‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay’ Reforms: Part 1

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The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 passed Parliament on 2 December 2022. The legislation is extensive and brings into effect a series of changes and obligations that will affect many workplaces.

In this blog, we will be touching on fixed-term contracts, flexible work arrangements and prohibitions on non-compliant job advertisements.

Fixed-term contracts

Although fixed-term contracts serve the purpose of being employed for a set period of time, it has become evident that it could be giving employees job insecurity if the fixed-term contract continues to be renewed and/or if the employee should have a permanent role.

Now, the reform has been amended so that employers are prohibited from entering into fixed-term employment contracts with employees for a period of longer than two years (in total across all contracts). The prohibition also prevents a fixed term contract being extended or renewed more than once for roles that are substantially the same or similar.

However, some exceptions apply. These include:

  • Casuals, apprentices or trainees and high income workers ($162k pa)
  • Work covering peak periods of demand
  • Where the work is performed by a specialist engaged for a specific and identifiable task
  • Where the modern award or FWA allows for longer fixed term contracts.

Employers will need to provide employees with a Fixed Term Contract Information Statement (to be drafted by the Fair Work Ombudsman) before or as soon as practicable after entering into a fixed term contract.

From 1 January 2023, the maximum penalty for contravening the 2 year limitation is $82,500 for a body corporate and $16,500 for an individual.

If your workplace has existing fixed term contracts in place, it will be important to review the operation of these to ensure compliance with the new laws. 

Note: The changes will commence from 6 December 2023.

Flexible work arrangements

This reform amendment provides stronger access to request and contest flexible working arrangements, and negotiate options that suit both the employer and employee.

If an employer refuses a request for flexible work conditions, the requirements for refusal have been expanded so that employers must discuss requests with the employee and genuinely try and reach agreement prior to refusing an employee’s request.

To refuse a request, the employer must have:

  • Discussed the request with the employee; and
  • Genuinely tried to reach an agreement with the employee about making changes and accomodating the employee’s circumstances; and
  • the employer and employee have been unable to reach agreement; and
  • the refusal is based on reasonable business grounds.

The provisions also expand the circumstances in which an employee may request a flexible working arrangement, for example where they, or a member of their immediate family or household, experiences family or domestic violence.

Note: These changes will come into effect on 6 June 2023.

Prohibitions on non-compliant job advertisements

This change now prohibits employers from advertising jobs at a rate of pay that breaches the Fair Work Act. For piecework (work paid for according to the amount produced), any periodic rate of pay to which the pieceworker is entitled needs to be included.

Note: The changes came into effect on 7 December 2022, and apply to jobs being advertised on or after 7 January 2023

To discuss any of these reforms or amendments with our team, contact us today!

To learn more, visit: https://www.dewr.gov.au/secure-jobs-better-pay