New laws protecting vulnerable workers now in force


New laws protecting vulnerable workers now in force

New laws protecting vulnerable workers are now in force.


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After gaining royal assent on Friday, the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 has now come into effect.

This means new, higher penalties for serious contraventions of workplace laws and record keeping breaches start today.

New obligations extending liability for underpayment and other breaches in franchise and subsidiary networks to head offices will start in six weeks on 28 October.
The changes apply to all employers, companies and employees covered by the Fair Work Act but are particularly important for:
  • franchisors and holding companies
  • vulnerable employees
  • people or companies who do not voluntarily cooperate with Fair Work Ombudsman investigations.

Know your obligations

The Fair Work Ombudsman has published a range of information and resources on its website aimed at assisting all workplace participants to understand and comply with their obligations.

This includes information on who the changes affect, what the changes mean for you and what the changes are.

The Act includes a range of measures including an increase in the maximum penalties for employers who deliberately flout the minimum wage and other entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009. 

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says employers also need to make sure they are meeting pay slip and record-keeping obligations.

“Businesses that don’t keep the right records, don’t give proper pay slips, or who make false or misleading records and payslips can face higher penalties,” she said.

Ms James said franchisors and holding companies could be liable if their franchisees or subsidiaries don’t follow workplace laws, so it is important for them to make sure they take reasonable steps to prevent breaches of workplace laws in their networks. 
The Fair Work Ombudsman’s ‘Record My Hours’ smartphone app is aimed at tackling the persistent problem of underpayment of vulnerable young workers by using geofencing technology to provide workers with a record of the time they spend at their workplace.

The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

See also: Vulnerable workers bill finally clears Parliament
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