Rocio Paradela, Graduate Associate
With the start of the new year upon us and everyone slowly getting back to work, it’s time to reflect on what changes organisations need to keep in mind in 2019.
Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018
The new Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018 (Cth)1 came into force on 18 December 2018. These amendments are the direct result of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia decision in Workpac Pty Ltd v Skene2 (discussed in our previous blog) and seeks to address employers’ concerns that wrongly classified employees may be able to “double dip”.
Under the amendments, employers who have wrongly classified an employee as casual, may be able to offset the amount already paid as a casual loading to satisfy entitlements found to be owing to the employee under the National Employment Standard (“NES”).
The Regulation will only apply if all of the following conditions are met:
- a person is employed on the basis that they are a casual employee;
- the employer pays the employee an amount (the casual loading) that is clearly identifiable as an amount paid to compensate the employee for not having one or more relevant NES entitlements;
- during all or some of the employment period, the person was in fact an employee other than a casual employee; and
- the person makes a claim to be paid an amount in lieu of one or more of the relevant NES entitlements.
The new regulation applies to time worked both before and after 18 December 2018.
Modern Slavery Act
Following our blog on 15 October 2018, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament and commenced on 1 January 2019, imposing new reporting requirements on employers.
Changes in Modern Awards
As part of the Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) four yearly review of modern awards, there have been several changes to some modern awards.
A new termination payment clause has been included in some modern awards. This clause imposes a requirement that on termination an employer must pay an employee’s outstanding wages and other entitlements no later than seven days after the day the employment was terminated. Common modern awards that now have this clause include:
- Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010;
- General Retail Industry Award 2010; and
- Banking, Finance and Insurance Award 2010.
On 1 October 2018, a model casual conversion clause was inserted in 84 modern awards (with others containing a modified clause or already having such a clause). This clause allows certain casual employees to request their employment be converted to permanent, provided they satisfy certain conditions. The employer can refuse to convert a casual employee to permanent status where the employer has consulted with the employee first, there are reasonable grounds to do so, and the refusal is put in writing within 21 days of the request being made.
A new clause that supplements the flexible working arrangement provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the “FW Act“) has also been introduced into modern awards. In our blog of 2 October 2018 we explain the implications of this new clause.
It is worth noting that the FWC will no longer be required to conduct four-yearly reviews of modern awards as the Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Act 20185 passed both houses of Parliament on 5 December 2018 and received Royal Assent on 11 December 2018.
Family and Domestic Violence Leave into NES
The Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 20186 took effect on 12 December 2018. The FW Act now includes the right for workers to take up to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year as part of the NES. This extends the right to all workers, beyond the coverage of the award system.
If you require any advice as to how these legislative changes may affect you or your organisation, please feel free contact People + Culture Strategies on (02) 8094 3100.
1 Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018 (Cth)
3 4 yearly review of Modern Awards
4 Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Bill 2017
5 Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2018