New Amendments Proposed to Fair Work Act

By Alex Millman, NRA Legal

Yesterday in Parliament, Greens MP Mr Adam Bandt proposed two new amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act).

The first of these, the Fair Work Amendment (Better Work/Life Balance) Bill 2018, proposes to amend the flexible working arrangements provisions of section 65 of the Act in ways which limit the ability of employers to run their businesses efficiently.

The second Bill, the Fair Work Amendment (Tackling Job Insecurity) Bill 2018, proposes to give casual employees and employees on ‘rolling’ fixed-term contracts the legislative right to request to be made a permanent employee.

Both of these Bills propose to empower the Fair Work Commission to make orders dictating how the employer is to operate their business in relation to these matters – either directing an employer to accommodate a request for flexible working arrangements, or to force an employer to give permanent employment to a casual.

This legislation comes on the same day that the Fair Work Commission handed down a draft model clause for inclusion in all modern awards with respect to ‘family friendly working arrangements’, which is intended to supplement the existing provisions of section 65. The Commission has already decided to include a model casual conversion clause in all modern awards, however the exact wording of this clause is still under debate.

Separately, the Government has announced that it will legislate to include five days unpaid domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards, on the same day that the Commission decided to include this entitlement in the modern awards.

We will be providing more details of these items of legislation to our members as it becomes available, and we are eager to receive the thoughts and opinions of our members on this legislation.

The National Retail Association takes an active role in parliamentary consideration of legislation through advocating for our members before parliamentary committees, and your feedback is vital to this.