A change in Government –  what does it mean?

2 June 2022

On Saturday 21st March 2022, the Australian people went to the polls and elected a new Government, the Australian Labor Party (ALP). After 9 years under the Liberal Party, this federal shift brings with it some anticipated amendments to employment law and practices.

Any changes will take time to make their way into legislation, however we do know the promised focus of the new Federal Government so we have a good idea what these changes might be.

The ALP’s “Secure Australian Jobs Plan” aims to deliver more secure jobs, better pay and a fairer industrial relations system.

There is an increased focus on job security and the Labour government plans to enshrine secure work into the Fair Work Act. This means that job security, along with productivity, and economic growth; work and family balance and fairness, will be at the centre of all of the commissions decision-making.

“Employee like” workers

There is likely to be a strengthening of laws surrounding “employee-like” forms of work. This includes the introduction of changes to ensure minimum employment standards for new forms of work, such as gig work. In the gig economy, individuals provide services to consumers for a fee via digital platforms or marketplaces.

Casual employees

There will be renewed focus on casual employment. We understand there will be a standardisation of the tests applied to determine if an employee is truly a casual employee and more pathways to permanency if appropriate. Casual employees do not have a firm advance commitment to the duration of their employment or their day or hours of work. Given the likelihood of this change, now is the time to review your casual workforce.

Labour Hire and fixed term contracts

The ALP will ensure that workers employed through labour hire companies receive no less than workers employed directly with organisations. This is an attempt to ensure that employers do not use outsourced employment models to disadvantage workers.

In another attempt to minimise insecure work, the ALP will limit the use of fixed term contracts generally. An employer will only be able to offer a fixed term contract for the same role twice or for a maximum duration of two years. There will be some limited exceptions. This is likely to cause concern for some of our clients who have employed contractors for several years, however there is no need to panic. This is a great opportunity to review your contractors and prepare for any changes as they are legislated.

Portable leave entitlements

The ALP will enter consultations about portable leave entitlement schemes for employees in insecure work. It is unclear what this will look like or who it is likely to affect. These schemes are already in place in some sectors, such as allowing those employed in the construction industry to take long service leave entitlements with them to new employment. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates.

Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Recently the Fair Work Commission announced 10 paid family and domestic violence leave days for all employees covered by Awards, the Labor government will extend this to employees covered by the National Employment Standards.

What does this mean for you?

This might sound like a lot of changes to consider. With a change in Government after 9 years, this is to be expected. These changes won’t be implemented over night. Now is the perfect time to review how you have engaged your team.

Questions to consider: Does everyone have an up-to-date contract? Are the casual employees truly working as casuals? How long have the contractors been engaged on rolling contracts? Why is that? Is there anyone else working for my business who is acting like an employee?

Reach out to us for assistance. We can help you navigate the changes with confidence.

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