Compiled by Tania Harris
- A Reference Point to learn changes in Australian Employment Law
- Issues Affecting Your Business
- Guiding Employers towards Compliance
- Providing Best Practice Solutions for Business
FAIR WORK OMBUDSMAN (FWO) STRATEGIC PRIORITIES 2020-21
In a COVID-19 driven strategy shift, the FWO will temporarily consider the ‘impact on viability’ when deciding whether to prosecute Employers. The FWO has stressed it will still require underpayments to be made good and that it will still enforce the law during the Pandemic.
The Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, has recently released the FWO’s strategic priorities for 2020-21, which includes ‘supporting all workplaces’ through the Pandemic.
The FWO’s strategy, lists large corporate underpayments as a focus, along with fast food, restaurants and cafés, horticulture, franchising arrangements and sham contracting.
PENALTY RATE CHANGES FOR RETAIL AND PHARMACY INDUSTRY AWARDS
Employers within the Retail and Pharmacy industries should be aware that there are penalty rate changes that came into effect from 1 July 2020.
The changes to the General Retail Industry Award and the Pharmacy Industry Award are the 4th round of penalty rate reductions that have been phased in as part of the Modern Award review process.
CHANGES TO MODERN AWARDS
As part of the Modern Award Review, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has made some changes to the following Awards, effective from 1 July 2020.
– Social and Community Services Award
– Aged Care Award
– Building and Construction Award
– Joinery Award
– Mobile Crane Award
– Miscellaneous Award
Please note that the Miscellaneous Award has been varied to clarify who it covers. This means that Employees who were previously Award-Free may now be covered by this Award.
If you employ Award-Free Employees, we recommend you contact us to discuss appropriate coverage.
COVID-19 VARIATIONS – MODERN AWARDS
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has extended COVID-19 variations in some Modern Awards as well as adding new safeguards to extended flexibility measures.
UPDATES TO THE PARENTAL LEAVE PAY SCHEME
From 1 July 2020, eligible Employees can split their Parental Leave Pay (PLP) so they take it over 2 periods within 2 years. Employees can claim PLP for 1 set period and 1 flexible period. Previously, Employees could only use PLP as one continuous 18 week period.
Services Australia manage the PLP payment system – https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/parental-leave-pay
JOBKEEPER ENABLING STAND DOWN DIRECTIONS
Employees subject to a JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Direction, still accrue their usual Leave Entitlements for the period the direction applies (as if the direction had not been given to them). Service is counted for all purposes, including when the direction reduced an Employee’s hours to zero. Redundancy pay and payment in lieu of notice of Termination are also calculated as if the direction had not been given.
Extension of the JobKeeper Scheme
On 21 July 2020, the Australian Government announced their intention to extend the JobKeeper Scheme until 28 March 2021, with some changes from September to the eligibility criteria and payment amounts. The current scheme will remain in place until 28 September 2020.
FYI – the JobKeeper provisions enable qualifying Employers to give eligible Employees a direction to reduce their hours or days of work in certain circumstances. These directions are referred to as a JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Direction. This scheme will remain in place until 28 September 2020.
We will keep you informed of any changes.
Aged Care Workers Granted Paid Pandemic Leave
A Fair Work Commission Full Bench decided to grant 2 weeks paid Pandemic Leave for Aged Care workers covered by the Aged, Nurses and Health Professionals Award for a 3 month period from 29 July 2020.
Employees will be able to access the paid leave if they need to self-isolate because they have Coronavirus symptoms or have been in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of the virus.
Caution regarding Changing Employment Conditions
The Federal Court recently confirmed that a reduction in an Employee’s Terms and Conditions of Employment without consent, can give rise to a Redundancy Entitlement, even when the Employee continues working for the Employer.
Contracted Drivers are Employees
In a recent ruling on the standing of Independent Contractors, a full Federal Court has upheld an appeal by 2 truck drivers pursuing Unpaid Leave and Superannuation Entitlements.
After considering the evidence the Commissioner concluded that the Drivers were Employees of the business.
Independent Contractors have different obligations and rights to Employees because they are running their own business. This means it is important to understand the difference between the two.
– The All Groups CPI for the year ending 30 June 2020 was -0.3%
– The Hobart CPI for the year ending 30 June was 1.3%
The ABS says it is the biggest quarterly fall in the measure’s 72-year history.
If you need any Advice on the above mentioned, or any other Employment related matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us.