On 6 December 2022, the Federal Government passed the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 (Cth). This legislation aims to modernise workplace bargaining, address the gender pay gap and increase wages.
In this article, we explain some of the changes, how they impact business owners and employees and changes that employers need to action.
Pay Secrecy Clauses
Most employment contracts label salary as confidential information, which prohibits employees from disclosing it to other employees. Some employers even go so far as to prohibit employees from discussing their salary with anyone. These types of clauses have benefited employers, and reduced the risk that employees will rally together to demand better pay.
Employees will now have a new workplace right to decide whether they would like to disclose their renumeration, and any terms and conditions of their employment that may impact their remuneration. This includes any bonus structures, pay bands and KPIs.
Employees will also be allowed to disclose their remuneration to any other person, including the media or competitors.
The removal of pay secrecy has come about to assist with pay equality in the workplace, to prohibit discrimination and lead to more transparency.
Employers should review their employment contracts and remove or update any pay secrecy clauses.
Flexible Working Arrangements
The process for an employer to respond to a request for flexible working arrangements is also changing. It is changing to a more stringent process, which requires employers within 21 days to:
- Approve the request; or
- Have discussed and agreed with the employee changes to the requested working arrangements; or
- Have discussed, on reasonable business grounds, why they refuse to approve the request.
If an employer refuses the employee’s request or fails to respond within 21 days, employees are able to bring a dispute to the Fair Work Commission. The Fair Work Commission will now have larger powers to make orders when determining the disputes.
These changes are harsher on employers and will require employers to consider:
- The procedural fairness of their decision: that is, discussing their decision with the employee. It should be a collaborative discussion and not a one-sided discussion;
- The substantive fairness of their decision: that is, making sure that their decision is based on legitimate and fair reasons.
Employers should begin reviewing their current policies and update them to match the new procedural and substantive fairness requirements.
Abolishing The ABCC
Under the new legislation, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) will be eliminated. The National Construction Industry Forum will be established to provide advice to the government on the building and construction industry.
For employers, it is likely that the number of industrial disputes on building and construction sites will rise.
Employees in the building and construction industry will no longer be monitored by an industry-specific industrial regulator, and will have the same rights as other workers when enforcing the fair work legislation.
Employers who are subject to the ABCC should seek legal advice on their rights and obligations under the legislation.
If you would like our team to further explain the changes to employment laws and to ensure that your business is compliant with these changes, please contact a lawyer at Taurus legal Management on (03) 9481 2000 or email@example.com.