Changes to Parental Leave
1 January 2016
Statutory entitlements to parental leave come from the Fair Work Act, National Employment Standards (NES). Unpaid parental leave is available to full-time, part-time and long-term casual employees (including employees in Western Australia whose employer is unincorporated).
Parental leave includes unpaid maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave. Each parent is entitled to be absent from work for separate periods of up to 12 months unpaid parental leave. An employee who takes 12 months of parental leave may request additional leave from their employer for up to 12 months.
Up till the 27 November 2015, an employer could refuse an employee's request to extend parental leave on "reasonable business grounds", giving the employee a written notice of the reasons for refusal within 21 days of the request being made.
From 27 November 2015 employers must to provide the employee requesting an extention to parental leave with a "reasonable opportunity" to discuss that extension prior to any refusal by the employer. The employer must take into account matters raised during the discussion before deciding whether or not to grant the extension.
Although there is no definityon of "reasonable opportunity", giving the employee reasonable opportunity would mean giving the employee sufficient time to allow them to make arrangements to meet with the employer. The meeting can be face-to-face, by phone or by any other means that may be convenient to the employee.
The aim of this change is to allow the employer and the employee to discuss the requret for extension of parental leave with a view to coming to an arrangement that will be suitable for all parties.
Changes from 1 July 2015
1 July 2015
From 1 July 2015
- National Minimum Wage will increase by 2.5% to $656.90 per week or $17.29 per hour
- Pay rates in Modern Awards will increase by 2.5%
- Higher income threshold increases from $133,000 to $136,700
- The filing fee for dismissals, general protections and anti-bullying applications made under the Fair Work Act will increase to $68.60
- Compensation limit for unfair dismissal claims will increase from $66,500 to $68,350
- Superannuation guarantee maximum contribution base (per quarter) will increase from $49,430 to $50,810.
- A new Fair Work Information Statement will be available from the Fair Work Australia website.
From 31 July 2015
- The value of a penalty unit (in legislation) will increase from $170 to $180
Issues for 2015-16 Financial Year
- Decisions on common issues arising from the 4-yearly review of Modern Awards.
- Annual leave: There will be changes to clauses in modern awards covering the cashing out of annual leave, granting annual leave in advance, direction to take annual leave, EFT payment of annual leave. Further information regarding proposed amendments can be obtained from the Fair Work Australia website
- Casual and part-time employment: Discussions regarding minimum period of engagement, payment of casual loading, pattern of work, fixation of hours of work and overtime.
- Family-friendly work arrangements and domestic violence clauses.
- Public holidays.
- Changes to Government Paid Parental Leave scheme: If the Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill 2015 is passed then parents who receive employer-funded paid parental leave may not be entitled to payments under the Government Paid Parental leave scheme. The proposed changes to the Government Paid Parental leave scheme will come into effect from 1 July 2016.
The Office for Employment Relations can provide you with assistance on this and other employment related matters. Please contact Jane Bashiruddin at the Office for Employment Relations on 03 9934 3355
Annual Wage Review 2014-2015 Decision
2 June 2015
The Fair Work Commission’s Expert Panel handed its decision on the annual minimum wage today. The Panel has awarded an increase of 2.5 per cent to the national minimum wage. From 1 July 2015, there will be an increase of $16.00 per week, which will bring the national minimum wage to $656.90 per week, or $17.29 per hour. The hourly rate has been calculated by dividing the weekly rate by 38, on the basis of the 38 hour week for a full-time employee.
“A number of considerations have led us to award a lower increase than that determined in last year’s review decision,” Justice Ross said.
Among these considerations was the reduction in inflation and aggregate wages growth, which Justice Ross referred to as “the most significant change” to occur during the past year.
The minimum wages in Modern Awards will also be increased by 2.5 per cent. Weekly wages will be rounded to the nearest 10 cents. This increase will also come into effect from 1 July 2015.
The full decision can be obtained from the Annual Wage Review website:
If your workers are paid according to a Modern Award, please check the relevant award for changes to pay rates.
What’s New in the 2014-2015 Financial Year?
There are a number of changes related to employment which came into effect from 1 July 2014. These are as follows:
Minimum wage increase
As a result of the Fair Work Commissions Annual Wage Review, the national minimum wage has been increased by $18.70 to $640.90 a week or $16.87 per hour. No adult employee should be paid below the national minimum wage. If you employ anyone on the national minimum wage, you must apply the increase in wage from the first full pay period starting on or after July 1, 2014.
Increase to award wages
The Fair Work Commission has awarded Australia’s award-reliant workers a 3% increase in wages. If you have employees who are paid award wages, please check their pay rates in the relevant award to ensure that they are being paid correctly. You must apply the increase in wage from the first full pay period starting on or after July 1, 2014.
Phasing-in of wage rates in modern awards
When Modern Awards were introduced in 2010, they contained transitional provisions which allowed employers to phase-in wage rates over four years to allow for a gradual transition from multiple state-based rates to one Federal modern award. The award wage rates were to be phased in over a four year period. This phasing-in period is now over and your award reliant workers should all be on award wages.
High income threshold for unfair dismissal
Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), certain employees who receive a high income do not have access to the unfair dismissal provisions in that act. The high-income threshold has been increased to $133,000 per year. The income of $133,000 includes salary and other benefits.
This means that any employees who earn more than $133,000 a year, who are not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement, are unable to lodge an unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission.
Employers should ensure that they have accurate records of salary earned and benefits provided to each worker. Employers should implement procedures which give guidance on how to manage underperformance and how to take disciplinary action when required. If considering a dismissal, employers should seek HR advice.
Restructure, redundancies and the tax free threshold
If you are considering a restructure which may mean that you need to make some positions redundant, you need to know that the tax free threshold that applies to a genuine redundancy payment will increase from July 1, 2014. The base limit has now risen to $9,514.00 (base limit) and the limit per year of service has increased to $4,758 (service amount).