A lot is happening to change workplace relations through developments in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and through the newly elected Federal Government’s legislative program. Here are some of the changes.
New harassment legislation
The Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 is currently being considered by a Senate Committee. It implements another seven of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ recommendations from the Respect@Work report. The Bill includes a positive duty for employers to prevent workplace sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
Toll application to clarify shift penalties
NatRoad initially appeared in and is now monitoring a Toll Transport application to amend the Road Transport and Distribution Award to clarify afternoon and night shift penalty provisions. NatRoad supports the move to ensure penalty rates for non-continuous afternoon or night shifts do not catch employers who, for example, offer a four-day-a-week shift arrangement as part of a consistent pattern. The application seeks that the change be backdated to January 2010.
Award superannuation clauses
The FWC is reviewing superannuation clauses in more than 100 awards, including the two main transport awards. The FWC will investigate any conflict with the prior government’s legislative changes to “stapled” funds and superannuation underperforming products.
The FWC says that the new laws could “override” award clauses requiring employers to make contributions to a particular superannuation fund if the award provisions are inconsistent with current superannuation requirements. NatRoad is monitoring these proceedings.
Government White Paper and Legislative Changes
In late September, the Government released terms of reference for an Employment White Paper, to be developed by Treasury’s Employment Taskforce and labelled as a roadmap for Australia to build a larger, better trained and more productive workforce. It is expected to be finalized by late 2023.
Before then, the Government plans to change the Fair Work Act to permit multi-employer work agreements, and to simplify the Better Off Overall Test that governs whether an enterprise agreement or individual flexibility agreement is able to be made.