The new year was ushered in by music and fireworks, but for the majority of employers and employees who are covered by the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act), the new year is also significant for the number of new employment provisions that commenced on 1 January 2014.
The most well-known of these are the bullying provisions that allow the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to deal with bullying complaints where a worker reasonably believes he or she has been bullied at work. There has been a lot of public discussion about the new bullying provisions, but it is not clear if the FWC has received any complaints yet. Click here to view our previous blog on this.
Other changes to the FW Act that commenced on 1 January 2014 include:
- changes to modern awards to include a clause requiring employers to consult with employees before changing their regular rosters or ordinary hours of work;
- a provision that all new enterprise agreements must include a clause requiring employers to consult with employees before changing their regular rosters or ordinary hours of work;
- changes to the right of entry rules, which will, amongst other things, allow unions to hold interviews and discussions with their members in lunch or crib rooms if the union and the employer cannot agree on a location;
- extending the FWC’s jurisdiction to include consent arbitration of general protections disputes involving termination of employment as an alternative to court action.
These changes are in addition to the new family-friendly provisions in the National Employment Standards that commenced in July 2013, which include extended unpaid parental leave provisions and right to request flexible working arrangements.
Employers currently negotiating enterprise agreements should also be aware that the FWC will not approve an agreement that requires superannuation contributions for default fund employees to be made to a superannuation fund unless that fund offers a MySuper product, amongst other things.
If you have any questions about the changes to the FW Act, parental leave and flexible working arrangements, or the new enterprise bargaining requirements, please call us.