One of the highest profile changes to employment law last year was the passing of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022. After months of debate, it officially became law at the end of 2022.
Framed as one of the most comprehensive industrial relation reforms since the Fair Work Act was introduced in 2009, its essential businesses are aware of the changes and prepare.
Reviewed by employment law specialists at EI Legal, this factsheet takes you through everything you need to know about the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill so you can get prepared for the changes coming your way.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is relevant as at 11 Jan 2023, and has been prepared by Employment Hero Pty Ltd ABN (11 160 047 709) (Employment Hero). The views expressed herein are general information only and are provided in good faith to assist employers and their employees. The Information is based on data supplied by third parties. While such data is believed to be accurate, it has not been independently verified and no warranties are given that it is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for the purpose for which it is required. Employment Hero does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such data and is not liable for any loss or damages arising either directly or indirectly as a result of reliance on, use of or inability to use any information provided in this article.
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What is the ‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay’ bill?
At a high level, the Bill introduces a new set of workplace laws, and changes to a number of existing ones, to encourage greater job security and better pay conditions.
It covers changes to:
- Pay secrecy, job advertisements and flexible working conditions;
- Gender equality in the workplace and the small claims process;
- Enterprise agreements and bargaining; and
- Abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and Registered Organisations Commission (ROC).
When will the ‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay’ bill be implemented?
While some changes came into effect on 7 December 2022, many more will come into effect throughout 2023. We’ve covered some of the updates below, however you can find all of the changes under the Secure Jobs, Better Pay bill here.
Key changes to the Fair Work Act
Changes to multi-employer enterprise agreements
One of the most significant amendments are the changes to multi-employer bargaining. Once a complex and difficult process for employees to navigate, the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill makes it easier for them to bargain with employers by removing existing barriers.
Changes to the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT)
The BOOT test is a set of criteria that the Fair Work Commission applies when determining whether or not an enterprise agreement is approved.
Put simply, this is a test that only allows enterprise agreements to be approved if all employees will be better off under the new enterprise agreement compared to a Modern Award.
Enterprise bargaining can be commenced by employees much more simply
Previously, it was difficult for employees to commence enterprise bargaining and would involve the employer deciding if it would begin. Employees had to apply to the Fair Work Commission for a ‘majority support determination’, proving that most employees wanted to bargain with them if an employer did not.
Sunsetting of ‘zombie’ agreements
Enterprise agreements that were approved before 1 January 2010 will now be terminated on 6 December, 2023. Employers are required to give written notice to their employees notifying them of the termination of their enterprise agreement by 6 June, 2023.
Expansion of requests for flexible working
From 6 June 2023, more employees will be able to request flexible working conditions. This will include:
- Employees (or members of their immediate family or household) experiencing family and domestic violence; and
- Employees who are pregnant.
Unpaid parental leave requests
From 6 June 2023, parents who request unpaid leave for a period greater than 12 months will have a stronger right to request an extension of unpaid parental leave.
Restrictions on the use of fixed-term contracts
Under the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill, a new set of restrictions will come into force on the use of fixed-term contracts.
Increased protection against sexual harassment in the workplace
In November 2022, the Respect@Work Bill was passed, with the aim of making workplaces safe, equitable and free from sexual harassment and abuse.
Previously, this legislation needed employees who experienced this to lodge a complaint before any change or action was taken.
Prohibiting job advertisements that outline unlawful rates of pay
From 7 January 2023, job ads cannot include pay rates that are below employees’ minimum entitlements. This includes any rates of pay that breach the Fair Work Act, Modern Award or an enterprise agreement.
National Construction Industry Forum
From 1 July 2023, an ongoing National Construction Industry Forum will be established as a statutory advisory body. It will provide advice to the Government on multiple areas relevant to the building and construction industry – such as workplace relations, industry culture, skills, training, safety, gender equity and productivity.
And lots more!
Confused about employment law? Let us help.
Does all of this talk about employment law have you feeling overwhelmed and confused? We don’t blame you – it’s some tricky business.
But that’s where Employment Hero can help. Our purpose-built HR and payroll system updates when changes like the above occur. It can give you peace of mind knowing that your HR and payroll software is always up to date and in line with local employment laws.