Proposed Changes to IR Laws

At the recent Jobs and Skills Summit, key industrial relations reforms were canvassed including:

  • to provide for 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave per year;
  • to give the Fair Work Commission (FWC) powers to set wages and conditions for ‘employee-like’ workers;
  • amending the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) to make gender pay equity and job security ‘objects’ of the FW Act and to remove pay secrecy clauses;
  • amending the FW Act definition of casual employment to provide for ‘an objective test’ to prevent an employee being designated a casual in a written contract, if they work regular and predictable hours;
  • to strengthen access to flexible working arrangements; 
  • to make sexual harassment in the workplace unlawful; 
  • to raise the permanent Migration Program ceiling and relax work restrictions on international students; 
  • to allow the FWC to issue template Enterprise Agreements for small to medium-size employers and simplify the Better Off Overall Test; and
  • to allow bargaining for multi-employer agreements across particular industries.

Legislation has already been introduced to amend the National Employment Standards to provide for an entitlement to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave per year. However, some of these proposals are more contentious (such as multi-employer enterprise bargaining) and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations commenced consultation on other changes to the FW Act.

ECA Legal will post updates when amended laws take effect.

Disclaimer: This summary is a guide only and is not legal advice. For further information, call ECA Legal on (08) 6241 6129 or email