By Phillip Leaman

22 July 2013

The Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 is now law. Some changes operate from 1 July 2013 and the balance from 1 January 2014.

What has changed as at 1 July 2013?

  • Groups of employees who have the right to seek flexible working arrangements has been expanded. The reasons why an employer may refuse the request for flexible working arrangements has been clarified
  • The requirement for employers to transfer pregnant employees from high risk jobs to safe jobs (if one is available) during periods when the employee is able to work but a doctor states that the risks associated with the job are too great on the employee. If there is no safe job then the employee is entitled to be paid during the risk period

What will change as at 1 January 2014?

  • An obligation on employers to genuinely consult employees about changes to rosters or hours of work
  • Anti-Bullying measures including an employee’s right to seek an order for bullying to stop. Employees can make an application to the Fair Work Commission (which must be dealt with within 14 days)
  • The Fair Work Commission now have the ability to arbitrate dismissal disputes if both parties consent. This avoids the need for an employee to issue proceedings in a Court if a mediation/conciliation is unsuccessful
  • The Fair Work Commission will need to take into account overtime, unsocial, irregular or unpredictable hours, weekend and public holiday work and shift work when determining whether additional pay should be given to employees when a modern award is made or changed

What do you need to do?

  • Make sure you put adequate procedures in place to stop bullying and to address the issues which are subject to change under the Act
  • When changing rosters and hours of work give employees information about the change and seek the employee’s views on how the changes affect them. Employers will need to consider the employee’s views on changes made.

Employers should undertake a review of their compliance with the Fair Work Act and ensure that they have adequate and lawful employment agreements and procedures in place.

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