canon cameras australia

Posts Tagged ‘Fair Work Australia’

Balance of Fair Work comes into play

Friday, January 8th, 2010

By CCH Senior Writer Belinda Sundaraj

The balance of the Fair Work Act 2009 and the passing of relevant state industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth came into effect on 1 January 2010.

The National Employment Standards (NES) and modern awards have an immediate impact and require compliance. Each state and territory, except for Western Australia, now has one system of workplace relations with many small businesses being covered by the Federal system for the first time.

The NES replace the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard from 1 January 2010 and covers basic minimum entitlements that apply to all national system employees.  These work in conjunction with modern awards and agreements.

Noteworthy changes to the NES include amendments to parental leave and flexible working arrangements. New employees are also to be provided with a Fair Work Information Statement.

Significant changes to parental leave include the employee’s ability to request a second year of parental leave and the sharing of leave between carers. It is possible for parents to share the two year entitlement between them provided that only one parent is on parental leave at a time. An employer can deny the employee’s request for an additional period of parental leave beyond the initial 12 months but the refusal must be in writing and state “reasonable business grounds” for refusing the request.

In terms of the NES, an employee may request flexible working arrangements where the employee is a parent or carer of a child who is under school age or under 18 with a disability. Flexible working arrangements may include a change in hours of work, patterns of work or location.  An employer can deny the employee’s request but must do so in writing and on “reasonable business grounds”.

It is important to note that neither of the abovementioned standards are a civil remedy provision and may not be easily enforced.

Suggestions have been made for an Education and Information Campaign along with a six month moratorium on prosecutions for any small businesses that unintentionally fail to comply with the new workplace requirements. This has not been confirmed by the Rudd Government or the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Have small businesses had sufficient time and notice in which to prepare for Fair Work and the NES? Is a six month moratorium on prosecutions reasonable?

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AFPC resists largesse for low-paid

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

By Chris Taylor, CCH senior writer

The Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) has resisted the temptation to bow out with a show of generosity, leaving the federal minimum wage unchanged at $543.78 a week.

Industry groups and unions took their default polarised positions on the wage freeze and the Federal Government did its best to get a foot in each camp.

While the decision itself and the reaction of the interested parties could hardly be called unexpected, the ensuing debate did raise some interesting points on how to relieve the economic burden amongst low-income earners and who should be paying.

This review was the commission’s fourth and final wage-setting decision before signing off and handing the baton to Fair Work Australia.

Job protection and assisting employment recovery were given as the main reasons for choosing not to increase the federal minimum wage.

Commission chairman Ian Harper said this year’s decision had been a “most difficult one”.

“These are uncertain times for the economy and for the Australian labour market, and in the commission’s view caution is warranted at this time in the setting of minimum wages,” Professor Harper said.

“This is not the time to risk the jobs of low-paid Australians by increasing minimum wages.”

Unions labelled the commission’s final decision as “unfair and discriminatory” and one that shifted the burden of the economic downturn onto the section of the population least able to afford it.

In real terms, the low-paid would lose income until the next wage review and it really ought to be higher income earners tightening their belts, the unions said.

The commission said that employers were entitled to pay higher than minimum wages if they could and that they ought to do so if they had the capacity.

The commission also pointed to the Federal Government’s changes to the tax and transfer system and fiscal stimulus packages as a way of delivering a “significant increase” in disposable income for lowest income households.

Industry groups have also stressed their preference for helping out the low paid via tax cuts, income support and stimulus measures rather than through a minimum wage raise.

However, the unions have countered that these very stimulus measures will now be undermined by the real income losses that the wage freeze will impose on the low-paid.

The Federal Government said the decision was “disappointing” and that it had supported a “considered rise” in the minimum wage, despite economic conditions.

However, the government said it recognised that the decision was made in “the most challenging environment to confront a minimum wage-setting authority in decades”.

So, are any of your organisations taking up the AFPC’s suggestion of voluntary pay rises for the minimum wage earners, Can any organisation afford it?

And what is the best way of relieving economic burden on the poor? Employer-led measures such as wage rises or taxpayer-funded (ultimately) action such as stimulus payments and other support measures? Or something else?


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