Employment law has been a revolving door for state and federal governments over the last decade. However, 2 recent reviews illustrate that we are likely to see a return to incremental change in the short to medium term future. Firstly, as part of the 4 yearly review of “modern” industrial awards, the Fair Work Commission has directed several small across the board changes to awards which have the potential to be of benefit to both employers and employees, including:

1. Awards will include an annual leave “cashing out” provision bringing award employees into line with non award employees;
2. Employers will have a qualified power to require award employees to take excessive annual leave accruals;
3. Employers will be able to grant annual leave in advance with the power to deduct any unaccrued payment on termination of employment; and
4. A standard Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) provision is likely to be inserted into all modern awards.

These changes will fix several award issues which have not been able to be addressed by prudent use of employment contracts.  Also in the news has been the Productivity Commission’s draft report into Australia’s workplace relations framework. Whilst finding that Australia’s workplace relations system is not dysfunctional, it has made several draft recommendations which are controversial, particularly in a climate where the major political parties regard industrial relations as “off limits”, including:

1. Making Sunday penalty rates the same as for Saturday in the café, hospitality, entertainment, restaurant and retailing industries; and
2. Introducing a new simpler form of enterprise agreement called an “enterprise contract” to fill the gap between enterprise agreements and individual arrangements.

The PC’s final report is not due until the end of the year. However, the final report may be important as a marker for future changes and may influence the positions taken by the major parties in the next federal election. Whilst change may be more incremental than has been the case in recent times, it is still important to keep up to date with and adapt to those changes. Please contact us if you would like further information on these matters.

Christmas hours

Our office will be closed from 5pm on Wednesday 9 December 2015 and will reopen on Monday 4 January 2016.  Please contact our office if you need urgent assistance over this time.

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year