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Matthews Folbigg Lawyers - 2020 Employment Law Annual Legal Update

17-Feb-2020 14:46 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

Welcome to 2020 and what promises to be another exciting year in the legal world!

To help prepare you for 2020 we succinctly detail in this edition current topical legal matters and those we believe are on the horizon for the year ahead. As always, we invite you to contact our Employment & Workplace Law Team using the contact details further below if you require any assistance or further advice regarding the issues raised and action items arising.

The Headlines

Headlining this years annual legal update are issues relating to:

  • updated modern awards commencing from 4 February 2020
  • the upcoming overhaul to ‘annualised salary’ terms in modern awards
  • the requirement that all public and large proprietary companies implement a compliant whistleblower policy by 1 January 2020
  • the ongoing legal dispute over the calculation of personal leave for employees with irregular roster hours
  • the Commonwealth Government’s proposed religious discrimination/freedom legislation

The Takeaway

With some of the changes already operational and others soon to commence, now is the time to be proactive to ensure compliance and reduce the risk of adverse consequences arising such as fines, underpayments and back-pay claims, Ombudsman investigations, civil and criminal prosecutions, negative publicity, disputes with employees and personal liability for individuals involved in the contravention!

MODERN AWARDS – New Awards commencing from 4 February 2020

Since 2014 the Fair Work Commission has been undertaking a ‘four-yearly review’ of all modern awards, during which the Commission has clarified how some modern award clauses operate and made numerous changes.

Now the time has come for the new modern awards to be released in three tranches, the first of which commence in the first full pay period on or after 4 February 2020.  READ MORE>

ANNUALISED SALARIES – Changes to burden employers

The Fair Work Commission has turned its focus to the disparate ‘annualised salary’ provisions found within various modern awards and with the inherent lack of employee wage safeguards being a key driver for change, the Commission has created new rules that govern same.

Presently 21 modern awards will be varied to incorporate a model annualised salary term.  READ MORE>

WHISTLEBLOWER POLICIES – MUST be in place by 1 January 2020

From 1 January 2020, all public and large proprietary companies must have in place a whistleblower policy which meets all mandatory statutory requirements.  READ MORE> 

COURT CASES – Personal leave calculation decision off to the High Court

2020 may see a fundamental shift in how personal leave is accrued and paid following a controversial Federal Court decision relating to the calculation of leave for employees with non-standard rostered hours.  READ MORE>

NEW LAWS - Religious discrimination legislation on track to be introduced in 2020

The Federal Government is on track to introduce religious discrimination legislation in 2020, with a second exposure draft of its Religious Discrimination Bill introduced in parliament in late December 2019.

The Bill adopts the general objects, protections and prohibitions contained in similar Federal anti-discrimination laws such as the Age Discrimination Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act, with some alterations to reflect the distinct nature of ‘religious belief or activity’ as a protected attribute.  READ MORE> 

More Information and Contacts

As this is intended as a brief synopsis only, we would be pleased to discuss with you any questions arising and provide such other advice or assistance as you may require. In that respect, please contact a member of our Employment & Workplace Law Team including:

Stewart Gough E: P: 9806 7483

Peter Doughman E: P: 9806 7412

Best wishes for 2020.

Stewart Gough, Principal

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