There have been a number of recent changes at the federal government level in Australia that affect employers. We recommend you take the time to find out more about them.
1. Fair Work Bill
Significant changes to industrial relations are on the way and they will affect your business. The Fair Work Bill 2008 will come into operation on 1 July 2009, with full changes to be in place by 1 January 2010. At the same time, an award modernisation process is underway. You’ll find detailed fact sheets at workplace.gov.au
New unfair dismissal laws (from 1 July) are likely to have the most immediate impact on our readers. More information on fair dismissal can be found in the fact sheet provided on our website for your convenience.
In preparation for the changes:
- Check all your documentation (policies, procedures and contracts) is compliant with the National Employment Standards
- Find out which new award(s) will apply to your employees, including award coverage where it may not have applied before
- Review your recruitment process for non-award employees
- Understand the new fair dismissal code and review your performance management and discipline policies for consistency with the code
- Ensure you clearly communicate any policy changes to your staff
2. Fresh Ideas for Work and Family Program
The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, announced the launch of the Fresh Ideas for Work and Family program on 1 March 2009.
This national initiative provides grants of $5000 to $15000 to successful small businesses to implement practices that help employees balance their work and family obligations and improve employee retention and productivity. Information on how to use the grant is available from experts in workplace flexibility, Flexibility at Work.
The program aims to assist small businesses across regional and metropolitan areas. It is designed to support projects that benefit both the employer and employees, demonstrate long-term sustainable outcomes for the business and have the potential for wider application to other businesses. Applications will be accepted from:
- Small businesses in Australia with fewer than 15 employees.
- Not-for-profit and non-government organisations.
- Consortia of small businesses.
- Sole traders and incorporated sole traders that employ between 1 and 14 employees.
Further information on family friendly work arrangements, work-life balance and the program is available at http://www.deewr.gov.au/WorkplaceRelations/FreshIdeas/Pages/default.aspx or call the Workplace Infoline from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday on 1300 363 264 or email FIWF@deewr.gov.au.
3. Federal Budget 2009
The Budget has a number of consequences for employers that you should discuss with your advisers:
- Changes to employee superannuation contributions and salary sacrifice concessions
- Employee share schemes
- Paid parental leave
- Increased deduction for capital expenditure (to 50%) before 30 June 2009
It’s important that you’re aware of these issues in case you need to take action. We can then point you in the right direction to get assistance to make any necessary changes.