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On 14 December 2023, the Fair Work Legislation (Closing Loopholes) Act 2023 officially received Royal Assent by the Commonwealth of Australia. The amendment to the Act has introduced new powers to the Fair Work Commission, and new compliancy standards for employers.

The new changes to the Act are being implemented over an 18 month period, in the following order:

From 15th December 2023
The Fair Work Commission will have the power to make the following powers related to general protections:
– To protect employees from discrimination arising from individuals being subject to, or having faced family or domestic violence; and
– A provision that will allow workplace delegates’ rights, which are set out in section 350(C) of the Fair Work Act 2009, to be protected when the delegate exercises a workplace right. This means employers are not allowed to refuse dealing with a delegate, provide misleading or false representations to a delegate, or prevent the delegate from exercising their rights.

There are new protections for those who work in certain small businesses, including:
– Those who are made redundant are now entitled to redundancy payments, even if the business was initially protected by sections 119 and 121 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

Finally, there are new rules regulating conciliation conferences that deal with protected action ballot orders, namely:
– Parties must adhere to the new section 409(6A), which states that neither party to the conference can contravene orders of conciliation made under section 448 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

From 1st July 2024
There will be new determinations that vary modern employment awards, enterprise agreements and workplace determinations so that they include a delegates’ rights term. This will apply to enterprise agreements made on or after 1 July 2024. It supports the Government’s aim to bring delegate’s rights up to the same standard as employees.

From 1st November 2024
The commencement of regulations of labour hire arrangement orders will commence operation under the Fair Work Commission. This gives the Fair Work Commission the power to make labour hire arrangement orders when necessary.

From 1st January 2025
There will be provisions put in place that will give the Commission the power to hear complaints of wage theft by employees.

What are Your Next Steps?
The Australian Government has introduced these changes to update how businesses engage with workers more broadly. For employers, it is important that the changes are understood and implemented as far as they are necessary. Our Litigation & Dispute Resolution team can provide further guidance in how the amendments apply to both employers and employees.

We acknowledge the assistance of Madeline Webster in the preparation of this article.