Recent Updates

FW Amendment Act 2017 | Protecting Vulnerable Workers

Posted on by Ben Cooper

Significant changes to the Fair Work Act came into full effect on Friday, 27 October 2017, with the commencement of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017.

KEY CHANGES

Franchisor and Holding Company Liability

Responsible franchisors and body corporates will contravene the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act) where an applicable franchisee or subsidiary company contravenes the Act and the franchisor or body corporate knew, or could reasonably have been expected to have known, that the contravention would occur.

A responsible franchisor is defined as a franchisor that has a significant influence or control over a franchisee’s affairs.

Franchisors and body corporates that have undertaken “reasonable steps” to prevent the franchisee’s or subsidiary’s contravention will be taken not to have contravened the Act.

Increased Penalties

A new category of “serious contraventions” has been introduced which deals deliberate and systemic contraventions including:

  • contraventions of modern awards, enterprise agreements, workplace determinations, minimum wage orders, and equal remuneration orders;
  • contravention of employer’s obligations in regards to employee records and payslips;
  • imposing unreasonable requirements on prospective employees to spend or pay amounts; and
  • misrepresenting employment as an independent contracting arrangement or dismissing an employee to engage them as an independent contractor.

The maximum penalty for serious contraventions is $126,000 per contravention by individual and $630,000 for corporations.

Additional Investigative Powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman may obtain an FWO Notice from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which may require a person to give information, produce documents or attend before the Fair Work Ombudsman to answer questions.

New offences have been introduced for failing to comply with an FWO Notice, impeding a Fair Work Inspector from undertaking their duties, providing a Fair Work Inspector with false or misleading information and providing a Fair Work Inspector with false or misleading employee records.

Next steps for Employers

Employers should ensure that they are meeting their obligations under the Act, modern awards and enterprise agreements.

Franchisors and holding companies should consider appropriate mechanisms to ensure that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent contraventions of the Act by franchisees and subsidiary companies.

Livingstones can offer the following support to you:

  • We will be holding a Client Briefing on Tuesday 28 November to discuss the practical application of these changes. Click here for further information and to register.
  • We are able to offer in-house training to franchisees and other interested clients on Understanding your Fair Work Obligations.
  • We can undertake industrial audits of franchisee or subsidiary companies on your behalf.

If you would like any further information, please contact your Livingstones Consultant on +61 7 3833 1200.

Written by Ben Cooper

Ben Cooper

With a background in managing the interface between management, unions and employees on a wide range of industrial issues, Ben has built a sound reputation for delivering practical and workable solutions for his clients. He has strengthened his credentials by providing effective support across a variety of professional and service industries including education, childcare, retail, nursing, hospitality and leisure, real estate and local government.

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