Key changes are around:
- Bullying complaints
- Family friendly measures
- Changes to working hours
- Penalty rates
- Union right of entry
Please see New Anti-Bullying Jurisdiction article for details of changes to bullying complaints.
Family friendly measures
The Amendment Act 2013 also introduced some new family friendly initiatives, including:
Flexible work arrangements
More groups of employees now have the right to request flexible work arrangements, including workers over the age of 55, disabled workers, experiencing domestic violence or supporting someone who is.
In addition, the “reasonable grounds” for refusal definition has been limited.
Unpaid parental leave
Both employee parents can now take up to 8 weeks unpaid parental leave at the same time (up from 3 weeks) and does not have to be taken consecutively.
Special maternity leave
Any period of special maternity leave taken prior to the birth is in addition to unpaid maternity leave entitlement.
Transfer to a safe job
Pregnant women can now transfer to a safe job even if they haven’t received the 12 month qualifying period for maternity leave
Changes to hours of work
An employer is required to genuinely consult with employees over changes to hours of work. This includes:
- Explaining the changes to the employee/s and reasons why.
- Listening to the employee’s opinion on the changes.
- Taking into account the input of employee/s before making the changes to hours of work.
The amendment requires the Fair Work Commission to take into account the entitlement to increased remuneration when working overtime, shift work, irregular hours when making decisions around Modern Awards. This means any attempt to reduce such entitlements will be highly unlikely to succeed.
Union right of entry
These changes affect the rights of permit holders, and the changes fall into three categories:
- Locations of meetings with workers – if no agreement is able to be reached then meetings are allowed to be held in the lunch room.
- Accommodation at and transport to remote sites – if no other arrangements are able to be made then the company is responsible for transporting the permit holder to the site and/or accommodating. However, the company is not responsible for the cost of the transport or accommodation provided.
- Fair Work Commission – is able to resolve disputes around union right of entry.