Well, 2015 has well and truly started with a bang and woken us from our summer slumber!  So what is likely to lay ahead this year?

The reality is that the (likely) election of a Labor government in Queensland is unlikely to impact directly on employment laws for private sector organisations.  The referral of private sector industrial powers to the federal government in 2010 means the Palaszczuk government’s reforms will largely be limited to the public and local government sectors.  Of most relevance is the incoming government’s promise to stop allowing employers to question the workers compensation history of workers before offering employment.  There may also be some increased regulation in the workplace health and safety space and changes to workers compensation laws.

At a federal level, the much publicised improved paid parental leave scheme due to start in July this year has been scrapped, with the government stating that additional funds will be directed towards childcare assistance to working parents.  The government currently has several reviews underway directed at potential reform of the industrial relations system addressing, amongst other things, minimum wages, penalty rates and enterprise bargaining.  It had been thought that these might lead to proposals by the federal government for change at the next election.

For better or worse, one of the effects of the Queensland election will likely be to stop this reform process for the foreseeable future, in the name of electoral longevity.  For the private sector at least, this means that there is likely to be little change to the fundamentals of employment law, namely a core set of terms and conditions for all employees including a minimum wage, a system of industrial awards and widely available unfair dismissal laws, regardless of the party in power. Employers will need to know how to work with these fundamentals.

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