Workplace Issues for the new Financial Year

The new financial year has brought the following changes to Workplace laws which all employers need to be aware of and, where necessary, put into action.

Minimum pay rates

National Minimum Wage (before statutory superannuation) is now $694.90 or $18.29 per hour.

Minimum wages are increased by 3.33% for Modern Award covered employees.

The default casual loading remains at 25%.

High Income Threshold

The High Income Threshold for unfair dismissal claims has increased to $142,000 (before statutory superannuation).

Award and enterprise agreement free employees who earn over the High Income Threshold are not eligible to make a claim for unfair dismissal.

Statutory Superannuation - Maximum Contribution Base

The earnings base upon which statutory superannuation contributions are calculated is subject to a maximum amount known as the Maximum Contribution Base which is $52,760 per quarter or $211,040 per annum.

The statutory superannuation contribution remains at 9.5%.

Tax free threshold for 'genuine redundancy' payments

The first $10,155 of a genuine redundancy payment is tax free and $5,078 is tax free for each completed year of service.

Civil Penalties under the Fair Work Act

These penalties apply to single breaches of the civil penalty provisions for:

  • compliance with the National Employment Standards, modern awards and enterprise agreements;
  • protection of workplace rights and other general protections;
  • issues associated with right of entry, and
  • protected and unprotected industrial action.

Each penalty unit has increased from $180 to $210.

Maximum penalty for corporations increases to $63,000.

Maximum penalty for an individual increases to $12,600.

The increases will only affect breaches that occur on or after 1 July 2017.

Casual conversion clauses for Modern Awards

On 5 July 2017 the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission ( FWC ) decided that Modern Awards should contain a provision for casual employees to elect to convert to full - time or part - time employment, subject to specified criteria and restrictions.

Under the proposed model casual conversion clause:

  • to be eligible, casual employees must have worked, over a period of 12 calendar months, a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis which, without sig nificant adjustment, could continue to be performed in accordance with the full - time or part - time provisions of the relevant Award.
  • Employers must provide all casual employees (whether they become eligible for conversion or not) with a copy of the casual conversion clause within the first 12 months of their employment.
  • An employer may refuse a conversion if it would require a significant adjustment to the casual employees’ hours of work to accommodate them in permanent employment in accordance with the term s of the applicable modern award, or it is known or reasonably foreseeable that the casual employee's position will cease to exist, or the employee's hours of work will significantly change or be reduced within the next 12 months, or on other reasonable gr ounds based on facts which are known or reasonably foreseeable.

The FWC has called for submissions from interested parties about the terms of the proposed clause by 2 August 2017.

We will provide you with a further update when the FWC hands down its decision.

In the meantime you should consider:

  • If any of your current casual employees would like permanent employment?
  • How your business would be affected if even a small number of your casual employees have the right to convert to permanent employment?
  • Would y ou have 'reasonable grounds' to refuse a casual employee's conversion request?

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Josh Abbott

Josh Abbott