Following the success of the Labor Government at the recent 2022 election, we are likely to see many changes to the employment law landscape. Prime Minister Albanese will hold an Employment Summit with business and unions around September 2022 to discuss ways to increase productivity.
Possible changes in employment law under the Labor Government may include:
- introducing changes to help increase skilled immigration, given the current skilled worker shortage in Australia;
- implementing strategies to upskill Australian workers;
- simplifying collective bargaining and agreement making;
- making wage theft a criminal offence;
- introducing ‘same job, same pay’ legislation so that employees and labour hire workers performing the same work are paid the same wage;
- providing greater protections to insecure workers;
- amending the definition of ‘casual employee’ to take into account shift patterns and regularity of work, which may see a casual employee considered part-time or full-time;
- adopting the remaining Respect@Work recommendations not adopted by the previous government, such as imposing a legislative duty on employers to implement reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation;
- implementing legislation to require larger businesses to report gender pay gaps; §prohibiting pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts;
- amending the National Employment Standards (NES) to allow for 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave (the Fair Work Commission recently added this entitlement to modern awards);
- limiting consecutive fixed-term contracts to 24 months;
- requiring the Fair Work Commission to consider gender pay equity and job security as part of its decision-making process;
- increasing minimum wages;
- amending the NES to include superannuation, making it easier to pursue underpayment claims; and
- doing more to protect migrant workers from being underpaid.
These are areas that the incoming Labor Government has flagged as areas it wishes to reform. So, it seems that there may be many changes afoot in the employment law space.
By Kelly Godfrey