Important Changes to the Fair Work Act - What Employers Need to Know
By Elizabeth Olsson, Mellor Olsson Lawyers
The Government's amendments to the Fair Work Act arising out of a review of the system came into effect on 1 January, 2013. Some are cosmetic, some are substantial.
The changes affecting dismissals take employers back to the situation that existed pre-Work Choices! Outlined below is a summary of some of the key changes.
Time Limits Extended and Harmonised
- a worker will now have 21 days to bring an unfair dismissal claim instead of the current 14.
- a worker claiming unlawful dismissal under the general protections of the Act will have 21 days to bring their claim, not the current 60.
The Fair Work Commission - Fair Work Australia (formerly the Australian Industrial Relations Commission) will now be known as the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
Clarification of Application of General Protections - termination of independent contractors' contracts due to adverse action will be covered by the scheme.
Extra Powers in dismissal cases
- FWC will have greater powers to dismiss applications brought vexatiously or where an applicant has unreasonably failed to attend a conference, comply with an order or discontinue an action.
- FWC has wider powers to award costs against a party or their lawyer but otherwise it is confirmed that FWC is generally a "no costs" jurisdiction.
- Agreements can no longer be made with one employee only.
- Agreements can no longer contain "opt out" terms.
- Unions can not be part of the bargaining process unless some of the employees involved are union members.
- The notice of employee representational rights prescribed by the regulations cannot be modified.
- The question of when Awards can be varied and by whom has been clarified.
- Awards are to include a default superannuation term, and conduct four-yearly reviews of default superannuation fund terms in awards (will not commence before 1 January 2014).
6 Expert Panel Members will have responsibility for the annual wage review and review of the default superannuation fund terms from 1 July 2013.
For further information contact Elizabeth Olsson Ph: 8414 3400 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org