Changes to Australian Fair Work Act15 December 2015
With Malcolm Turnbull in charge it remains to be seen whether the Australian Government will significantly change its approach to employment legislation. Australian employment legislation is complex and very inflexible. It remains extremely difficult to make simple individual agreements in Australia due to the under pinning so-called modern awards, as any individual flexibility agreement must still pass the BOOT test (better off overall test). An amendment concerning bargaining processes is currently held up in the Senate. However, a few changes which had been in the pipeline for a while came into effect on 27 November.
- To encourage better conduct and settlement of greenfields negotiations, good faith obligations now also apply to such negotiations.
- On the other hand employers may now apply to Fair Work Australia for approval of single enterprise greenfields agreements if the six month negotiating period has not delivered a settlement.
- However, the Fair Work Commission must first be satisfied the agreement provides for pay and conditions consistent with prevailing industry practice for the work concerned.
- To prevent employees from taking industrial action before bargaining commences, protected industrial action will only apply be granted by the FWC after the employer initiates bargaining and has advised employees of their right to be represented in the bargaining.
Unpaid Parental leave
- While employers may still refuse a request for an extension of parental leave on reasonable business grounds, the employee’s request may not be refused until the employee has been given a reasonable opportunity to discuss the request.