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What do the ‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay’ reforms mean?

What do the ‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay’ reforms mean?

The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 passed Parliament on 2 December 2020. The legislation is extensive and brings into effect a series of changes and obligations that will impact on many workplaces.

The Bill also addresses many of the complexities of the enterprise bargaining process by streamlining the initiation and approval process. For example, to initiate bargaining to replace an existing single-employer agreement, unions and representatives no longer need a majority work determination and instead can make the request to initiate bargaining in writing to the employer.

Fact sheets on key elements of the ‘Secure Jobs, Better Pay’ legislation will be available on the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations website. Please seek advice from a professional industrial relations specialist if your business is impacted.

Fixed term contracts limited to 2 years

Employers are prohibited from entering into fixed-term employment contracts with employees for a period of longer than two years (in total across all contracts). The prohibition also prevents a fixed term contract being extended or renewed more than once for roles that are substantially the same or similar. Some exclusions exist such as for casuals, apprentices or trainees, high income workers ($162k pa), work covering peak periods of demand, where the work is performed by a specialist engaged for a specific and identifiable task, or where the modern award or FWA allows for longer fixed term contracts.

Employers will need to provide employees with a Fixed Term Contract Information Statement (to be drafted by the Fair Work Ombudsman) before or as soon as practicable after entering into a fixed term contract.

From 1 January 2023, the maximum penalty for contravening the 2 year limitation is $82,500 for a body corporate and $16,500 for an individual.

If your workplace has existing fixed term contracts in place, it will be important to review the operation of these to ensure compliance with the new laws.

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