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After recent high-profile cases involving alleged underpayments to employees and other criticised employment practices, the Federal Government has introduced new legislation.

NEW! Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017

This new piece of legislation introduced key changes to workplace laws, namely:

Key Reforms – 15 September 2017

In summary, the new laws that commenced on this date:

  • increase penalties for serious contraventions of workplace laws
  • make it unlawful to ask for cashback from employees or prospective employees
  • increase penalties for failing to meet record-keeping and pay-slip requirements
  • place the onus on employers to disprove wage claims where:
  • the record-keeping and pay-slip requirements are not met; and
  • the employer does not have a reasonable excuse for not meeting this requirement
  • give greater powers to the Fair Work Ombudsman to gather evidence in investigations
  • introduce new penalties for giving the Fair Work Ombudsman false or misleading information or hindering or obstructing their investigations

Key Reforms – 27 October 2017

In summary, the new laws commencing on this date:

  • make certain franchisors and holding companies liable if:
    • their franchisees or subsidiaries do not meet workplace law requirements; and
    • they knew or should have known and could have prevented it

The Sting

An employer that fails in their due diligence, namely:

  • investigating which Modern Awards/enterprise agreements apply at their workplace
  • ensuring minimum rates of pay, loadings, allowances and other payments are paid and on time
  • ensuring pay-slips are issued on time and in conformity with workplace law requirements
  • ensuring employee records are fully and accurately maintained

faces an increased risk of:

  • investigation and prosecution
  • loss of goodwill/reputation
  • turnover of staff
  • loss of morale amongst remaining staff

Personal Liability – Directors, Managers and Others

It is also timely to remember that those involved in any contravention such as directors and managers (including payroll and HR staff) can also be held personally liable and prosecuted.

Going Forward

In simple terms, employers must ensure that they meet all of their workplace law requirements.

The starting point is to properly identify and apply all relevant workplace laws and industrial instruments.

More Information

Please call the leading employment lawyers in Parramatta, the Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team on 9635 7966 to speak with one of our employment lawyers.