The introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) saw changes to the conditions and entitlements of many Australian workers. But what has been the impact on the employers that hire and manage them?
Out of more than 37,000 applications received by the Fair Work Commission in 2013–14, 40 per cent of these were for unfair dismissal. An additional eight per cent of these were for general protections involving dismissal*. In cases brought before the Courts, the onus of proof was often on the employer to prove that they managed their employees in accordance with the provisions of the Fair Work Act.
Learning Seat has recognised that employers who educate themselves on their obligations under the Fair Work Act are in the best position to protect themselves and their organisation from severe penalties resulting from contraventions of the Act.
The basics: what is the Fair Work Act 2009?
The Fair Work Act 2009 is the main piece of legislation that governs the rights and responsibilities of employees and their employers within Australian workplaces.
So how serious are the penalties in case of breach?
- In a recent case the Federal Circuit Court ordered the franchise owner of two pizza restaurants to pay $335,000 for failing to pay correct minimum pay rates, among other contraventions of the Act. With the correct knowledge, this penalty could have been avoided.
- The Federal Court ordered the Maritime Union of Australia and a labour supplier to pay $800,000 in compensation and penalties for taking unlawful adverse action when they combined to deny employment to a non-union couple.
- Giving teenage employees free and discounted pizzas and soft drink instead of wages cost a pizza franchise operator $335,000 in fines.
- The Federal Circuit Court imposed a penalty of more than $47,000 on an employer and its director for failing to comply with an FWC order to pay $2,200 compensation, plus interest, to an unfairly dismissed employee.
The Fair Work Act 2009 course suite
Learning Seat’s ‘Fair Work Act 2009’ is a suite of three courses designed to provide anyone in your organisation that has HR or people management responsibilities with the tools and knowledge they need to hire and manage staff in accordance with three key areas of the Act:
- National Employment Standards – covering the 10 minimum entitlements available to all employees within the national workplace relations system
- General protections – focusing on how to prevent unlawful adverse action being taken against employees
- Managing poor performance and misconduct – focusing on the unfair dismissal provisions of the Act.
This suite replaces a Fair Work Act course which was an educational piece on how the rights of employees changed after the legislation was introduced. The new Fair Work Act suite is targeted towards people managers and HR professionals who are looking for guidance on specific aspects of the legislation:
- General protections
- Unfair dismissal
- The National Employment Standards,
to help them manage staff more effectively and avoid costly and time-consuming legal proceedings arising from issues related to the Fair Work Act.
For more information about the Fair Work Act courses, go to:
- Fair Work Act 2009 General protections
- Fair Work Act 2009 National Employment Standards
- Fair Work Act 2009 Managing poor performance and misconduct
*Fair Work Commission annual report 2013–14