The Federal government has passed amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act) which will come into effect on 1 January 2014. As an employer, it is important to know your rights and obligations in relation to these changes and to ensure your workplace policies reflect these amendments. It is also important that communications to employees in relation to these changes is adequate. Following is a brief summary of the changes taking effect as of 1 January 2014:
- New anti-bullying measures
The new provisions will allow ‘workers’ who reasonably believe that they are being bullied at work to apply to the Fair Work Commission (Commission) for an order to stop the bullying. The Fair Work Commission will have to start dealing with the matter within 14 days.
- Right of entry rules
These changes affect the rights and powers of officials of organisation who have entry permits to enter businesses.
- Genuine consultation on changes to roster and hours of work
Awards and agreements will need to include a term that requires employers to genuinely consult with their employees about changes to their regular roster and ordinary hours. Agreements will also require employers to consult with their employees in relation to any major change to a workplace that will have significant effect to employees.
- Protection of penalty rates
The ‘modern award objective’ in the Fair Work Act 2009 will be amended to protect penalty rates. The Fair Work Commission, when making or changing a modern award, will have to take into account the need to provide addition pay for employees working overtime; unsocial, irregular or unpredictable hours; on weekends or public holidays; and shifts.