No Changes to WorkChoices from High Court

Analysis

No Changes to WorkChoices from High Court

As you will have heard by now the High Court has determined that the WorkChoices laws are valid in their entirety. What does the decision mean? In short, the High Court's decision means that the Federal Government's WorkChoices laws, as enacted, are enforceable and need to be complied with.

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As you will have heard by now the High Court has determined that the WorkChoices laws are valid in their entirety. What does the decision mean? In short, the High Court's decision means that the Federal Government's WorkChoices laws, as enacted, are enforceable and need to be complied with.

Are the laws likely to change?

Yes. The High Court decision does not mean there will be no further changes to workplace laws.

Changes in the short and medium term will come from a number of areas:

  1. The Federal Government, as recently as two days ago, announced further changes to WorkChoices and foreshadowed the possibility of more changes to come. The detail of the announced changes is yet to be finalised.
  2. The Courts and other Tribunals when interpreting both the WorkChoices laws, other workplace legislation and the common law, will cause the laws to change over time.
  3. It is expected that State Governments will react to the High Court's decision by further legislation in areas where WorkChoices does not operate, such as in relation to discrimination laws and occupational health and safety.

What should employers do?

If you are a constitutional corporation waiting for certainty from the High Court before making new workplace agreements, that certainty has been provided and you can go ahead and start negotiating and implementing new workplace agreements.

If you are a constitutional corporation still trying to work out what records to keep - particularly in the area of hours records, we recommend that you hold off making final decisions until the amendments foreshadowed yesterday are clarified.

If you are an employer that predominantly operated in the State system prior to 27 March this year and was hoping that the High Court would allow you to return to that system, you need to start complying with the WorkChoices laws immediately if you have not already done so.

* Australian Business Lawyers is a law firm specialising in all areas of workplace law.

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