Australia: Federal Election Reforms

We’re delighted to have launched our Australian Federal Election Reforms – IR Policy and the 2019 Federal Election hub. Look forward to weekly additions to this site focusing on the practical impacts for business in the face of the upcoming election.

This week, Rohan Doyle considers Enterprise Bargaining – if it’s ‘Broken’, is there a Fix Ahead? 

In case you missed last week’s article, Anthony Longland investigated the ALP Industrial Relations Policy. Discover more by clicking here. Continue reading

Australia: New enterprise, existing employees: the High Court says Yes

The High Court has confirmed that an enterprise agreement for a new enterprise can be made with existing employees who have agreed to work, but are not at that time actually working, as employees in the new enterprise.

The High Court’s decision may provide employers with an increased ability to negotiate enterprise agreements for new enterprises with existing employees, rather than as greenfields agreements.

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Australia: Employers get the good oil on strikes and coercion

In Esso Australia Pty Ltd v The Australian Workers Unions [2017] HCA 54, the High Court of Australia held that:

  • Where a person contravenes an order in relation to an enterprise agreement or matter arising from bargaining, that person remains precluded from taking protected industrial action after the expiry of the contravened order, until the conclusion of the relevant bargaining. This is so, even if the order concerns minor procedural matters and even if the breach is quickly rectified.
  • Where a person takes action with the intent to coerce another person in breach of section 343 or 348 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), the intent or belief of the person with respect to lawfulness of the action will not be relevant to determining whether the conduct amounts to coercion.

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Australia: Vulnerable workers legislation has commenced

The Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 received royal assent on 14 September 2017 and commenced the following day.

From 15 September 2017, employers can face:

  • a penalty of up $630,000 (or $126,000 for an individual) for a ‘serious contravention’ of a civil remedy provision; and
  • a penalty of up to $63,000 (or $12,600 for an individual) for failing to give payslips or keep appropriate records – even if the breach was inadvertent. 

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Australia: Latest data on enterprise bargaining wages trends – March 2017 quarter

The ‘Trends in Federal Enterprise Bargaining’ report for January-March 2017 was released by the Department of Employment yesterday.

This data is a valuable tool for benchmarking during any enterprise agreement negotiations you have coming up.

The latest report reveals that:

  • Across the country, Victoria again recorded the highest average annual wages increase (AAWI) with 3.2% for the quarter, compared to Western Australia with the lowest at 1.9%.
  • The mining and construction industries had the largest drops in AAWI this quarter (0.9% and 1.0% respectively). However, while mining is now the industry with the lowest AAWI (at 1.4%), construction remained the industry with the highest annual wage growth at 4.2%.
  • As a general trend, wage growth continues to slide across both the private and public sectors when comparing enterprise agreements approved during the March 2017 quarter with both the last quarter (December 2016) and the same quarter last year (March 2016). Continue reading

Australia: New corrupting benefits legislation – what do employers need to know now?

Employers will have to adopt strict safeguards and auditing measures to ensure compliance with the new corrupting benefits legislation which commences on 11 September 2017.

The Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Bill 2017 (Cth) enacts recommendations arising out of the Heydon Royal Commission in relation to corrupting benefits made between employers and employee organisations. Continue reading