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Recent Fair Work Act Amendments:  What Employers Need to Know

Recent Fair Work Act Amendments: What Employers Need to Know

Employers and Franchisors should become familiar with the revised workplace laws to ensure they do not breach any of the newly enforced provisions to the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017

So, let’s take a look at the changes..

On 15th September 2017, the new Fair Work laws protecting vulnerable workers came into effect, meaning that higher penalties for serious breaches of the amended workplace laws and record keeping stipulations are now already in force.

A summary of the new changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 are:

  1. An increase in the penalties for ‘serious contraventions’ of workplace laws
  2. Employers cannot ask for ‘cashback’ from employees or prospective employees
  3. Penalties for breaches of record-keeping and pay slip obligations have been increased
  4. Employers who don’t meet record-keeping or pay slip obligations without a reasonable excuse will need to disprove wage claims made in a court (also referred to as a reverse onus of proof)
  5. Powers have been strengthened to collect evidence in investigations with the help of Fair Work Investigators
  6. Introduction of new penalties for giving false or misleading information, or hindering or obstructing any investigations

Record-Keeping

For each employee, certain information needs to be kept on file which is legible, in English and readily accessible to a Fair Work Inspector.  The minimum information to keep should be as follows:

  • •  General employee personal information
  • •  Pay
  • •  Hours of work
  • •  Leave
  • •  Superannuation contributions
  • •  Individual flexibility agreements
  • •  Guarantee of annual earnings
  • •  Transfer of business

 Pay Slips

Pay slips need to be given to an employee no later than 1 working day after their payday regardless of whether that employee is on leave.  Information on the pay slip should be clear to understand and include the following information:

  • •  Employer’s and employee’s name
  • •  Employer’s Australian Business Number (if applicable)
  • •  Pay period
  • •  Date of payment
  • •  Gross and net pay
  • •  If the employee is paid an hourly rate:
  •      •  the ordinary hourly rate
  •      •  the number of hours worked at that rate
  •      •  the total dollar amount of pay at that rate
  • •  Any loadings, allowances, bonuses, incentive-based payments, penalty rates or other paid entitlements that can be separated out from an employee’s ordinary hourly rate
  • •  The pay rate that applied on the last day of employment
  • •  Any deductions from the employee’s pay, including:
  •      •  the amount and details of each deduction
  •      •  the name, or name and number of the fund / account the deduction was paid into
  • •  Any superannuation contributions paid for the employee’s benefit, including:
  •      •  the amount of contributions made during the pay period (or that need to be made)
  •      •  the name and / or number of the superannuation fund the contributions were made to

Payment Summary/PAYG Summary

At the end of each financial year, employers have to give employees a payment summary or pay as you go (PAYG) payment summary of their income for the past year as enforced by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Franchisors and Holding Companies

Furthermore, on the 27th October 2017, new obligations which extend liability for underpayment and other breaches relating to franchisors and holding companies will also commence.  This means that any franchisors or companies that have control over subsidiary companies can be liable if their franchisee or subsidiary also doesn’t follow the new workplace laws about minimum entitlements, national employee standards, employee awards, false or misleading contracting, record keeping and play slips.

If the Fair Work Investigators can prove that a franchisor or holding company knew, or could have reasonably known that their franchisee or subsidiary wasn’t following the workplace laws and then failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it happening, liability can fall on them; so it would be wise to push for best practices across all networks to be safe.

Failure to comply with these newly revised workplace laws or a Fair Work Ombudsman Notice can result in a Fair Work Inspector issuing you with an infringement notice (similar to an on the spot fine) for 1 or more breaches, which can be a payment of:

  • Up to $126,000 per breach for an individual
  • Up to $630,000 per breach for a corporation

For more information, free templates or if you need further assistance in managing your workplace legislation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Human Resource Services on 07 5530 1571.

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