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Are you across the employment law changes for FY17/18, as of 1 July?

Newsflash 03 June 2017

It’s a new year in the world of business and a number of important workplace changes have come into effect this week.

Some of the key changes you may need to know about are listed below.  If you would like any further detail or need assistance to make changes to your workplace documents or practises, please contact our Employment, IR and Workplace Health & Safety team.

Increase to minimum wage rates

In accordance with the Fair Work Commission’s 2017 annual wage review decision, the following changes take effect to minimum wages for national system workers from the first full pay period on, or after 1 July 2017:

  • All modern award minimum wage rates will increase by 3.3% - this will require proportionate increases to minimum hourly rates of pay and award-based annualised salaries;
  • The adult national minimum hourly wage rate for permanent employees will increase by $0.59 to $18.29 and the weekly minimum wage will increase from $672.70 to $694.90 (an increase of $22.20 per week).

The casual loading for the majority of employees remains at 25%.

Penalty rates changes

The transition to reduce Sunday penalty rates in modern awards takes effect from 1 July 2017 for workers in the fast food, retail, pharmacy and hospitality sector. This change will  start  with a 5% decrease from the previous Sunday rates ( with other reductions being phased in over 3 to 4 years depending upon the award).

Reduced public holiday penalty rates will come into force immediately for workers covered by the Hospitality Award, Restaurant Award, Retail Award, Fast Food Award and Pharmacy Award.  

Businesses are reminded to check any contractual obligation you may have with your employees before reducing penalty rates.

Changes to high income threshold and maximum compensation  for unfair dismissal applications

The high income threshold for the purposes of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is indexed annually from 1 July, and this year will increase from $138,900 to $142,000. This amount includes the employees’ wages and the pre-agreed value of non-monetary benefits such as the personal use of an employer provided motor vehicle, but does not include commissions, bonuses or overtime an employee might have earned. Employer superannuation guarantee contributions are not included in the calculation of an employee’s remuneration for this purpose.

Consequently the maximum amount the Fair Work Commission can order in compensation for an unfair dismissal claim will increase to $71,000.  

New Fair Work Information Statement

National system employers are required to give each new employee a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement before or as soon as practicable after the person starts employment. The Statement changes with effect from 1 July each year. The Fair Work Ombudsman has yet to release the latest version however it will be available from 1 July 2017 from https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/national-employment-standards/fair-work-information-statement.

Failure to give the Statement, or the current version of it, is a breach of the National Employment Standards, and may attract a financial penalty.

Increases to civil penalties

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), civil penalty provisions relate to single breaches of the National Employment Standards, modern awards or enterprise agreements, general protections of workplace rights and other employee protections, right of entry and industrial action.

The maximum civil penalties will increase as follows:

  • For corporate contraveners – from $54,000 per breach to $63,000;  and
  • For individual contraveners – from $10,800 per breach to $12,600.

These increases will affect all contraventions that occur on or after 1 July 2017.

Depending upon your individual circumstances, your business may not need to take immediate action in response to these workplace changes. If you are unsure what changes you need to make, or you have an employment law query, please contact the TressCox Lawyers Employment, IR & Workplace Safety Team to discuss.


Peta Tumpey, Partner
Sydney

Vanessa James-McPhee, Senior Associate
Brisbane

Keely Horan, Senior Associate
Sydney

Newsflash 03 June 2017
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