The Senate is set to consider the Fair Work Amendendment Bill 2013 on Wednesday 19 June 2013.
The Labor Government was able to pass the Bill, including the more controversial right of entry provisions (see Sch 4 of the Bill), through the House of Representatives (House) on 6 June 2013.
The media had foreshadowed that the Bill may not pass the House, since independents had indicated that they would not allow the Bill to pass without bipartisan support. It was expected that the right of entry provisions would be the sticking point. Those provisions:
• allow a permit holder to meet in the occupier’s meal or break room where the two cannot agree on a location for interviews and discussions, and
• set out the circumstances in which the occupier must provide accommodation and transport arrangements for permit holders to premises in remote locations.
However, a division in the House did not eventuate and the Bill passed successfully with additional amendments.
Importantly, the commencement date for the anti-bullying provisions (see Sch 3) was amended to 1 January 2014 rather than a date to be proclaimed (which was expected to be 1 July 2013).
Other amendments in the third reading of the Bill which were not included in the first and second reading are:
• limit and qualify the operation of the workplace bullying provisions in Sch 3 to the Bill in relation to the Defence Force, Australia’s security agencies and the Australian Federal Police
• clarify the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) ability to conciliate, mediate, express opinions and make recommendations when conducting conferences
• enable the FWC to arbitrate general protections dismissal disputes and unlawful termination disputes, where the parties consent
• deal with procedural matters relating to FWC’s new consent arbitration jurisdiction in relation to general protections dismissal disputes and unlawful termination disputes, including new measures to limit appeals and provide for costs orders in certain circumstances
• align the time limit for making an unlawful termination application (60 days) with the time limit of 21 days that applies for making general protections dismissal and unfair dismissal applications
• allow FWC Members to be concurrently appointed to positions under Commonwealth or territory laws by removing the requirement for such laws to provide for an office to be held by an FWC Member, and
• amend the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Act 2012 (ROA Act) to specify the commencement of Pt 2 of Sch 1 of the ROA Act is 1 January 2014 (while ensuring that relevant disclosures for the original period between 1 July 2013 and 31 December 2013 are still required), provide greater clarity and ensure consistency with the ROA Act amendments in respect of disclosure of remuneration, and make related consequential amendments to the ROA Act.
The Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum 1 states that these additional amendments respond to further recommendations of the Fair Work Act Review Panel (delivered in June 2012). The amendments were developed in consultation with the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council and their technical advisers through the Committee on Industrial Legislation, and State and Territory government officials.
The Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum 1 also states that there is no financial impact for these additional amendments.
The first reading Bill and the consolidated third reading Bill (which includes the amendments to the Bill), as well as the Explanatory and Supplementary Explanatory Memoranda are available at the parliament website.