IMPORTANT CHANGES TO THE FAIR WORK ACT 2009

It’s important to understand how changes to the Fair Work Act may affect your business and employees (Tom Wakefield)

It’s important to understand how changes to the Fair Work Act may affect your business and employees (Tom Wakefield)

Important changes to the Fair Work Act 2009

ALL changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 that were announced in 2013 have now come into effect.

As an employer, it’s important to understand how these changes may affect your business and employees.

Changes to the act include the new anti-bullying measures under which a worker who has been bullied at work can apply to the commission for an order to stop the bullying.

There are no time limits for making an anti-bullying application, but the worker must still be working at the business.

Workers that have been dismissed can’t apply for an order, however, they may still be able to pursue an unfair or unlawful termination claim.

Under the Fair Work Amendment Act bullying happens when an individual or group repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or group or when behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

Bullying doesn’t include one-off instances of insensitivity or rudeness, or reasonable management activities carried out in a reasonable manner.

Changes to right of entry, affecting the rights and powers of officials or organisations with entry permits, have also come into effect.

The changes to right of entry affect the rights and powers of officials of organisations who have entry permits to enter businesses.

The changes will mean that interviews and discussions with employees must be held in an area the business and permit holder agree to (lunch rooms can be used if no agreement can be reached).

It also means the commission will be able to deal with disputes about the frequency of visits and accommodation and transport arrangements and ensure appropriate conduct by permit holders, while they are receiving accommodation or being transported under the arrangements.

This also requires employers to check with employees before changing regular rosters and working hours.

Modern awards and enterprise agreements must have a term that requires employers to consult with employees about changes to their regular roster or ordinary hours of work.

This means when an employer wants t o change an employees regular roster they need to give information to the employee about the change, let the employee give their views about the change and consider the employees views on the impact of the change.

New timeframes for unlawful termination applications have also been introduced, meaning employees that aren’t in the national workplace relations system will have 21 days (from the date of dismissal) to lodge an unlawful termination application with the commission.

This means that all dismissal applications must be made within 21 days of the dismissal, including unfair dismissal, general protections and unlawful termination.

Updates to superannuation conditions in modern awards have also come into effect.

The changes include compulsory superannuation terms in modern awards and a review process for these terms.

Visit the Fair Work Commission website at http://www.fwc.gov.au for more information

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