Workplace Relations Proposed Reforms – Update


23 Mar, 2021

Late last year, the Federal Government introduced two bills to amend the Fair Work Act 2009.

Originally, the bills were wide-ranging in their attempts at workplace reform and included features such as criminalising wages theft, part-time employment changes, changes to the better off overall test as part of enterprise bargaining, and greenfields projects agreement changes.

These reforms have now been scrapped before the Senate, which means it is unlikely that we will see changes to any of these workplace areas this year.

However, one reform relating to legally defining casual employment and specifying the process for switching from casual to permanent work after 12 months of consistent and regular employment has passed the Senate.

The bill defines casuals as someone offered work without “firm, advance commitment” of ongoing opportunities.

It compels employers to offer casuals who have been working consistent and regular shifts for 12 months, conversion to full time or permanent part-time employment.

There are exemptions for small business owners and for employers who have reasonable grounds to refuse the conversion.

When the bill was before the Senate, the ACTU and the Council of Small Business provided a shared alternative and more specific definition in a show of unity.

While this definition was supported by Labor and introduced as an amendment, it was voted down in the Senate and not adopted.

The bill will now go back to the House for final review and debate.

When the bill is passed, we will amend any relevant sections of our HR Policies Manuals for our members to reflect the changes.

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HR Author and Lecturer with over 25 years' experience in human resources and workplace relations in Australia. Lead Author of Instant HR Policies & Procedures, NDIS Direct Employment HR Manual, and Employee Performance Reviews: Tips, Templates and Tactics.

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