30th June is a busy time of year for many businesses, so you would be forgiven for not knowing that significant changes to the Fair Work Act were made on 28th June 2013 with the passing of the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013.  Most of the changes commence from 1st January 2014, but some commence before 27th December 2013, so there is not much time to prepare your business for the changes.

What changes commence before 27th December 2013?

There are 3 important changes that are due to commence earlier than the bulk of the changes.

First, flexible working arrangements.  Categories of persons who can make a request for a flexible working arrangement are being expanded to include, amongst others, carers, employees aged 55 and up, disabled employees and certain parents.

Second, concurrent parental leave.  Both parents can go on unpaid parental leave at the same time for a period of two to eight weeks.

Third, safe job transfers.  A pregnant employee is entitled to be transferred to a safe job if her existing position is unsafe having regard to the type of position and the employee’s health.  The pregnant employee is entitled to paid leave if there are no safe jobs.

What changes commence on 1st January 2014?

The bulk of the changes commence on 1st January 2014.  These changes are summarised below.

First, bullying provisions are being changed relating to how bullying is defined, who can apply to the Fair Work Commission if they are being bullied, the powers of the Fair Work Commission to make orders relating to bullying and the effect of an application regarding bullying on other possible applications.

Second, general protections provisions are being changed relating to orders the Fair Work Commission can make, resolving disputes by arbitration, costs orders and limits on appeals.

Third, right of entry provisions relating to accommodation and transport, interview locations and the power of the Fair Work Commission regarding entry frequency are being changed.

Fourth, consultation with employees will be mandatory for employers if they want to change ordinary hours of work or rosters.

These changes are important for all employers, in particular those relating to bullying, so employers should familiarise themselves with the changes and prepare for them by reviewing any existing company policies, developing new policies to fill any gaps and training employees to minimise the risk of future problems.

Conclusion

For legal advice on the changes to the law and how they might impact on you, contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755 and speak with one of our experienced lawyers.

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