Articles

Ramadan in the workplace: Best practice guide for employers

By Alex Millman and Lindsay Carroll, NRA Legal Yesterday evening, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan commenced, to end on the evening of 12 May 2021. During Ramadan, practicing Muslims will abstain from food or drink, including water, from sunrise to sunset. This can pose some challenges for employers, from the prevalence of “lunch meetings” to work health and safety concerns. In this article, we will outline some means by which employers can manage their businesses to support those partaking in Ramadan and the wider workplace.   Be flexible where possible Since the fasting period during Ramadan lasts from sunrise…

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Life after JobKeeper: Managing staff in the event of lockdown

By Alex Millman and Lindsay Carroll, NRA Legal The end of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program on 28 March 2021 saw with it the end of several legislative provisions which provided employers with crucial flexibilities to respond to an ever-shifting business environment. As the Greater Brisbane area enters another lockdown, the pinch from this sudden loss is becoming more and more apparent. In this article we will explore what mechanisms continue to exist under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) for businesses to manage their pathway forward.   Limitations on employer flexibility At the outset, it ought to…

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What businesses need to know about the new Fair Work amendments

By Calum Woods and Lindsay Carroll, NRA Legal Yesterday, the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2021 was passed by both Houses of Parliament and will shortly enter into law. Yet despite strong support from businesses and equally strong opposition from unions, the final version of the Bill removes much of what appealed to either group with one notable exception. The previously included flexibilities for part-time employment, the criminalisation of ‘wage theft’ at a Federal level, the automatic termination of pre-Fair Work agreements and the ability for the Fair Work Commission to temporarily approve enterprise agreements…

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REMINDER: Upcoming changes to the Retail Award

As 2021 races by at an already alarming rate, NRA Legal takes this opportunity to remind members of several changes to the General Retail Industry Award 2020 (Retail Award) coming up in the first half of the year.   Final change to casual evening penalty rates on 1 March 2021 Further the decision of the Fair Work Commission in October 2018, the penalty rates payable to casual employees after 6:00PM Monday to Friday, and on Saturdays, have been incrementally increasing over the last few years. Although changes to the Saturday penalty rate concluded on 1 March 2020, the evening penalty rate…

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Could there be a resurgence to enterprise bargaining in 2021?

It is an open secret that more and more businesses are breaking the cycle of enterprise bargaining. McDonald’s, Domino’s, and Bunnings after having bargained with their respective workforces over a number of years are all now operating under the modern award system. For the most part, these decisions have been met with relatively little opposition; certainly not enough to reignite negotiations. Commentators on both sides of the political spectrum have declared enterprise bargaining broken and in urgent need of an overhaul. In the most recent 2019-20 financial year, 3,795 enterprise agreement approval applications were lodged with the Fair Work Commission;…

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Odd bedfellows for some: payroll compliance and the salaried employee

Given the extensive regulation that surrounds the minimum entitlements of employees in the Australian industrial relations system, it is still surprising how often businesses fall into the trap of “setting and forgetting” salaries for their staff. annualized salary Recent years have seen several major businesses dragged into the realm of scandal because salaries, however generous, failed to keep up with the entitlements attached to the work actually performed by their employees. Although salaries can be convenient, most notably among employees not regulated by a modern award or enterprise agreement, when applied to employees engaged under one of the aforementioned instruments…

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What Boards need to know about wage compliance

The introduction of the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 into Federal Parliament late last year is likely to change the way that Boards of Directors respond to reports of non-compliance or ‘wage theft’. Because of their concurrent obligations under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act), this cohort has been particularly at risk of regulatory action taken against them in a personal capacity. The introduction of this new legislation may close a perceived ‘safe harbour’ against criminal prosecution where a Director did not personally cause a contravention of occur. This article explores the duties…

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Union right of entry in a post-COVID world

2020 may have been the year the world stood still, but life – and work – continued on for many, albeit changed forever. While laws to help governments respond to the pandemic came thick and fast, many workplace laws remained effectively untouched except for very particular areas, the most obvious changes being the amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) in support of the JobKeeper program and flexibility provisions in modern awards. However, some areas of law remain untouched for now, and applying these laws to the new paradigm will remain a challenge for businesses for some…

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On the record: Understanding the importance of record-keeping compliance

As the conversation around “wage theft” continues in the media and politics, the importance of award compliance remains at the forefront of employers’ minds. Key amongst basic obligations under the law that are sometimes overlooked by employers is record-keeping. A recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court serves as a valuable reminder that failure to fulfil obligations with respect to employee records and pay slips can attract serious consequences for employers, as well as their service providers.   Record-keeping requirements The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) and the Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) (FW Regulations) provide that employers…

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Summary of proposed reforms to the Fair Work Act

The Morrison Government introduced legislation last December proposing sweeping reforms of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). The National Retail Association has long campaigned for and significantly contributed towards the development of many of these reforms including to introduce flexibility into part-time employment, defining casual employment and changes to enterprise bargaining. The National Retail Association played an important role in advocating for these issues in the Attorney-General’s industrial relations working groups which identified these key issues, and had direct input in the drafting of key provisions. NRA Legal has prepared the below summary of key changes proposed by the…

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