In The News

Thu 16 May 2019

Employment Changes Impact All Businesses


Human Resources and Career Advice
2018 was a record year for employment changes and as we head toward another financial year, it's important to ensure that all businesses are both aware of and have a plan for introducing these changes.

Failure to do the compliance across employment standards can significantly impact a business and its owners through possible prosecution and/or penalties.  

As we near the end of another financial year, it’s timely to look back at some key employment changes introduced in 2018 since many changes will impact all businesses.  

Single Touch Payroll (STP) 

STP reporting allows employers to report their employees’ salaries and wages, PAYG withholding and superannuation information to the ATO from their payroll system each time they pay their employees. 

Employers with 19 or less employees are now required to start reporting through STP from 1 July 2019. Employers with 20 or more employees have been using STP reporting since 1 July 2018 and close to 70,000 Australian employers have already been using this reporting method successfully.This is an important change for employers that will deliver benefits for both the employer and employee, streamline payroll processes and provide a higher degree of transparency around superannuation entitlements. Many small businesses will need to adjust to this change and the ATO will allow small employers to start reporting anytime from 1 July to 30 September 2019. 

Family & Domestic Violence Leave  

Family and domestic violence is violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by a close relative of an employee that seeks to coerce or control the employee and causes the employee harm or to be fearful. 

What does it mean for businessesThis entitlement is now included in the National Employment Standards and is one of the 10 minimum employment standards for all Australian employees. Employees will be entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year. The new entitlement applies to all employees (including casual employees).  

  Right to request Casual Conversion 

On 9 August the Fair Work Commission indicated that a revised provision was to be introduced into 85 modern awards with effect from 1 October 2018 – the “Right to request Casual Conversion”.  

What does this mean? The casual conversion provision essentially provides that a ‘regular casual employee’ (refer to Award for definition) may request in writing that their employment be converted to full-time of part-time employment and an employer may only refuse a request for conversion on reasonable grounds (as set out in the Award provision). 

Employers must provide all casual employees with a copy of the casual conversion provision as it appears within the relevant Modern Award within the first 12 months of employment or, if already employed as at 1 October 2018, by 1 January 2019 to reduce any risk of prosecution and penalties. The casual conversion provisions may be applicable to some (or many) of your casual employees and may mean that at least some employees may request to convert to permanent employment. Employers should adhere to the requirements for granting or refusing requests and ensure that documentation of the process is clear and transparent. 

Retail Award – Penalty Rate Changes 

Effective 1 November 2018, more changes were made to penalty rates in the Retail Award to the following: 

  • Saturday rate for casuals 
  • Weekday evening penalty rate for casuals 
  • Sunday shiftwork rate for all employees. 

Change to Long Service Leave legislation (Victoria) 

The new Long Service Leave Act 2018 commenced operation on 1 November 2018 and covers most Victorian employees. In summary the following will apply: employees are entitled to take long service leave after a minimum of 7 years continuous employment.  

(For full details on applying these changes in your workplace you can access a comprehensive guide and Fact Sheets at: business.vic.gov.au/longserviceleave or call 1800 287 287 for a copy). 

Flexible working arrangements – new rules  

From 1 December 2018, new rules were included in modern awards relating to requests for flexible work arrangements. Before responding to a request from an eligible employee, the new rule states that an employer must first discuss the request with the employee to try to reach an agreement about any change to their working arrangement. Requests can only be refused on reasonable business grounds. If employers refuse a request, they need to provide the employee with a written response. 

Businesses need to be aware of these changes and how they impact both the business and their employees. We encourage businesses to have an overall business policy and framework for incorporating these changes to minimise the risk of non-compliance. This should also be an opportunity to streamline employment practices and create greater efficiencies through forward planning and stronger people management policies and process. 


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