The ALP’s success at the recent Federal Election is likely to lead to significant employment and industrial relations regulation changes. We pride ourselves on being across all of the latest HR and IR news and changes, so we can update business owners to be ahead of the curve. The more you know ahead of time the better prepared you can be when these changes come into law.
Proposed policy changes by the ALP we recommend businesses consider include:
Portable Leave Schemes in Insecure Industries
The ALP plans to develop portable leave schemes for annual, sick and long service leave for insecure industries. The inability of employees to accumulate the relevant service for leave entitlements is often not a matter of their engagement but the nature of the projects in certain industries. This scheme will allow workers to move leave entitlements from one job to another. At this time the ALP has not finalised what industries will be eligible, the scheme is intended to help Australians in insecure work accumulate leave where they previously were not able to do so.
Workers who are expected to benefit are casual employees, contractors, gig-economy workers, fixed-term basis and labour-hire workers. ALP has referenced the pandemic, rising job insecurity, casualisation of the workforce and growth of the gig economy as reasons to implement these industrial relations changes. Industries that are expected to see this change first include, accommodation and food services, retail trade, arts and recreation, healthcare and social assistance. These portable leave schemes are expected to operate similarly to those currently in the construction and mining industry.
Same Job, Same Pay Initiative
The proposed policy is aimed at ensuring workers employed through labour-hire businesses receive no less favourable pay and conditions than employees of the host performing the same role. This is to ensure that workers performing the same duties and working the same hours are paid and treated fairly. Businesses should consider if they could be covered by this legislation, what processes need to be established to comply with the legislation and if the introduction of these laws will impact the feasibility of engaging or providing labour hire?
Terminating Pre-Fair Work Act Agreements
The ALP has proposed to terminate all WorkChoices agreements negotiated prior to the Fair Work Act (2009), to bring businesses up to speed on the industrial relations instruments. Businesses should consider if they still have pre-Fair Work Act collective agreements and what modern Award/s may apply instead.
Minimum Wage Increase
ALP has been vocal in support of raising minimum wages to be in line with inflation. They have also proposed higher penalties including criminal liability for wage theft as well as strengthening sham contracting laws. Businesses paying employees on the national minimum wage or minimum award rates should consider how wage increases will affect their business model. Reviewing the contractors in your business is always encouraged to prevent sham contracting. This can include updating any independent contractor agreements and ensuring the day to day operations of the contractors are consistent with the contractual terms.
Being aware of potential industrial relations changes is the first step to ensuring compliance and protecting your business. If you need assistance understanding or reviewing your industrial relations requirements or have other HR issues please contact the ProcessWorx HR consultants on (08) 9316 9896. Our friendly expert team will be happy to help you develop your business in this area.