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WHS Obligations – Improvement and Prohibition Notices

Improvement Notices

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW), safety inspectors have a number of powerful tools at their disposal to ensure that employers, workers, and other persons comply with their work health and safety obligations.

A commonly used tool is an “improvement notice”, which is issued to an employer if a safety inspector has a reasonable belief that the employer is contravening or has contravened work health and safety legislation and is likely to do so again.

An improvement notice requires the employer to remedy the contravention or prevent a likely contravention from occurring again, and must include: [...]  READ MORE →

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UPDATE – The New Duty to Act on Psychosocial Risks for NSW Employers

Although employers have always had a duty to eliminate or mitigate health and safety risks in the workplace under work health and safety laws, there was a tendency to treat bullying and other  psychological risks differently to physical risks.

To combat this tendency, in September 2022 the NSW Parliament passed the Work Health and Safety Amendment Regulation 2022 NSW (the Regulation). The Regulation amends and reforms the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 NSW and makes explicit that ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBUs) and employers have a duty to eliminate or minimise psychosocial risks and physical risks in the workplace in the same way. [...]  READ MORE →

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NEW LAWS! Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave


Important changes relating to paid family and domestic violence leave took effect on 1 August 2023 for small business employers, and for all other employers on 1 February 2023.

A small business employer is one that employs less than 15 employees (including most casuals) both within its own enterprise and the enterprise of any ‘associated entities’.

What are the changes?

The changes mean that all employees (including casuals) are entitled to 10 days’ of paid family and domestic violence leave each year.

Unlike annual leave, however, family and domestic violence leave does not accumulate from year to year, and any unused family and domestic violence leave is not paid out on cessation of employment. [...]  READ MORE →

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NEW LAWS! – Recent Changes to Worker Entitlement Protections

The recent Protecting Worker Entitlements reforms introduce several changes affecting superannuation, protections for migrant workers, access to unpaid parental leave, and the circumstances in which an employee can authorise their employer to make permitted deductions from their remuneration.

Superannuation Contributions

Principal to the new reforms is the introduction of a right to superannuation contributions within the National Employment Standards (NES), effective from 1 January 2024.

Although employers were previously obliged to pay contributions under superannuation legislation, the incorporation of superannuation obligations into the NES means that: [...]  READ MORE →

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What every employer MUST know for 1 July 2022

With the commencement of a new financial year, it brings with it important changes and new rates which will apply from 1 July 2022.

NEW! National Minimum Wage (NMW)

With the NMW:

  • this is applicable to employees to whom neither a Modern Award or enterprise agreement applies
  • the NMW increases by 5.2% to become $812.60 per week or $21.38 per hour
  • the increase to the NMW will come into operation on 1 July 2022
  • in addition:
    • (a) special NMW rates apply to employees with disabilities, junior employees, apprentices, and those on training arrangements
    • (b) the minimum casual loading remains unchanged at 25%

    NEW! Modern Award Increases

    • minimum wages to most modern awards increase by the higher of $40 per week or 4.6% (starting on the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2022)
    • delays apply to the minimum wage increases in certain aviation, hospitality and tourism-based modern awards, which will take effect on 1 October 2022
    • absorption of wage increases into over-award payments remains permissible (subject to the terms of the relevant employment agreement and what other amounts are being absorbed into any annualised wage arrangement)
    • increases to the minimum wages of junior workers, apprentices, trainees, piece workers and employees on the supported wage system will occur
    • expense-related allowances in Modern Awards will increase as set out in the Modern Award (eg, by the applicable CPI index figure)
    • annualised salaries will need to be reviewed to ensure they continue to properly absorb/include all relevant minimum Modern Award amounts and that they continue to meet any technical notification and reconciliation requirements applying to annualised wage arrangements in certain Modern Awards

    NEW! Impact on Enterprise Agreements

    With enterprise agreements:

    • they must always meet or exceed the minimum wage of:
      • (a) the relevant Modern Award (ie, the Modern Award that would have applied had the enterprise agreement not been in existence)
      • (b) the NMW (ie, where a Modern Award would not apply even if the enterprise agreement was not in existence)
      thus, pay rates in enterprise agreements may need to be increased (even if the enterprise agreement has its own wage increase regime)

      NEW! The Sting

      Be mindful that wage increases may have flow-on effects such as increasing:

      • the value of leave loading, penalty rates, overtime and superannuation contributions
      • the value of accrued leave entitlements
      • the cost of wage related expenses such as payroll tax and workers compensation premiums

      NEW! High Income Threshold (HIT)

      With the HIT:

      • it increases to $162,000
      • it impacts:
        • (a) who can make a claim for unfair dismissal (for those not covered by a Modern Award or to whom an enterprise agreement does not apply)
        • (b) the maximum amount of compensation payable in an unfair dismissal claim (which increases to $81,000)
        • (c) those on a ‘guarantee of annual earnings’ (a Modern Award does not apply to an employee whenever this guarantee is in place provided it continues to meet the relevant legislative requirements)

        NEW! Redundancy

        The tax-free component of a genuine redundancy payment increases to be:

        • a base amount of $11,951
        • an additional amount of $5,797 for each completed year of service

        NEW! Superannuation Contributions Base

        With superannuation:

        • the maximum superannuation contribution base increases to $60,220 per quarter ($240,880 per annum)
        • an employer is not required to make superannuation contributions on behalf of employees on earnings in excess of that maximum contribution base


        If you have any questions in respect of the above or would like any employment related assistance, please contact a member of our Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team on (02) 9635 7966 or [...]  READ MORE →

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Best Practices for Dismissing or Disciplining Public Sector Employees

Disciplining and dismissing an employee is a fraught but necessary aspect of the employer/employee relationship, and given the potential legal risks arising from dismissals they must always be carefully considered and managed.

Even where a valid reason for dismissal exists (e.g. for poor work performance or serious misconduct), an employer must still take care to afford an employee appropriate procedural fairness, have regard to their legal and industrial obligations, and ensure that any dismissal is not influenced by any discriminatory or other unlawful factors. [...]  READ MORE →

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Religious Exemptions to Covid-19 Vaccinations

Following the ‘Delta’ Covid-19 outbreak in NSW in the second half of 2021, the Government introduced a ‘Delta outbreak’ specific Public Health Order, which prohibited certain forms of travel, and work activities unless the person had received one or more vaccinations for Covid-19.

In response to this Public Health Order, a vocal minority of the population claimed that their rights were being infringed upon by what was effectively a statutory vaccine mandate.

Perhaps buoyed by the ongoing debate surrounding the Federal Government’s religious discrimination bill, many of those in the religious community who were opposed to the vaccination requirements in the Delta outbreak Public Health Order pressed for exemptions based on religious belief. [...]  READ MORE →

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Changes to Casual Employment Requirements

In March 2021, the Federal Government made several amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 in order to address the increasing number of claims and disputes associated with casual employment (such as the significant 2020 decision of Workpac Pty Ltd v Rossato).

These amendments included:

  • express statutory definitions of a ‘casual employee’ and a ‘regular casual employee’;
  • casual conversion provisions that applied to all national system employees (including those not covered by a Modern Award);
  • new restrictions on the ability of employment relationships to implicitly convert from casual to permanent status in the absence of any oral or written agreement;
  • the introduction of a Casual Employment Information Statement and a requirement that employers must provide the Statement to all new casual employees; and
  • the introduction of statutory set-off provisions associated with the payment of casual loading.

Following on from these changes, on 19 July 2021, a full bench of the Fair Work Commission further clarified and confirmed the changes that would be required to the modern awards based upon these statutory amendments.

Amongst other things, the Fair Work Commission confirmed: [...]  READ MORE →

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Updated Sexual Harassment Laws

On 2 September 2021, the Federal Government passed the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act (the Act) 2021.

The Respect at Work Act adopted 6 of the 55 recommendations contained in the Respect@Work Report, and made various technical amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 and the Fair Work 2009. These various amendments were designed to provide greater protections to employees and other individuals against Sexual Harassment, and reflect the increasingly low societal tolerance for such conduct in the workplace. [...]  READ MORE →

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Mandatory Vaccination Policies in the Workplace

2021 was a challenging year for business as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to run rampant throughout Australia. Lockdowns and strict business restrictions led many businesses to close their doors, furlough their employees, or to temporarily cease trading until such time that it was safe to resume doing so.

In response to the perceived lack of guidance and protections from State and Federal Government, employers began introducing mandatory vaccination policies as part of an effort to protect their employees and customers from infection and to ensure compliance with their work health and safety obligations. [...]  READ MORE →

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Mandating Covid-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace

With NSW slowly returning to a degree of normalcy following the recent Covid-19 ‘Delta’ outbreak, it is critical that employers do not become complacent about the ongoing risk of viral infection and continue to take all reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and other persons in the workplace.

The preponderance of advice from medical and health experts is that the best long-term protection against Covid-19 infection (and the more serious forms of health issues arising from such infection) is to be fully vaccinated with an approved Covid-19 vaccine. [...]  READ MORE →

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The JobMaker Scheme

Whilst handing down the Federal Budget in October 2020, the Federal Government introduced another wage subsidy scheme aimed at addressing the increase in unemployment due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and called the JobMaker scheme.

The purpose of the JobMaker scheme is to support and incentivise employers to create new jobs within their business and employ additional people, with eligible employers to receive the following ‘hiring credits’:

  • $200 a week for each eligible employee hired who is aged 16-29 (up to a maximum credit of $10,400)
  • $100 a week for each eligible employee hired who is aged 30-35 (up to a maximum credit of $5,200)

The hiring credit is payable weekly for a period of 12 months following the date on which the employee was hired, provided they are employed by the employer between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021. [...]  READ MORE →