Month in Review | March 2022

In the News

  • Pay secrecy is still common in Australian workplaces. Some examples of workplaces with contract clauses are the big four banks. One of the flow on effects of these clauses is a decrease in wages, especially for women.
  • The Morrison Government 2022-23 Budget proposes changes to the NES. The changes include boosting redundancy pay outs for women by changing the calculation to reflect the average working hours over their employment. It has also proposed changes to the paid parental leave entitlements and unpaid parental leave.
  • The Morrison Government budget announced a temporary tax break for businesses that invest in employee training and skills development. For every $100 spent on employee training, businesses will get a $120 tax deduction for up to $100,000 spent on the investments. To be eligible, the training must be provided by external providers registered in Australia. Further investment in apprenticeships was also announced. This would provide $5,000 to new apprentices and $15,000 in wage subsidies for businesses.
  • The 2019 inquiry into underpayments has made 19 recommendations. Key recommendations are to amend the FW Act to make underpayment unlawful and increase penalties for wage theft. A dissenting report prepared by Government senators on the committee has been tabled. The dissenting report’s view is that the majority has not considered to a sufficient level the positive impact of measures introduced by the Government to support employee’s rights. 

In the Courts

  • Commissioner Sarah McKinnon has dismissed a recusal application of a hotel quarantine employee who accused her of conspiring with the Victorian Department of Health. The employee also alleges that Commissioner McKinnon accepted a bribe from the Department to reject the employee’s general protections claim. Commission McKinnon has warned the employee that they may have committed a criminal offence under s 674 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) for the accusations.
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $182,596 in underpayments for 214 employees of the franchise Sandwich Chefs. The underpayments were for employees in Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Queensland. Failures included not paying minimum hourly rates, weekend penalty rates and failing to keep employee records.
  • The Fair Work Commission has denied a worker, who was unfairly dismissed after making an enquiry about a workplace right, compensation beyond 2 weeks’ notice, due to his behaviour. The worker had threatened to kill his employer for failing to pay his superannuation.