Legislation update

Cases

Legislation update

In a press release on 9 May 2000, the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, Mr. Peter Reith outlined a further item on the Government's growing agenda of Workplace Reform.

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Federal
 
Registered Organisations Bill

In a press release on 9 May 2000, the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, Mr. Peter Reith outlined a further item on the Government's growing agenda of Workplace Reform.

In this instance the Minister was referring to the introduction of stand-alone registered organisations legislation. Subscribers will recall that in HR Link 151 and 152 of 1999, we reported release of an exposure draft bill - Registered Organisations Bill 2000 for public discussion and comment. The proposed Bill would remove registered organisation provisions from the Workplace Relations Act 1996, and create a separate Registered Organisations Act.

The Minister indicated in the press release that having taken on board comments made in relation to the exposure draft bill, the Government intends to introduce legislation in the 2000 Winter sittings of Parliament.

Budget 2000

Having announced the establishment of the Employee Entitlements Support Scheme (EESS) on 8 February 2000, last night's federal budget facilitated "bringing home of the bacon" in the form of $55 million to fund the scheme.

Under the EESS taxpayer funded payments may be made to eligible employees whose entitlements are not paid due to their employer's insolvency or bankruptcy. The scheme then claims the money back from employers if and when they become available. The Scheme provides eligible employees with a maximum of 29 weeks pay at ordinary rates for entitlements made up of:

  • up to 4 weeks unpaid wages;
  • up to 4 weeks annual leave;
  • up to 5 weeks pay in lieu of notice;
  • up to 4 weeks redundancy pay; and
  • up to 12 weeks long service leave

There is a $20,000 cap on the amount any individual employee can receive from the scheme.

New South Wales
 
Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Carers' Responsibilities) Bill 2000 (NSW)

The object of this Bill, which was introduced into the Legislative Council on 3 May 2000, is to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 to prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of a person's responsibility as a carer. The creation of this new ground of discrimination constitutes a key recommendation of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission's review of the principal Act. Details and an analysis of the Bill will feature in a future HR Link.

Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Sentencing Guidelines) Act, (NSW) 2000 No. 9.

Introduced into the New South Wales Legislative Council on 4 April 2000, the OHS Amendment (Sentencing Guidelines) Bill completed its passage through both Houses of Parliament on 14 April 2000. 

The new Act which was assented to on 3 May 2000, amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983 to enable the Attorney General to apply to the Full Bench of the Industrial Relations Commission in Court Session at any time to ask for a guideline judgement.

A guideline judgement is a judgement of a court that sets out guidelines for the sentencing of offenders. The guidelines are intended to facilitate consistency in sentencing. They are not intended to be binding on judges. 

The new Act will therefore, allow the Attorney General to request a guideline judgement at any time in respect of a specified offence or category of offences relating to occupational health and safety.

Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Police Officers) Act 2000, (NSW) No. 11.

Having passed through both Houses of the New South Wales Parliament on 3 May 2000, the OHS Amendment (Police Officers) Act was assented to on 8 May 2000. 

This Act also amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983, and confirms that police officers are employees of the Crown. The amendment Act removes any doubt that may arise about the status of police officers under the principal Act because police officers exercise independent functions.

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