A new Federal Bill, the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2015, is proposed to amend the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) to increase the value of a penalty unit for Commonwealth criminal offences, and will impact upon penalties which can be ordered by a Court under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FW Act) for breaches of workplace laws.

A “penalty unit” under the FW Act has the meaning given by section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914. The Bill proposes to amend section 4AA of the Crimes Act to increase the current penalty unit from $170 to $180, and also to provide for the penalty unit amount to be automatically adjusted every three years in line with inflation.

The Bill, if passed, will come into effect in late July 2015 and will result in an increase to the maximum penalties that can be imposed under the FW Act. This will mean that a contravention of the National Employment Standards, a modern award or an enterprise agreement will increase as follows:

  1. For an individual: from $10,200 to $10,800; and
  2. For a corporation: from $51,000 to $54,000.