Industrial Relations Update | April 2023
In the previous Member Update, the Federal Government amended the Fair Work Act 2009, resulting in many Industrial Relations amendments. On June 6, 2023, workplace sexual harassment became a concern. This notifies employers to implement policies, methods, and training to comply with this obligation.
After the 6th March 2023 workplace sexual harassment will be covered by Section 3-5A of the Fair Work Act 2009. The Commission can now resolve workplace sexual harassment cases and issue orders to stop it. This means the employer may be vicariously liable. Hence, if an employee or contractor sexually harasses another, the company may be liable.
If work-related, a single act can constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment claims must normally be filed within two years of the alleged harassment. Sexual harassment education in the workplace is crucial since employers and administrators might be vicariously liable for their workers' actions. Training and policies may be needed.
• an order to stop sexual harassment or additional sexual harassment.
• an application for both Orders to halt sexual harassment to resolve a sexual harassment case.
Sexual harassment at work material and an online module are available at www.fwc.gov.au. The Fair Work Ombudsman's website now covers these amendments at New workplace sexual harassment laws.
Take these changes seriously. In a November 2022 Respect at Work study by the Australian Human Rights Commission, one in three workers reported sexual harassment in the prior five years and one in five in the past year.
Women were more likely to be sexually harassed in most industries. In Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, 47% of women were harassed, compared to 17% of men.
So, all employers should educate employees on sexual harassment prevention.
Zombie Employment Contracts
A Zombie Agreement is an enterprise agreement made before the commencement of the Fair Work Act 2009. These agreements continue to apply until they are terminated or varied by an Enterprise Agreement made after 1 January 2010.
Zombie agreements include those agreements made in the State and Federal jurisdictions. All these agreements will automatically terminate on 7 December 2023.
In the period prior to 31 December 2009, several Zombie agreements were made within our Industry. If you have one of these Agreements, and you want to continue it to apply, you must make an application to the Fair Work Commission before 7th December 2023, otherwise the Zombie agreement will terminate, and your employees will then be covered by the Pastoral Award 2020.
Employers who are covered by Zombie agreements are also required to give each employee written notice regarding the changes before 7 June 2023. Failure to notify employees may result in significant financial penalties.
If you wish to check the list published by the Fair Work Commission, go to https://www.fwc.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media/news/list-zombie-agreements-published
Fair Work Ombudsman Audits
The Fair Ombudsman’s Office has reported that it has conducted audits in the Western Australian region. In its media release on 1 March 2023, the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman made surprise inspections of agricultural businesses around Western Australia’s Bunbury region to check workers were paid correctly. About 20 farms and labour companies were assessed by Inspectors that week. Some of these inspections include anonymous complaints including potential underpayment of entitlements of agriculture workers, or because of being employed under the provisions of a visa.
These audits usually include the following:
- time and wage records are kept and compliant with the Award.
- access to the pays for the previous month or two.
- copy of pay slips are provided to employees every pay day.
- that pay slips are compliant with the requirements.
- that the employing entity on the pay slip is the actual employer and has the correct ABN.
- leave records are maintained.
- that superannuation payments are correct and processed on time.
Livestock SA members are entitled to contact MERS for a free half hour consultation, per member per year. Please quote your membership number when calling.
Phone 08 8331 2422 or email email@example.com