As this unique and challenging year draws to a close, we summarise the changes to HR and Safety in 2020.

This year the Fair Work Commission conducted its four-yearly review of modern awards. Changes were made to annualised salaries in several awards. Stricter requirements were imposed to track hours worked by employees on annualised salaries, ensuring they were paid correctly.

The Cadbury Case ruling in 2019, amended the way personal and carers leave was calculated. This change was later reversed in August by the High Court, clarifying personal/carers leave is calculated in hours worked not days.

March and April saw the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and subsequently changes to accommodate employers and keep people in jobs. The Fair Work Commission amended 99 modern awards to include provisions for unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay. Changes to the Fair Work Act and the WA Industrial Relations Act allowed employers to reduce working days, undertake alternative duties or at alternative locations. The JobKeeper program was also rolled out. Unions lobbied for paid pandemic leave for health workers, and this was added to three awards for the ‘second wave’ in Victoria.

Working from home was another big change in 2020, flexibility to the spread of working hours, reduction in ordinary hours, and taking of annual leave was added to the Clerks Award.

An increase to National and State minimum wage was announced in June, with wages increasing by 1.75%. June also saw the first company to be charged with Industrial Manslaughter under new health and safety laws in Queensland.

Managing mental health in the workplace became increasingly important in 2020, with the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were several changes to penalty rates this year. Penalty rates increased for retail workers after 6 pm, and weekend/public holiday penalty rates were adjusted for permanent and casual employees under various awards.

Changes were also made to Parental Leave Pay, from July employees can now split their pay over two periods within 2-years, rather than only having one continuous 18 month period.

This year the WA parliament passed the Work Health and Safety Act 2019. The new Act includes significant changes and introduces Industrial Manslaughter as a criminal offence. This allows businesses and individual owners or managers to be held responsible and be criminally prosecuted if an employee dies or is seriously injured in the workplace.  The responsibility of WHS service providers has also increased, to ensure advice provided does not put the health and safety of others at risk. WHS service providers can now be held criminally liable if they breach their duty.

In October, the Fair Work Commission published changes to the calculation of casual employees’ overtime in modern awards. This clarified how overtime for casuals is calculated in awards, either compounding, cumulative or substitution.

In a year like no other, there have been many changes to the HR, Industrial Relations, and workplace safety regulations. ProcessWorx strives to keep our clients up to date with the latest HR and Safety changes to ensure your business remains compliant.

If you need assistance with any of these recent changes don’t hesitate to contact us on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au

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Written by Danielle McNamee

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