New Workplace reforms – What’s Happening?

In the September blog we discussed the importance of clearly understanding what effects the new workplace laws will have on your business. The first step was to determine the Jurisdiction under which your workplace is governed. The following discussion focuses exclusively on those companies (most of you) who are classified as National System Employers (NSE). For NSEs the workplace is governed by the new Fair Work Act and will result in significant change for most. If your organisation does not fall under this act e.g. partnerships, sole traders or Government Dept’s, it will fall under the relevant state provisions. The Commonwealth however is currently negotiating with the States to acquire these powers as well.
The Fair Work reforms came into effect on the 1st July 2009 with the establishment of Fair Work Australia effectively replacing the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and Fair Pay Commission. The Fair Work Act sets out the minimum terms and conditions of employment for all NSE employees. These are defined in the Fair Work Act which references the National Employment Standard and the Modern Awards both of which are to take effect from the 1st January 2010. The impact of these reforms will be to change employee entitlements, wages, termination of employment, union rights, collective bargaining, employee rights and protections. We are currently in a transition phase with the National Employment standards and Modern Awards coming into effect from the 1st January 2010.
It is important that you have clarity on how these reforms will influence the entire employment lifecycle from recruitment practices, position descriptions, employee contracts, dispute resolution, and performance management to termination. To ensure you are properly protected these reforms must be incorporated in your workplace policies and procedures and made readily available to all staff. The new legislation mandates that the employer must make all employees aware of their rights under the new reforms.
You may want to take a look at the Fairwork Website which provides a lot of relevant material. http://www.fairwork.gov.au/
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