegations are made.
    2. Employers with 500+ employees will need to implement policies for achieving gender equality in their workplaces.

From 1 July 2024:

  1. FWC gains power to vary modern awards for workplace delegates’ rights.
    1. Industrial instruments such as workplace determinations and enterprise agreements will have to include provisions covering workplace delegates’ rights.
  2. National Criminalisation of Industrial Manslaughter
    1. With the introduction of legislation in NSW, industrial manslaughter will be criminalised across mainland Australia, along with severe penalties associated.
    2. This new legislation comes alongside the announcement that the previously dismantled NSW Industrial Court will be re-established to adjudicate over WHS prosecutions, instead of the Supreme Court, the District Court, and the Industrial Relations Commission.
  3. Superannuation Increase
    1. The superannuation rate will increase from the current 11% to 11.5%.

From 1 November 2024:

  1. FWC gains power to make orders for same job, same pay for labour hire workers.
    1. Provisions designed to punish those who try avoiding these orders will be implemented.
    2. Any disputes regarding these orders will be referrable to the FWC.

 

Conclusion:

Considering these amendments, Morgan + English encourages you to seek our assistance for a comprehensive review of your business’s employment policies and procedures. Our team is well-equipped to guide you through the intricacies of these changes, ensuring that your business remains compliant and well-prepared for the challenges of the evolving employment landscape in 2024. If you would like to take advantage of our services, please do not hesitate to contact Daniel Morgan (daniel@morganenglish.com.au) and the Workplace team today!

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