A substantial part of the controversial Closing Loopholes Bill was passed last week, following a surprise deal made between the Government and independent Senators. The Bill was originally introduced to Parliament on 4 September, intended to close ‘loopholes’ that undermine pay and conditions.
Part 1 was passed on 7 December 2023, containing the following key amendments:
- Criminalising intentional wage and superannuation theft;
- Closing the ‘labour hire loophole’, by providing for ‘same job same pay’ for labour hire workers;
- Amending federal safety legislation to introduce a new criminal offence of industrial manslaughter;
- Introducing new rights for workplace delegates; and
- Introducing a small business wage compliance code by January 2025, to shield smaller employers from the new sanctions.
The most significant changes are those impacting labour hire workers, with providers required to pay a labour hire employee no less than the full rate of pay that is payable to direct employees of the host business, in circumstances where the Fair Work Commission has made an order that specifies the host business, labour hire provider and the labour hire employees. Any such orders will not take effect until at least November 2024, although applications may be made before that date.
Part 1 also includes the following non-contentious amendments:
- Making it easier for emergency services workers to claim for PTSD;
- Strengthening protections from discrimination (including adverse action) in relation to family and domestic violence;
- Protecting redundancy payments for workers for larger businesses that have become ‘small businesses’ that would otherwise be subject to an exemption from redundancy pay obligations; and
- Expanding the functions of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency to include silica.
Part 2 of the Bill will be debated in the Senate early next year, including provisions relating to casual employment, minimum standards for digital platform workers and road transport industry reforms.
Thynne + Macartney will be hosting a client event in the new year to take you through the changes and the impacts on your business
Known for being approachable, practical and measured, Damian believes that the early assessment of claims helps achieve practical and prompt resolutions. He has extensive experience in helping to navigate and manage reputational risk for employers, insurers and their insureds. With nearly 10 years’ experience, Damian has acted as an advisor and litigator on behalf of businesses, individuals and insurers (and their insureds) in the areas of employment, financial lines and professional indemnity.
Damian has experience running matters to hearing as well as in “out of court” alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and has appeared in all levels of the State and Federal Courts, and before the Fair Work Commission and specialised tribunals.