21 September 2017

Latest News: FairWork Amendment Bill enforces stiff new penalties 

The Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 passed through Parliament last week, has brought about a number of changes that include increasing the maximum penalties for employers who deliberately flaunt the minimum wage and other entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009.
Here’s a summary of the most important changes you need to be aware of:

Increase in Penalties for Serious Contraventions

Under the new laws there will be a tenfold increase in penalties  under a new category of ‘serious contraventions’ of the Fair Work Act. For each such contravention, the maximum penalty will be $630,000 for companies and $126,000 for individuals.

These higher penalties will apply where the contravention:
  • relates a breach of the National Employment Standards, an award, enterprise agreement or an employer’s record keeping obligations, and
was knowingly committed as part of a systematic course of conduct.

Direct Liability of Franchisors & Parent Companies for Underpayments 
Certain franchisors and holding companies will now become responsible for underpayments by their franchisees or subsidiaries where they knew, or reasonably ought to have known, about the contraventions and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them. 

Sharper Focus on Record-keeping
Employers who do not meet record-keeping or payslip obligations and cannot show a reasonable excuse, will need to disprove wage claims in court.
New penalties apply for providing Fair Work inspectors with false or misleading information or records, and new prohibitions for hindering or obstructing them. 

Prohibition on Cash-back arrangements

Prohibitions against unreasonably requiring employees to make payments, commonly known as ‘cashback’ arrangements, have been strengthened and extended to prospective employees. 

Implementation date
The new laws will apply from the day after the Bill receives royal assent, except for the new franchisor and holding company liability, which will start six weeks later. 

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