Increase to the Minimum Wage
On 1 June 2018, the Fair Work Commission increased the minimum wage by 3.5 percent (or $24.30 per week). The new weekly minimum wage will be $719.20 per week or $18.93 per hour. The changes will come into effect on 1 July 2018.
Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty
On 24 May 2018, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Superannuation Measures No. 1) Bill 2018. If enacted, the Bill will introduce a 12- month Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty. The Amnesty will give employers an opportunity to rectify unpaid Superannuation Guarantee ("SG") payments for any period from 1 July 1992 to 31 March 2018 without penalty.
Employers who voluntarily disclose shortfalls in superannuation payments will not be penalised or liable to an administration fee. The penalties to which employers would otherwise be exposed include penalties for not giving employees a choice of superfund and Director Penalty Notices for companies that fail to meet their SG obligations. Employers who fail to disclose unpaid superannuation may be liable to higher penalties once the Amnesty ends.
To avoid penalties or administration fees, employers must pay all that is owing to their employees and the high rate of nominal interest during the Amnesty.
Employers should also be aware that the minimum superannuation contribution cap will remain unchanged during 2018/19 at the rate of 9.5 percent.
Memorandum of Understanding Signed by Coles and the Transport Workers Union
On 23 May 2018, Coles and the TWU signed a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU"), which focused on the "on demand" workforce. The five principles that underpinned the MOU for on-demand workers were:
- such workers should not be prohibited from accessing the same rights as other workers. On demand workers "should not have artificial labels applied to them that would limit their access to appropriate payments, leave entitlements, superannuation, safe working conditions and representation";
- all parties involved in the provision of goods and services have a role in ensuring safe and fair outcomes for workers in the industry;
- transport-related work should provide the opportunity for sustainable patterns of engagement and advancement, to ensure transport remains a feasible career option;
- on-demand workers must have the opportunity to contribute to a collective voice; and
- appropriate resources should be allocated to ensure worker and industry standards are maintained.
Under s 550 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ("FW Act"), a person who is "involved in" a contravention of a civil penalty provision is taken to have also contravened that provision. This is known as "accessorial liability". The Fair Work Ombudsman ("FWO") is increasingly utilising the accessorial liability provisions in the FW Act to ensure that companies and individuals are held responsible for contraventions of that Act. It is possible that the MOU between Coles and the TWU was a response to the increasing focus of the FWO on such provisions.