In one of the biggest shake-ups in the industrial relations sphere since the introduction of the Fair Work Act in 2009, the Federal Government has introduced to Parliament an omnibus Bill making wide-sweeping changes to a number of key areas of concern for both employers and employees.
The MTA have continued to closely monitor and inform members, as well have making submissions either directly, through our Federal Association MTAA, or in conjunction with other employer organisations, and we intend to make submissions to the Senate Committee on the draft Bill.
The proposed changes cover six key areas:
For the first time, a legislated definition of a casual employee will provided, which is based upon when the offer of employment is made and accepted, and there being no firm advance commitment to continuing and indefinite work according to an agreed pattern of work.
Tied to this definition is a legislated requirement for casual conversion, based on at least 12 months of casual employment, with at least the last 6 months being a regular pattern of hours on an ongoing basis.
In addition to the existing Fair Work Information Statement, there will now also be published a Casual Employment Information Statement, which must be provided to all casual employees.
For certain specified Modern Awards, including the Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award, it will now be possible to have a simplified agreement for additional agreed hours for part-time employees, which will be worked and paid at the ordinary hourly rate for those employees.
In addition, for these Modern Awards, some of the flexibilities introduced by the JobKeeper provisions will now be extended, relating to flexible work duties and flexible work location.
Substantial changes to the negotiation, application and approval process for Enterprise Agreements are proposed, together with changes to the existing Better Off Overall Test applicable to Enterprise Agreements.
Longer term Greenfields Agreements for Major Projects, as defined or prescribed, will be allowed under these amendments.
Compliance and Enforcement
In order to address public perception around ‘wage theft’ by employers, the legislation proposed substantial changes in this area. This includes the criminalisation of dishonest and systemic underpayment of wages, higher penalties for breaches that are serious and significant, but do not meet the level of the criminal provisions, and an easier and quicker process for recovery of underpayments by employees.
Fair Work Commission
Powers will be granted to the FWC to dismiss an application that is frivolous, vexatious, has no substance, has no reasonable prospects of success or is otherwise an abuse of process.
Members should recall that these changes are still before the Parliament, and may be subject to substantial change before being enacted into law.
If you have any questions or concerns, the Workplace Relations team is here to assist you in making sense of it all! Click here to contact the MTA's WR team.