Recently, Fair Work legislation has been amended in a number of areas and if you’re a business owner with employees, you should be across these.
We have summarised these updates below, however if you need to address any of these areas, please take the time to discuss with your HR team or advisors and ensure you understand the steps required before implementing any changes.
small claims cap has increased from $20,000 to $100,000 for claims of underpayment of wages
This will take effect from 1 July 2023 and could open a Pandora’s box of claims by employees.
There are a number of modern awards that are complicated and it does take time to understand the nuances. As a business owner, do not assume your payroll/bookkeeper are fully across this. Make sure you take the time to understand the awards that affect your business. Talk with your payroll and HR team about undertaking a review on wages and entitlements to make sure you are paying people correctly.
If you get a query from an employee, take it seriously. Employees are encouraged to understand their entitlements and the money owed to them – and sometimes they understand better then small business owners.
if you have people on fixed-term contracts exceeding two years, new rules come into effect December 2023
These changes protect the contracted employee and it won’t be as easy to just ‘finish someone up’ once the rules come into place. From December they’ll be entitled to similar processes around termination as their colleagues who are permanent employees.
If you have fixed-term contractors, take the time to review and assess if these contracts will remain in place in the future. Consider why you have fixed contracts in place and whether they are required in all circumstances.
from June 2023, the amendments to flexible working take place
Any employee that falls into one of the below categories will have more opportunities to contest employers’ refusal of their flexible work requests.
- Over 55
- Living with a disability
- Caring for infants or school-aged children
- Experiencing family and domestic violence
We have shared this information previously, however this is just a reminder that the amendments kick-in from June.
As an employer, you can still deny requests on reasonable business grounds, however, you must ensure you have a good process in place for requests and refusals.
This process should demonstrate that you have taken the time to assess the situation and if denied, you should be able to provide a reasonable explanation based on the business needs or requirements, that has led to the decision.
Flexibility around work is not going away so if you, as a business, are not open to this or you aren’t working towards creating ways to embrace some alternative arrangements, you may find it hard to attract and retain good people.
Here’s a simple tip to keep team members engaged and satisfied with the process – Rather than simply denying the request, work with the employee and the team to see what alternatives there are and you may be able to achieve a compromise where everyone wins. Remember, communication is key!
If you are still unfamiliar with your obligations surrounding around flexibility, you can review the information from Fair Work here.
[A quick reminder for those who have existing flexible work policies and processes in place – make sure you respond to any request for flexible working within 21 days and update your procedures to reflect this timeline]
have you reviewed your policies and training around sexual harassment and bullying recently?
Recent changes in legislation [Respect at Work Amendment Act] include new definitions, expanding the jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission, clarifying sexual harassment and dismissal.
Every employer should have zero tolerance to any acts of harassment and bullying and up-to-date policies. Regular training and stamping out any inappropriate behaviour is your responsibility. Take the time to review the changes made by fair work here.
If you are having issues with conduct and behaviour in your business, it may be time to do some group training, individual counselling and roll out your policies for employees to review then sign.
As a leader in your business, this is also a good time to self-reflect on your behaviour and ensure you’re demonstrating the right behaviour. Is it possible you need to check yourself? Are you ignoring conduct [even minor things] that team members or customers may observe as unacceptable, inappropriate or even a little ‘icky’?
It’s important you understand these updates and make the appropriate changes to your business if necessary. Remember to reach out to your HR team and/or advisors to ensure you are across them.
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