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IR Reforms and your business. How does the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2020 affect you?

by Melissa Behrend
| Jun 2, 2021 | |

The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 represents the most substantial reforms to Australia's industrial system since the Fair Work Act was introduced in 2009.  


The Bill was designed to support Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its goal is to stimulate job growth and support struggling businesses, as well as to protect and enhance the rights of workers.  


It’s vital for business owners to stay on top of these important changes. 


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What you need to know 


The Fair Work Amendment Bill 2020 is an important Industrial Relations response by the government to the downturn in employment and investment as a result of the pandemic.  The key objectives of the Bill are to provide more clarity and certainty to both employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities, as well as promoting a more streamlined and usable industrial relations system. 


A summary of the amendments  


The Bill targets five key areas of the IR system:  

  1. Award simplification – cuts red tape and improves flexibility and job opportunities in 12 Awards covering the retail and hospitality sectors, which were heavily impacted by the pandemic.  
  2. Casual employment – provides clarity and certainty around the legal status of casual employees and the pathway for regular shift workers to convert to permanent roles after 12 months if they wish to.   
  3. Compliance and enforcement – reduces the risk of wage underpayments by improving compliance processes and mechanism to rectify underpayments, as well as the introduction of a new criminal penalty with a four-year jail term and/or a penalty of up to $1.1 million for an individual or $5.55 million for a body corporate for deliberate exploitation.  
  4. Enterprise Bargaining – simplifies the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) and sets a 21-day approval deadline to drive productivity gains and real wage growth.
  5.  Greenfields agreements – aims to boost global investment in large scale job-creating projects through new maximum eight-year life-of-construction agreements with appropriate safeguards and guaranteed wage increases. 


How does it affect you? 


Fair Work Amendment Bill 2020 changes are significant and affect different employers in different ways. Your business may need to review and update your HR practices and compliance if:   

  • You have casual employees or are planning to hire them 
  • You’d like to convert casual employees to full-time or part-time employment 
  • Have some award covered part-time employees 
  • You haven’t updated your compliance checks and processes to reflect the civil penalties and new criminal offences related to underpayment of employees 
  • You will be undertaking enterprise bargaining or 
  • Are planning Greenfields Agreements 

If you’re not sure where to start, Hr on Call can help. Our experienced HR consultants are here to help you keep up to date with legislation changes.  


We’re here to help 

Take advantage of improvements to the Industrial Relations system designed to get Australians back in the workplace after the pandemic and avoid new fines and penalties implemented to help protect Australian workers.  


Contact HR on Call today. 

Written by Melissa Behrend

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