This article first appeared on page 16 in the August 2023 issue of ProPrint, authored by PVCA’s Charles Watson
Given we have entered a new financial year, it is a good time to consider some of the recent workplace changes which are now in effect. Businesses should consider the following issues as they relate to their employees and take any appropriate action.
National minimum wage and Award rates
From the first full period that commenced on or after 1 July 2023, the national minimum wage increased. That increase has flowed through to modern Award minimum rates and related allowances. The increases to Award minimum rates of pay can be absorbed into an Award-covered employee’s current rate of pay as long as the result leaves their rate of pay at least equal to the increased Award minimum rates.
Businesses who employ Award-covered employees who are paid an annualised salary must ensure the annualised salary remains sufficient to absorb the increased Award-based monetary entitlements and adjust upward if necessary. Additionally, businesses with enterprise agreements or who utilise Individual Flexibility Agreements will need to ensure the base rates of pay in those agreements at least equal the relevant rate in a respective Awards as increased by the decision.
From 1 July 2023, the superannuation guarantee contribution rate increased to 11 per cent, up from 10.5 per cent. For workers who are paid a base rate plus superannuation an additional 0.5 per cent contribution payment will be required to be paid. However, for employees who are paid remuneration inclusive of superannuation (such as those employees on executive service agreements), the overall payment will not change, but they will see a decrease in their take-home pay as 0.5 per cent is allocated across to super contributions.
Government aid Parental Leave scheme
The Paid Parental Leave scheme has changed from 1 July 2023. The changes, which come into effect for parents whose children are born or adopted from 1 July 2023, include an entitlement to 20 weeks’ paid leave, up from the current 18 weeks, with two weeks reserved on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.
Fair Work Information Statement
The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently updated the Fair Work Information Statement. Employers have a requirement to provide every new employee with a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement prior to or upon commencement of employment. Additionally, we remind readers of the specific Casual Employment Information Statement that must be provided to every new casual employee prior to, or upon commencement of, their employment.
Prohibiting pay secrecy
We also remind readers that the Fair Work Act provisions that prohibit pay secrecy clauses in contracts of employment are now in place. From 7 June 2023, employers will contravene the Act, and potentially face civil penalties, if an employment contract is entered into that contains terms that are inconsistent with an employee’s rights to disclose, or not to disclose, their remuneration. Ensure that any pay secrecy clauses that may have been contained in employment contract templates are removed, and any such clauses in existing contracts are considered unenforceable.
Fixed term contracts
Finally, and although the legislative amendment does not commence until December 2023, the use of fixed-term and maximum-term employment contracts will be limited. From 6 December 2023, there will be a prohibition against the use of fixed term contracts which exceed two years for the same role. This includes any renewal and extension of an existing fixed term contract, or consecutive contracts i.e., the total term cannot exceed two years.
There are some limited exceptions to the prohibition, the most notable of which are that the prohibition will not apply to employees above the high-income threshold, under a training arrangement, or the engagement is to cover a temporary absence. However, anti-avoidance provisions have been included in the legislative amendments that seek to prevent employers structuring emploment arrangements in a way to seek to defeat the prohibitions.
Businesses should put mechanisms in place to ensure there are no renewals or consecutive contracts after 6 December 2023 which will cause the total fixed term to exceed two years. Further, from the commencement date employers who enter into a fixed term contract must provide the employee before or upon commencing employment a Fixed Term Contract Information Statement. This statement will be available in the coming months.
It is recommended businesses review and amend any related workplace policies, payroll processes, contracts, and agreements so as to ensure compliance with these recent and incoming amendments.
Charles Watson, General manger – IR, Policy and Governance, Print and Visual Communication Association (PVCA)
This article is of a general nature and guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.
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