New South Whales Legislation to Combat Modern Slavery
New Legislation Enacted
On June 21, 2018, the New South Wales Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act, requiring corporations to make efforts to eradicate modern forms of slavery in their supply chains. The Act applies to all organizations with employees in NSW and those with an annual turnover of $50 million that supply goods or services to customers in NSW. The Act also requires mandatory disclosures from applicable corporations and imposes as $1.1 million penalty for non-compliance.
Increase to Minimum Wage, Income Threshold for Unfair Dismissal Jurisdiction, and Filing Fees
New Regulation or Official Guidance
On July 1, 2018, Australia implemented a new national minimum wage rate, taking the required hourly rate of pay to $18.93 or $719.20 per week. As a result of the Fair Work Commission’s 3.5% increase, the high income threshold for unfair dismissal jurisdiction increased from$142,000 to $145,000 (excluding superannuation). Employees earning more than this may only file an unfair dismissal claim if their employment is covered by one of the 122 modern awards. Additionally, the filing fees for unfair and unlawful dismissal, general protections, and anti-bullying applications increased from $70.60 to $71.90 per application.
New Victorian Labour Hire Laws Introduced
Proposed Bill or Initiative
On June 19, 2018, the State of Victoria’s Legislative Council passed legislation to regulate labor hire, which Victorian Parliament is expected to pass. The law will require labor hire service providers to hold a license and host businesses to only licensed providers. Starting next year, providers will be required to pass "a fit and proper person test" and show compliance with workplace laws, labor hire laws, and minimum accommodation standards in order to obtain a license. Licensed providers will be listed on a public register and "rogue operators" will be liable for civil and criminal penalties.
Proposed Law Offers Superannuation Non-Compliant Employers a Limited One-Time Amnesty
Proposed Bill or Initiative
On May 24, 2018, the Australian federal government introduced legislation granting employers a one-time amnesty for underpayment of their superannuation guarantee (SG) obligations to employees and individual contractor workers. To access the amnesty, employers must pay all superannuation owed to their employees, including interest, before the offer expires on May 23, 2019. Employers that do not utilize the amnesty will face higher penalties if they are caught which, generally amounts to a minimum of 50% on top of the required contributions. It is estimated that in 2014-15, about $2.85 billion in SG payments went unpaid and this legislation aims to address that issue.