Changes to Australia’s Fair Work Act

The Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 (Cth) commenced on 28 June 2013, making changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

However, some of the most important changes, including the Fair Work Commission’s new anti-bullying jurisdiction, do not take effect until 1 January 2014. Other changes will commence on a date to be proclaimed.

Key changes effective 1 January 2014:

  • Anti-bullying: a worker who is bullied at work will be able to apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying.
  • Consultation: employers must consult employees about changes to regular rosters or ordinary work hours.
  • Right of entry: where there is no agreement on where to hold discussions, the site lunchroom will be the default venue. Also, the Commission will be able to deal with disputes about the frequency of discussions.
  • Consent arbitration for general protections: in dismissal disputes, after conciliation, rather than proceeding to court, the parties may agree to arbitration by the Commission.

On a date to be proclaimed:

  • Family Friendly measures, including expanding the right to request flexible working arrangements, and increasing the maximum period of concurrent unpaid parental leave from three to eight weeks, will commence.
  • The Fair Work Commission will have the express function of “promoting cooperative and productive workplace relations and preventing disputes”.

The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 has also passed through Parliament, amending the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to prevent discrimination on the grounds named in the title.

Note also that on 1 July 2013, the income threshold for Unfair Dismissal claims increased to $129,300, and the maximum compensation for Unfair Dismissal is now the lesser of 6 months remuneration and $64,650.

For further information, please contact:

Paul Lorraine
Special Counsel and Team Leader
Tel: 02 9993 8593 (direct)