What Fair Work changes start today?

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What Fair Work changes start today?

The ‘family friendly’ amendments to the Fair Work Act, involving unpaid parental leave, special maternity leave and the right to request flexible work commence today, 1 July 2013.

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The ‘family friendly’ amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009, including unpaid parental leave, special maternity leave and the right to request flexible work commence today, 1 July 2013.
 
Parental leave

Parts 1, 2 and 3 of Sch 1 of the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 were proclaimed last Friday. These amendments make the following changes to the FW Act:
    • The existing right to request flexible working arrangements have been extended to include employees who are parents of school age children, are carers, have a disability, or are over 55 years old. There are also extended provisions in connection with violence from family members.
    • The inclusion of a non-exhaustive list of what constitutes 'reasonable business grounds' for refusing requests for part-time work on return from parental leave, or a request for flexible working arrangements.
    • The amount of concurrent unpaid parental leave that a couple can take has been increased from 3 weeks to 8 weeks, and can now be taken at any time within the first 12 months of the birth or adoption of a child.
Transfer to a safe job

In addition, Pt 5 of Sch 1 commences today. It ‘contains amendments to the FW Act to expand the right for pregnant women to transfer to a safe job to all pregnant employees regardless of their length of service [emphasis added]. The amendments in Part 5 also provide that if there is no appropriate safe job available:
    • The current arrangements for an employee who is entitled to unpaid parental leave and who has complied with the notice and evidence requirements continue and the employee will be entitled to paid no safe job leave, and
    • A new provision provides that an employee who is not entitled to unpaid parental leave and who complies with any evidence requirements is entitled to unpaid no safe job leave.’

If no safe job exists, the employee is entitled to unpaid leave. Taking unpaid special maternity leave will not reduce entitlements to unpaid parental leave.

Information Statement
 
The Fair Work Information Statement is amended with effect from today so that it must now include details of the range of circumstances as set out in the Fair Work Act (ss65(1A) and (1B)) in which an employee may request a change in working arrangements. The new-look Statement is not yet available, so the Fair Work Ombudsman’s advises employers in the meantime to continue using the existing Statement available on its website.  
 
A number of amendments in relation to the operation of the Fair Work Commission commence also today.
 
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