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Last month we wrote about how complex things were becoming for running a business, particularly when it came to employing staff and ensuring they are being paid properly.

Every time there is new Government it seems like one of the first areas they look to change is the employer/employee landscape. There has been a bit of publicity over the last week or so regarding a bill that has been introduced to Federal Parliament, the Fair Work Legislation (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill.

Whilst there is still a lot to play out and no-one yet knows what the final changes will look like, it has the potential to result in some of the most significant changes to workplace relations since the introduction of the Fair Work Act in 2009.

In its current form, the Bill will make a range of changes to the Fair Work Act, including:

  • Abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which regulates unlawful industrial conduct in these industries.
  • Prohibiting pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts, which will have the effect of employees being able to discuss their pay with other employees. As things sit currently, an employer is able to contain a clause in an employment contract which prohibits an employee from disclosing or discussing their pay.
  • Strengthening measures to prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Limiting the use of fixed-term employment contracts, by limiting their use for the same role to two consecutive years or a maximum term of two years, with some exceptions.
  • Strengthening flexible work arrangements by providing employees with the ability to challenge their employer’s refusal of a request for flexible work arrangements in the Fair Work Commission.

Whilst nothing it locked in stone yet and the Bill will be subject to further debate in Parliament, given the wide-ranging nature of the changes proposed, it is definitely a ‘watch this space’ for employers and employees in all industries as there will potentially be significant changes that people will need to grapple with.

This article was published in The Stock Journal in November, 2022.