Employment rights to be entrenched in Fair Work Act

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As we find ourselves in the second half of 2023, it is important to keep up to date with changes the Australian Government is making, or has made, to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“FWA”) throughout the year and near future. Some changes have already taken affect whilst others will commence in December 2023/January 2024..

Unpaid parental leave – July 2023

From 1 July 2023, employees will have the opportunity to avail themselves of up to 100 days (previously 30 days) of their 12-month unpaid parental leave in a flexible manner within a 24-month window after the birth or placement of their child. Additionally, pregnant employees will have the option to access flexible unpaid parental leave up to 6 weeks before their child’s expected birth date. This ensures that employers cannot restrict employees from taking more than 8 weeks of unpaid parental leave simultaneously with their partners (i.e. concurrent leave).

These changes imply that both parents can choose to take unpaid parental leave at any time within 24 months following their child’s birth or placement. Furthermore, they have the option to request an extension of up to 12 months beyond the initial 12-month leave period.

Authorised deductions – December 2023

From 30 December 2023, employees may authorise employers to make salary deductions that are either recurring or which varies from time to time. This may be done through a single authorisation including circumstances where such deductions may vary periodically. Of course, an employer may withdraw such authorisation at any time. Previously, a new authorisation is required each time a deduction was to be made by the employer on behalf of the employee.

These changes do not impact the ongoing requirement that such deductions must be for the benefit of the employee and in writing.

Superannuation entitlements in the NES – January 2024

From 1 January 2024, employees will have a right to superannuation contributions under the National Employment Standards (NES). Any unpaid or underpaid superannuation will be enforceable under the FWA.

Whilst employers already have an obligation to make superannuation contributions for eligible employees under the superannuation guarantee laws, and additional obligation is created under the NES. This will not affect the Australian Taxation Office’s (“ATO”) role in ensuring compliance by employers under the superannuation guarantee laws.

The Fair Work Ombudsman will provide further updates as these changes come into effect.

If you would like to discuss any employment rights or legal questions, please contact our team today to see how we can assist you.

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