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Get ready for the employment law changes

The Fair Work Legislation Amendments (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 (Bill) has passed both houses which will amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“Fair Work Act”) and change elements of Australia’s industrial relations system.




In summary the key changes are:


Prohibiting pay secrecy.


Effective immediately


“Pay secrecy” clauses in new employment contracts will be a civil offence.


This means employees will be entitled to discuss with their work colleagues, if they choose to, their remuneration and conditions of their employment.


Anti-discrimination


From December 2022, there are new protected attributes at work:

  • breastfeeding

  • gender identity

  • intersex status.

This means employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against current or future employees because of these attributes from this date.


Job ads


From 7 January 2023, job advertisements (ads) cannot include pay rates that would breach the Fair Work Act, or a fair work instrument (such as an award or enterprise agreement).


This means that job ads cannot include pay rates or workplace conditions that undercut employees’ minimum entitlements.


Prohibiting workplace sexual harassment


From 6 March 2023, the Fair Work Act will prohibit sexual harassment in connection with work.


The Commission will also have greater powers in relation to dealing with workplace sexual harassment.


Flexible work


From 6 June 2023, the right to request flexible working arrangements will also apply to:

  • employees, or a member of their immediate family or household, experiencing family and domestic violence

  • employees who are pregnant.

There will be new Employer obligations before they can refuse a request.


Employers will have to:


  1. discuss the request with the employee

  2. make a genuine effort to find alternative arrangements to accommodate the employee’s circumstances

  3. consider the consequences of refusal for the employee

  4. provide a written response that includes:

    • an explanation of the reasonable business grounds for refusing the request and how these grounds apply to the request

    • other changes the employer is willing to make that would accommodate the employee’s circumstances or that says there aren’t any changes

    • information about referring a dispute to the Fair Work Commission (the Commission).

The Commission will be able to hear and make orders about disputes about flexible working arrangement requests if the parties cannot resolve the dispute in the workplace.


Unpaid parental leave changes


From 6 June 2023 there will be changes to how employers need to respond to requests for extending unpaid parental leave. These new requirements apply to requests for an extension of unpaid parental leave made.


When an employee makes a request to extend their unpaid parental leave, the employer can:

  • agree to the request, or

  • discuss and agree with the employee to a different extension period.

Fixed terms contracts


From 6 December 2023, employers can no longer employ an employee on a fixed term contract where:

  • the term of the contract is greater than two years,

  • the term of the contract and any other period for it can be extended or renewed is greater than two years,

  • the contract provides for an option or right to extend or renew the contract more than once,

There are some limited exceptions to these new provisions such as the employee is engaged in relation to a training arrangement.


Employers will have to give employees they’re engaging on new fixed term contracts a Fixed Term Contract Information Statement.


How can Essential HR help?


As specialists in human resource management and industrial relations we assist Australian businesses navigate their way through the complexities around employing people.


We deliver HR Partnering Services via a hybrid model. With a powerful combination of technology and expertise, we deliver efficiencies, compliance, pragmatic advice and solutions.


To learn more how we can assist your workplace stay up-to-date and compliant by visiting our website at: www.esshr.com.au.



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