The Latest in Australian HR and Workplace Relations
What a year it’s been in Australia’s HR and employment law world.
A growing workforce of remote and deskless workers has sparked the next generation of modern workforce management to enhance the employee experience. Today, employers are encountering stresses around inflation, pay, award entitlements and scarcity of staff. WorkForce Software has partnered with accredited workplace relations specialists FCB Workplace Law to look further into the most important recent developments in HR and workplace relations in Australia.
At times, the legislative changes and updates can be overwhelming to understand and remain updated. We have taken on the task of reviewing the most recent developments to help you remain current on changes that will impact you and your employees.
For a more comprehensive review, download the Q2-Q3 2022 HR Compliance Navigator Report for your guide to which awards are affected and when.
Paid Family & Domestic Violence Leave
In May 2022, the Fair Work Commission opted to change to family and domestic violence leave, suggesting that all modern awards include ten paid days of family and domestic violence leave (currently five days unpaid). Before implementing the entitlement, the Fair Work Commission sought the Federal Government’s opinion on whether the leave should be included as part of the National Employment Standards before implementing the modern award-based entitlement.
The new ALP Government responded by introducing the Fair Work Amendment (paid family and domestic violence leave) Bill 2022 to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to insert a non-accumulating entitlement to ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave per year.
From February 2023, permanent and casual employees will now be entitled to ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12-month period, and employees will receive payment when on leave at their full rate of pay for the hours they would have worked had they not taken the leave.
The impact of this new legislation is profound. The entitlement to receive ten paid days leave when dealing with family and domestic violence will significantly assist the most vulnerable of employees to continue to earn an income while managing the impacts of family and domestic violence.
The July 2022 National Minimum Wage increase affects your business
The National Minimum Wage and several award minimum wages increased in July 2022. A small group of awards have received deferred implementation dates, with the minimum wage increases coming into force from the first full pay period on or after 1 October 2022.
Adult minimum wage increased by at least 4.6 per cent or $40 per week. As of 1 July 2022, the National Minimum Wage is $21.38 per hour or $812.60 per week, an increase from last year’s $20.33 per hour or $772.60 per week. Junior and apprentice wages increased proportionately in line with the adult minimum wage increases.
There are updates to over a dozen SCHADS Award changes
From the first full pay period after 1 July 2022, changes came into effect under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (SCHADS Award), increasing costs and imposing inflexible rostering obligations on employers.
There have been changes to and updates on minimum engagement periods and payments for casual and part-time employees; broken shifts and shift allowances; client cancellation rights; damaged clothing and laundry allowances; on-call allowances; and 24-hour care.
There are also updates around guaranteed hours for part-time employees, updates on sleepovers, rosters, overtime and more.
Employee receives $435,000 for psychological injury – and makes case law
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ national study of mental health and wellbeing reported that between the period 2020 – 2021, two in five Australians aged 16-85 years old (43.7% or 8.6 million people) had experienced a mental disorder at some point in their life with anxiety being the most common group of mental disorders. With suicide being the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 44, it is no surprise that the Federal Government has committed to invest $2.3 billion in 2021-2022 in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. The plan is based on five key pillars:
- Prevention and early intervention
- Suicide prevention
- Supporting the vulnerable
- Workforce and governance
Research shows that most people feel unsupported when mentally unwell, and less than half of managers in the workplace (around 43%) have a comfortable understanding of mental illness.
The whirlwind of the pandemic and now the ever-increasing costs of living has taken a toll on every individual in some shape or form and therefore, employers should prioritise the mental wellbeing of their employees in order to ensure a safe and productive work environment.
In a recent case, Zagi Kozarov, a former employee within Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecutions sexual offences unit, claimed that, amongst other things, she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive episodes as a result of the nature of her work. That claim was upheld with a massive $435,000 compensation payment ordered by the High Court of Australia in April this year, confirming that employers have a duty of care to their workforce to appropriately identify, manage and eliminate health and safety hazards and risks. This set a precedent for all employers to heed: employees must be protected from psychological injury in the workplace.
With employee experience top of mind for employers, an organisation’s compliance with current laws and standards communicates its commitment to fair HR practices and positive company culture to existing and potential employees. While protecting brand and workplace reputation, a successful compliance check is an investment in employee well-being, giving organisations a competitive edge in recruiting, retaining and developing high-performing workers.
The employment law, industrial relations and human resources spaces are ever evolving, and the second half of 2022 proves no different.
The introduction of paid family and domestic violence leave and the increased importance on employee mental health is a cue for employers to review business policies and procedures to ensure the practices are instilling confidence in employees and helping them understand their rights within the workplace.
Additionally, the increase and changes to the National Minimum Wage and SCHADS Award, respectively, are a timely reminder for employers to ensure modern award, legislative and payroll compliance is being achieved in every aspect of the business.
Heading into the new year, employers must be aware of the already established changes and standards, and the potential need for a shift in business priorities and management practices.
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