The Coalition Government have recently introduced a new bill, Bill 2017, aimed at protecting vulnerable workers. They say that Bill 2017, will “protect vulnerable workers and crack down on unscrupulous bosses who break the law”. There has been greater need for government protection of workers, with recent headlines showing that workers who are not fully aware of their rights and being taken advantage of by their employer.
What will Bill 2017 do?
The Coalition Government claims that Bill 2017 will help protect responsible employers and deter unscrupulous employers by:
- Making it clear employers can’t directly or indirectly request unreasonable payments from their staff.
- Increasing the penalties ten-fold for serious contraventions involving deliberate and systematic underpayment of workers (as opposed to one-off mistakes).
As well as, penalties increases for those who falsify pay records. These penalties will not apply to inadvertent breaches or honest mistakes.
- Making it clear that the head office does have an obligation to know what is happening in their business. This will be done, by making the head office responsible for underpayments where three conditions are met:
The head office has significant influence or control over their franchisee or subsidiary. The head office knew or should reasonably be expected to have known of the underpayment or related breach, and The head office failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the breach from occurring.
In other words, those who are complicit or wilfully blind to underpayments in their network, will be responsible for rectifying those underpayments.
- Strengthening the Fair Work Ombudsman’s powers, so they can more effectively investigate breaches of workplace laws. This will assist in overcoming the culture of fear that often prevents vulnerable workers from coming forward and giving evidence. Furthermore, funding to the FWO’s budget has had an increase by $20 million. This will allow for more staff and hence more investigations, so that the law can be more effectively enforced.
What does this mean for me as an employer or franchisor?
Now more then ever, employers and franchisors have to be aware of their obligations. If you are unsure of your obligations, HR Central’s HR hotline and additional services are your solution.
A HR Central software subscription can provide you with the necessary tools to ensure that your business is compliant with Fair Work. We provide our clients with a full suite of policies and resources to manage your people. In addition, if you have a HR issue, you can speak to one of our HR Specialists. Our knowledgeable team can guide you through any HR issue, with as little impact as possible to your daily operations.
HR Central also offers additional services to cover all of your HR needs like HR Reviews, Recruitment, Performance and Development, Engagement & Retention, Insurance and Workplace Investigation, HR Central have the solution for you.
Moreover, if you would like further clarification and assistance on determining your obligations, please contact HR Central.
If you are a member of the Franchise Council of Australia and facing an HR issue, you can call 13000 FCA HR (1300 032 247) and speak directly to a HR Specialist from HR Central.