Further WorkChoices amendments now in Bill form

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Further WorkChoices amendments now in Bill form

On 13 November the Federal Government announced that it would streamline the record keeping obligations under WorkChoices as well as make changes to redundancy provisions, stand-down without pay, and cashing out untaken sick leave over a certain amount. The Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Independent Contractors) Bill 2006 has now been amended by the Government to include these additional changes to WorkChoices legislation.

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On 13 November the Federal Government announced that it would streamline the record keeping obligations under WorkChoices as well as make changes to redundancy provisions, stand-down without pay, and cashing out untaken sick leave over a certain amount. The Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Independent Contractors) Bill 2006 has now been amended by the Government to include these additional changes to WorkChoices legislation.

Redundancy

Schedule 3 of the Bill contains amendments relating to protecting redundancy entitlements. It would provide for the preservation of agreement-based redundancy provisions for a maximum period of 12 months after a workplace agreement, pre-reform certified agreement (CA), pre-reform Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) or a preserved State agreement (PSA) is terminated either unilaterally with 90 days written notice, or by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) where it is not contrary to the public interest, on application by the employer.

In addition, the measures will provide for the treatment of preserved redundancy provisions on transmission of business.

Stand-down

Schedule 4 would insert new provisions dealing with the standing down of employees in certain circumstances where work is unavailable due to events out of the control of the employer.

Cap on annual leave accrual

Schedule 5 would make a number of technical amendments to Part 7 of the Act relating to the Standard, including amendments that would:

  • modify the frequency of payment guarantee, so that where a contract of employment or workplace agreement guarantees an employee frequency of payment for periods of one month or less, the employer must comply with such provisions
  • cap the accrual of annual and personal/carer’s leave so that leave does not accrue in respect of hours worked above 38 hours per week

Personal/Carer's leave - hourly rate and cash-out

In addition Schedule 5 makes amendments that would:

  • change the payment rule for personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave and leave for pregnant employees who cannot be transferred to a safe job, so that an employee is entitled to be paid a rate for each hour of leave taken at his or her hourly basic periodic rate of pay (consistent with the payment rule for annual leave), and
  • enable an employee to request to cash out an amount of paid personal/carer’s leave each year, provided that a minimum balance of at least 15 days leave remains available after cashing out (for full-time employees, pro rata for part-time employees).

Other technical amendments

Schedule 6 would make a number of technical amendments including:

  • clarifying the relationship between the Standard and pre-reform CAs, pre-reform AWAs, section 170MX awards [ie awards arbitrated by the AIRC] and PSAs to ensure that if such an instrument does not deal with one or more of the minimum entitlements covered by the Standard, an employee will have the benefit of the Standard in respect of those entitlements
  • ensuring that employees may waive both the requirement to have a workplace agreement and the requirement to have the information statement for seven days before approving that agreement or a variation to it
  • enabling Notional Agreements Preserving State Awards (NAPSA) and PSAs to operate, within certain limitations, in conjunction with pre-reform CAs and AWAs
  • clarifying that a term of a NAPSA is only unenforceable in relation to a particular employee, where the Standard also provides for a matter in relation to that employee, and
  • amending the rules which provide for the continuing operation of s170MX

Details

The amendments are available at this website, and the Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum is available at this website.

Related

WorkChoices developments - High Court decision, records keeping and other changes

  

 

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