Hi guys, welcome to our monthly workplace legislation update. There haven’t been any major decisions confirmed this month, so I thought I might share with you a couple of important legislative proposals reflecting major focal areas over recent months.
Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017
A Bill which aims to enhance whistle-blower protections and may receive Royal Assent. If passed through, this means public companies and certain larger companies (such as those with at least 50 employees, $25 million in consolidated revenue or $12.5 million in assets by the end of a financial year), will be required by law to make available to employees, a whistle-blowers policy which includes information such as:
• whistle blower protections available to staff
• how a company will support whistle-blowers without causing a detriment to their employment,
• how the company will ensure fair treatment of parties involved
• and how investigations will occur
The aim of this proposed legislation, is to promote ethical behaviour and allow authorised disclosure of misconduct and certain legal contraventions, such as the engagement in improper tax or financial affairs.
If passed, failure to implement a whistle-blowers policy will be deemed a contravention of the Corporations Act 2001 and can lead to penalties imposed for non-compliance.
The Fair Work Amendment (Right to Request Casual Conversion) Bill
We also saw last year an increased nationwide focus on casual employee’s rights, particularly where they become engaged on a regular and systematic basis. Casual’s entitlements to paid annual leave and personal leave were deliberated in the Workpac vs Skene case and subsequent changes were made to the Fair Work Regulations, confirming that casual loading payments may be used to offset paid leave entitlements that regular and systematic casuals may be deemed eligible for. We also saw the introduction of a casual conversion clause into 85 modern awards. This year we see continued focus on casual rights with a Bill currently before the House of Representatives, proposing to insert a casual conversion provision into the Fair Work Act. If passed, we will see the extension of rights for non-award casuals engaged for a period of 12 months on a regular and systematic basis, to request a part-time or full-time contract.
Watch this space for confirmation of these two bills, we will hopefully hear more soon.
Real Estate Industry – Commission only contracts
And a quick reminder for those in the Real Estate industry employing commission only employees, as we approach the one year anniversary of changes made to the Real Estate Industry Award. Employers who engaged in commission only arrangements with their employees before 2 April 2018 will need to review their commission only arrangements before the 2nd April this year, to ensure the gross income of commission only employees is at least 125% if the base rate of the employee’s classification level. If it does not reach this threshold, employers will need to cease the commission only arrangement and revert back to the award entitlements.
That’s all from me for now. We will catch you next month!