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Protecting Worker Entitlements - Further changes introduced to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

On 22 June 2023, the Federal Government passed the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023 (Cth). The Amendment Act introduces a number of changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) aimed at protecting worker entitlements, promoting gender equality and delivering reforms to improve fairness in the workplace relations system.

On 22 June 2023, the Federal Government passed the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023 (Cth) (Amendment Act).

The Amendment Act introduces a number of changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) aimed at protecting worker entitlements, promoting gender equality and delivering reforms to improve fairness in the workplace relations system.

The Amendment Act implements the following key changes to the FW Act:

  • increased access to flexible unpaid parental leave (UPL) and the removal of barriers to parents sharing caring responsibilities, including by:
    • increasing flexibility for working parents by allowing them to take up to 100 days (previously 30 days) of their UPL entitlement flexibly;
    • allowing pregnant employees to access their flexible leave entitlement up to six weeks before the expected date of birth of their child;
    • removing the restrictions preventing employees who are married or in a de facto relationship from taking more than eight weeks of UPL at the same time; and
    • allowing both parents to take up to 12 months of UPL and to request an extension of up to 12 months without impacting the leave the other parent takes,
  • a new entitlement to superannuation under the National Employment Standards (NES), meaning that unpaid or underpaid superannuation will now be in contravention of the NES in addition to the existing superannuation guarantee laws;
  • expanding the circumstances in which employees can authorise employers to make valid deductions from payments due to employees, only where the deductions are principally for the employee’s benefit;
  • clarifying that an enterprise agreement ceases to apply when it is replaced by a workplace determination issued by the Fair Work Commission;
  • providing greater certainty to the work status of migrant workers by dealing with the interaction between the FW Act and the Migration Act 1958 (Cth); and
  • ensuring that casual employees working in the black coal mining industry are treated no less favourably than permanent employees with respect to their long service leave entitlements under the Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Scheme.

The majority of these changes came into effect on 1 July 2023, being the date that the Amendment Act received royal assent, to the exception of:

  • authorised workplace determinations, which will take effect on 30 December 2023;
  • casual employee entitlements working in the black coal industry, which will take effect on the earlier of a date fixed by Proclamation and 1 January 2024; and
  • the right to superannuation in the NES, which will take effect on 1 January 2024.

How can we help you?

Employers should now turn their minds to the effect that these changes may have on their business and consider updating any policies, procedures or payroll processes that may be impacted by these changes.

As always, we are here to help our valued clients as they navigate yet another set of changes to the FW Act. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our Directors at sydney@workplacelaw.com.au or you can call us at (02) 9256 7500.

Information provided in this news alert is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this news alert, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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