Legislation update 23/10/02

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Legislation update 23/10/02

Under a new Federal ALP Bill, employers would be prohibited from dismissing or victimising federal award and agreement employees who are absent from work because they are taking part in emergency operations as a member of an emergency services organisation; there are also new Victorian Government Bills on: additional protection for outworkers engaged in the clothing industry; and child employment.

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Under a new Federal ALP Bill, employers would be prohibited from dismissing or victimising federal award and agreement employees who are absent from work because they are taking part in emergency operations as a member of an emergency services organisation; there are also new Victorian Government Bills on: additional protection for outworkers engaged in the clothing industry; and child employment.

Federal ALP Bill to protect emergency services workers

Employers would be prohibited from dismissing or victimising federal award and agreement employees who are absent from work because they are taking part in emergency operations as a member of an emergency services organisation.

A Bill was introduced by the Federal Opposition on 21 October 2002 seeking to amend the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) to this effect. Similar legislation currently protects employees subject to State jurisdiction.

The Federal Government has not, as yet, stated its position on the Bill.

The text of the Bill is available on the Parliament of Australia website

Victorian outworkers (Improved Protection) Bill

The Victorian Government has legislation before the Lower House designed to provide additional protection for outworkers engaged in the clothing industry.

The Bill is based on provisions that exist in NSW and has the principal objectives of making sure outworkers receive similar entitlements to other employees. It also provides a mechanism for outworkers to recover any unpaid entitlements.

The deeming provisions in the Bill treat outworkers as employees for the purposes of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Long Service Leave Act, and the proposed new State industrial relations legislation.

The Bill provides for outworkers who have not received pay entitlements to seek payments from their apparent employer in circumstances where a chain of contractors are involved in the production process and it is not clear who the actual employer is.

The Bill also makes a principal contractor liable for payment in circumstances where a subcontractor who has actually engaged the outworker has failed to pay their due entitlements. Debate on the Bill has been adjourned until at least 24 October.

More information is available on the Victorian Government website.

Victorian Child Employment Bill

The Victorian Government has tabled in Parliament its Child Employment Bill that contains a number of important changes to the existing legislation.

Key features of the Bill include: 

  • setting a number of general conditions under which children aged between 13 and 15 will be permitted to work; 
  • permitting 11 to 13-year-olds to deliver newspapers and advertising material and make deliveries for a registered pharmacist; 
  • restricting children to performing light work such as clerical tasks, gardening, and farming chores; 
  • banning the employment of children between 9.00pm and 6.00am; 
  • restricting their employment to no more than three hours a day and 12 hours a week during school terms; and 
  • expressly excluding children from being employed during school hours on a school day.

Under revisions to the existing permit system, a permit will be required for the employment of children under 15, apart from children working in a family business.

Parents will be responsible for applying for the permit, however, the prospective employer and the child's school will also be required to sign the permit application. The employer will be required to pass a police check before a permit is issued. The Bill provides for development of a mandatory Code of Practice to regulate employment of children in the entertainment industry and it also contains a significant range of offences and penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

Lower House debate on the Bill has been adjourned until 24 October.

 

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