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  • HR Heartbeat: Federal budget OTW, ER changes are lapping the FWC, and...

HR Heartbeat: Federal budget OTW, ER changes are lapping the FWC, and...

An update on everything you need to know from the world of HR: from the update on the impending new budget to a record-breaking court-ordered penalty.

First published on Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Last updated on Friday, May 10, 2024

6 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Everything you need to know about the latest trends impacting employers all over Australia. Keep up to date with the HR Heartbeat.

Let’s get into the headlines.

Federal budget OTW

On May 14, the Government’s federal budget will be handed down. So, let’s go over some of the areas the budget covers, and what changes could be coming their way.

  • A Future Drought Fund will get a boost of almost $520 million to help farmers and regional communities prepare themselves for dry spells. This is part of the government’s efforts to create more climate resilience.
  • The 20 weeks of government-funded parental leave will get paid superannuation from July next year. Parents to babies born on or after 1 July, 2025 are set to receive 12% superannuation.
  • To support closing the national skills gap and increase the supply of homes, over $90 million is set to be spent to increase the number of skilled workers in the construction and housing sectors.
  • On July 1, the changes to the stage three tax cuts will come into effect. Under these changes: tax cuts will increase for earners on and under $90,000, while those earning $160,000 will have their tax cut reduced.
  • You can also expect some business tax incentives with an update to the rules built to encourage foreign capital coming into play. Although, according to Dr Chalmers, an across-the-board company tax cut is off the table.

Time will tell what changes actually take place, so come back for more updates on how these changes will affect your business.

Employment relations changes are lapping the FWC

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently updated its superannuation rules in 147 awards to match current superannuation requirements.

These changes include the new entitlement to superannuation contributions under the National Employment Standards. They came into effect on 1 January 2024 and were implemented by the Commission starting on 9 April 2024.

What does this mean for employers? Nothing really, this is largely an administrative change. But it does go to show that the pace of employment relations changes taking place is so rapid, that not even the Fair Work Commission can keep up.

To make sure you’re keeping up with employment law updates, get help from our employment relations advisers. They’re available 24/7 to answer all your compliance questions and help you stay on top of ever-evolving laws whenever you need them. Not a BrightAdvice customer yet? See how you can become one here.

Can’t take leave from compliance

An electrical contracting company is facing the wrath of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) after failing to comply with Compliance Notices.

The regulator (the FWO, in this case) stepped in in response to a request for assistance from one of the employees of the business, who was employed full-time between June 2015 to March 2022.

A Compliance Notice was given to the business after a Fair Work Inspector investigated the matter and formed a belief that the worker wasn’t paid his accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements at the end of his employment.

The notice required the business to calculate and back-pay the entitlements—allegedly adding up to more than $14,000—it owed the former employee by April 2023.

However, the payment was only fully completed almost a year past this deadline.

In response, the FWO is seeking a court penalty that could see the business paying up to $41,250 in penalties.

As an employer making sure you’re paying workers their full entitlements at the right time is your legal responsibility. But that doesn’t mean it’s always straightforward.

Using a reliable HR software can make it easier, by helping you stay on top of employees’ accrued leave balances and generating custom payroll reports seamlessly.

In the top two!

This business has unfortunately found itself facing the second-highest amount in penalties that the Fair Work Ombudsman has ever obtained.

The court-ordered penalties amounted to $4 million against the former operators of three, well-known Taiwanese restaurants. They were found guilty of intentionally underpaying migrant workers and falsifying records.

Maximum applicable penalties were increased tenfold as a result of multiple violations of the Fair Work Act committed knowingly and repeatedly by the business.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Anna Booth, said, “Their actions resulted in vulnerable migrant workers being underpaid hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

While the court called the restaurants’ conduct, “a calculated scheme to rob employees of their hard-earned wages.”

As enforcement steps up, make sure your policies, processes, and actions are up to standard to avoid earning a place on the top penalties list!

That wraps up this edition of HR Heartbeat. Stay tuned for more headlines and all the latest updates that will keep you in the know with all the major employment changes coming your way.

If you’ve got questions about the top HR headlines from this week, ask Bright BrAInbox:

What are the changes to migrant worker protections as a result of the Protecting Worker Entitlement amendments to the Fair Work Act?

Breaches of the Migration Act 1958 do not affect the validity of employment contracts or contracts for services for the purposes of the Fair Work Act. This means migrant workers will be entitled to the protections of the Fair Work Act, (i.e., claims unfair dismissal or general protection) even where the individual may be in breach of their visa conditions.

Do I need to pay out any accrued leave after an employee resigns?

Yes, employees are entitled to receive any accrued untaken annual leave in their final pay upon leaving the business.

What are the changes to the National Employment Standards as a result of the Protecting Worker Entitlement amendments to the Fair Work Act?

Superannuation contributions are now an entitlement under the National Employment Standards (NES), meaning employers who have not made appropriate superannuation contributions to an employee's fund may be subject to civil penalties and other court orders, including compensation to the affected employee, for contraventions of the NES.

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