Minimum Wage Increase July 2019

What’s changing?

The Fair Work Commission has announced an increase to national minimum wages by 3% for the 2019/2020 Financial Year. This increase applies to the National Minimum wage as well as Modern Award minimum wages.

What date do these changes take effect?

The increase to minimum wages will take effect from your employee’s first pay period on or after the 1st of July 2019.

Who do these changes apply to?

The changes will apply to any National System Employer who is covered by the National Minimum wage and/or an applicable national Modern Award (generally PTY LTD companies).

It doesn’t apply to employers who are covered by the state system and state legislation (generally Partnerships and Sole Traders).

National System Employers who are covered by a Registered Agreement will still be subject to the national minimum wages as the base pay rate in the Registered Agreement can’t be less than the base pay rate in the relevant Modern Award or the National Minimum Wage. Where the rate provided for in a Registered Agreement falls below the national minimum wage or any applicable Modern Award minimum wage, then the higher rate will apply to these employees.

What do I need to do?

Employers should review the current pay rates of their existing employees prior to the first pay period in July and compare the current rates with the new rates provided by Fair Work. The new wage rates will normally be available from Fair work on or just before the 1st of July 2019.

If any of your employees are identified as being paid below the new national minimum wage or relevant Award minimum wage then you must ensure their wage rate is increased to, or above, the new minimum rate by their first pay period in July 2019.

If any of your employees are identified as already being paid above the new national minimum wage or relevant Award minimum wage, then no action will be required. You may wish to award these employees with a pay increase at this time based on CPI or on performance, however legally no action is required and these type of pay increases will be discretionary.

Additional Information

The new national minimum wage will be $19.49 per hour, however you may be covered by a Modern Award that provides for a higher minimum wage rate dependent upon your employee’s occupation or industry. Employers must ensure they comply with both the national minimum wage and any applicable Modern Award minimum wages which may provide for a higher rate.

Casual employees must be provided with the relevant minimum wage plus a 25% loading, or as otherwise outlined in the relevant award.

Please note this is general advice provided by the Fair Work Commission. If you would like any specific advice relating to your business and Modern Awards covering your staff, please get in contact with us at All 4 People by emailing janet@all4people.com

Modern Award Changes

What’s changing?

The Fair Work Commission has varied the Termination of Employment clause and Payment of Wages clause in a number of Awards as part of its Modern Award Review. The two changes that may affect staff members employed by you include:

• Employers are now required to pay an employee’s wages and all other entitlements, within 7 days of the end of their employment.

• An employer can now deduct up to 1 week’s wages if an employee over 18 years resigns without giving enough notice as required by law, (i.e. the Notice Periods outlined in the Modern Award). Employers cannot deduct wages from employees under the age of 18 for not giving notice.

 

What date do these changes take effect?

All changes apply from the first full pay period on or after 1 November 2018.

 

Who do these changes apply to?

The new entitlement applies to all employees (including Casual employees) who are covered by an applicable Modern Award which includes the new clauses.

It doesn’t apply to employees who are:

• covered by enterprise and other registered agreements
• covered by a Modern Award that does not include the relevant clauses
• Award free

 

What do I need to do?

Employers should review the Modern Award/s applicable to their staff to determine if the new clauses have been included.

If you have employees who are covered by a Modern Award containing the new clause under Payment of Wages you must ensure they are paid their final pay no later than 7 days after the day on which their employment terminates.

If you have employees who are covered by a Modern Award containing the new clause under Termination of Employment, and they are over 18 year of age, you now have the ability to withhold up to one week of pay where the employee does not provide the required period of notice.

Please note, the required period of notice is the period set out by law in the Modern Award, and not any additional period of notice that may be included in their contract of employment.

You may also wish to update your policy documents to ensure staff are aware of these changes.

 

Additional Information

The Fair Work Commission have indicated that the wording under the following clauses have also been varied:

• consultation about major workplace change
• consultation about changes to rosters or hours of work
• dispute resolution
• individual flexibility arrangements.

If your business is about to commence any major workplace change, i.e. Redundancies, or you are looking to initiate an Individual Flexibility Agreement with any staff member, we recommend accessing the most up to date copy of the Modern Award covering these staff to ensure that the process is in line with current legislation.

Please note this is general advice provided by the Fair Work Commission. If you would like any specific advice relating to Modern Awards covering your staff, or you would like additional assistance, please get in contact with us at All 4 People to conduct a review relating to your business.

Family and Domestic Violence Leave

What’s changing?

The Fair Work Commission have added a new clause to all industry and occupation awards to provide all employees covered by an Award with an entitlement to Family and Domestic Violence Leave which will be an additional form of unpaid leave entitlement.

Employees who are experiencing domestic violence will now be able to access 5 days of unpaid leave each year. The leave can be taken by employees to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence. This includes (but isn’t limited to) taking time to:

• make arrangements for their safety, or the safety of a family member
• attend court hearings
• access police services

Employees are entitled to the full 5 days from the day they start work – they don’t have to build it up over time. The 5 days renews each 12 months but doesn’t accumulate from year to year if it isn’t used.

The leave doesn’t need to be taken all at once and can be taken as single or multiple days.

 

What date do these changes take effect?

From the first full pay period on or after 1 August 2018.

 

Who do these changes apply to?

The new entitlement applies to all employees (including Casual employees) who are covered by an industry or occupation award.

It doesn’t apply to employees who are:

• covered by Enterprise awards
• covered by State reference public sector awards
• covered by enterprise and other registered agreements
• Award and agreement free

 

What do I need to do?

If you have employees who are covered by an Award containing the new leave provision, you must ensure you allow employees to access this leave entitlement.

You may wish to include this provision in your policy documents to ensure staff are aware of what their entitlement is as well as their obligations in accessing this leave.

You must also take reasonably practicable steps to keep any information about an employee’s situation confidential.

 

Additional Information

Family and domestic violence means violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s family member that:

• seeks to coerce or control the employee
• causes them harm or fear.

A family member includes:

• an employee’s:

 spouse or former spouse
 de facto partner or former de facto partner
 child
 parent
 grandparent
 grandchild
 sibling

• an employee’s current or former spouse or de facto partner’s child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling, or
• a person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules

Employees can take the leave if they need to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence and it’s impractical to do so outside their ordinary hours of work.

An employer can ask their employee for evidence that shows the employee took the leave to deal with family and domestic violence. If the employee doesn’t provide the requested evidence, they may not get family and domestic violence leave.

The evidence has to convince a reasonable person that the employee took the leave to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence.

Types of evidence can include:

• documents issued by the police service
• documents issued by a court
• family violence support service documents, or
• a statutory declaration

Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as 1 day or less off work.

Single Touch Payroll

What is Single Touch Payroll?

You might have heard that the Australian government has introduced new Single Touch Payroll legislation, but what does that mean? Essentially the government is seeking to streamline and modernise the reporting process for employee payroll by creating an electronic reporting connection directly with the payroll software systems of employers. This will allow the ATO to see payroll records including wages payments, PAYG, and Superannuation in real time from employers. Shifting to this new system will also reduce the paperwork and reporting burden on employers by allowing the ATO to collect information straight from your payroll software.

When do I need to be ready?

The new system will come into effect from 1st July 2018 for employers with 20 or more employees, and from 1st July 2019 for employers with less than 20 employees. You will need to conduct a headcount of your staff on the 1st of April 2018 to determine when you will need to commence Single Touch Payroll reporting. While all employers must be ready for single touch payroll by July 2019, those with less than 20 employees may still join earlier if they wish.

So what do you need to do to get ready?

If you are already using an electronic payroll software solution, then in most cases you won’t need to do much to get ready as your payroll software provider should be updating their systems to meet the ATO’s requirements for Single Touch Payroll. This should apply to most of the major software providers, however if you are unsure, it is recommended you contact your provider to ensure they will have their systems upgraded in time should you need to report from the 1st of July 2018.

If you are currently running a manual payroll system, such as a paper based system or your own excel spreadsheet for example, then you will need to switch to a payroll software provider. It will not be possible to comply with the ATO’s requirements without a payroll software provider who can facilitate Single Touch Payroll. The good news is that there are a number of providers in the market who can offer different solutions, so it is recommended you do your research on what they can offer and at what price to find the solution that best fits your business.

For all employers it also means that once Single Touch Payroll comes into effect, you will need to ensure you are complying with legislative requirements as the ATO will have much greater visibility of your payroll records. For example, this will mean they will have better visibility should you pay your Superannuation obligations late, so it is recommended that employers put systems in place to make sure Superannuation payments are made on time.

For further information about Single Touch Payroll please see the following information provided by the ATO – https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/about-us/in-detail/strategic-direction/streamlined-reporting-with-single-touch-payroll/?anchor=Employers1

Migration Amendment Bill Receives Royal Assent

In September this year we published a blog post titled – Proposed Legislation Outlaws Payment for Visas. This blog post discussed proposed legislation that was introduced to the House of Representatives for the purpose of introducing fines and imprisonment for employers who accept payment from employees to achieve a migration outcome.

We can confirm that the Migration Amendment (Charging for a Migration Outcome) Bill 2015 has received Royal Assent and is now in place.

The new Act will amend the Migration Act 1958 to establish a criminal and civil penalty regime to make it unlawful for a person to give or receive a benefit in return for a migration outcome in relation to certain skilled work visa programs. It also enables visa cancellation to be considered where the visa holder has engaged in such conduct.

Fines and civil penalties can include a maximum of 2 years imprisonment and fines up to $64,000 for an individual person or up to $324,000 for a body corporate.

For more information on the new Amendment Act please visit – https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2015B00155/Download

All 4 People Migration can provide advice and assistance to ensure that your visa is handled professionally and does not breach any legislation.

Staff Christmas Party Memo

It’s that time of year again when business is starting to wind down and everyone is starting to think about the Christmas break. Before that happens however, most businesses will be first organising the Annual Staff Christmas party. This usually takes shape in the form of a lunch or dinner and will usually involve the consumption of alcohol, but it may also include other activities such as paintballing or a day at the beach with a BBQ.

While more often than not the Christmas party is just a great day out for staff to relax and unwind, sometimes issues can arise. To help avoid potential issues it is recommended that a memo to staff accompanies the party invitation which outlines the expectations and guidelines for the staff Christmas party. Below we have provided some suggestions to consider including in your memo.

1. Conduct

It is worth reminding staff that while they may not be engaging in their normal workplace duties, they are in fact still ‘at work’. This means that all the same policies and procedures that apply in their normal working week still apply at the Xmas party. This includes discrimination and sexual harassment policies and office conduct policies for example. Including this in your staff memo will ensure that Bob in Accounting can’t say that he ‘didn’t know’ that slapping the receptionist on the backside wouldn’t be acceptable behaviour at the Christmas party.

Staff should also be aware that they are still representing the organisation they are working for and therefore need to behave appropriately. This can be particularly applicable where the event is held in a public place such as a restaurant or a bar. A company’s reputation can easily be ruined by the behaviour of just a few people so you need to clearly outline your expectations to all staff before the event.

2. Drugs and Alcohol

A memo should also include some guidelines around drugs and alcohol. Staff should be reminded that the organisations’ drug and alcohol policies still apply, and that anyone found taking illegal substances while attending the Christmas party may be subject to disciplinary action including termination.

Some guidelines around alcohol consumption will also be very important. The memo should advise staff that excessive drinking will not be encouraged and that staff will still be subject to disciplinary action for any actions that breach the organisation’s polices. The memo should also note that the company has the right to cease supplying alcohol to anyone who is found to be drinking excessively and also reserves the right to eject staff from the party if necessary.

In addition to outlining expectations to staff, organisations should also carefully plan events where alcohol will be consumed. This includes ensuring that staff will have food on the day both before and during drinking, and that the alcohol supplied is not excessive. Careful planning will ensure that staff can enjoy the day and a few drinks without an incident occurring.

3. Transport

Transport to and from the Christmas party will also be important, particularly where staff will be consuming alcohol. The memo to staff should include some guidelines and suggestions around transport such as recommended options, i.e. finding a designated driver for the day, sharing a taxi with colleagues, or having a family or friend pick them up. The organisation can also provide public transport information in the memo where applicable to encourage staff to find a safe journey home.

For smaller groups, it might also be worth an organisation considering hiring a bus for the day which limits the driving to and from the event, so that staff only need to travel home from the drop off point. Having staff arrive at the drop off point at the same time as their colleagues means staff are more likely to share taxis or catch a lift with a designated driver. Whatever is decided, the memo should strongly encourage all staff to plan their travel for the day to make sure they arrive home safely.

If the Xmas party will be finishing late into the night, transport will also be important to ensure that staff do not walk home alone from the venue, putting themselves at risk of assault. The memo should encourage all staff not to travel alone where possible.

Summary

Ensuring that staff are safe during the Christmas party is the overarching purpose of putting guidelines in place. Depending on the event you have organised, there may be additional guidelines around safety that you may wish to include in the memo. For example, if your Christmas party will include physical activity such as paintballing or sports on the beach, you may wish to include some rules around physical contact, and details on how to obtain first aid assistance should the need arise.

It is also important for employers to be aware that as the Christmas party is still considered working time, any injuries sustained by their staff will still be subject to workers compensation legislation, so dangerous activities are not recommended.

The purpose of providing a memo to staff is to set the expectations for the day so that staff can fully enjoy the day without the risk of incidents occurring. The staff Christmas party is a way to reward staff for their efforts and hard work throughout the year so the event should be enjoyable for all. When drafting a memo, be sure that the expectations are clearly set and the repercussions are outlined, but ensure that staff are also encouraged to enjoy the day and that the tone of the memo doesn’t put a dampener on the Christmas cheer.

Proposed Legislation Outlaws Payment for Visas

New legislation has been introduced to the House of Representatives to introduce fines and imprisonment for employers who accept payment from employees to achieve a migration outcome.

The Migration Amendment (Charging for a Migration Outcome) Bill 2015 will amend the Migration Act 1958 to establish a criminal and civil penalty regime to make it unlawful for a person to give or receive a benefit in return for a migration outcome in relation to certain skilled work visa programs. It will also enable visa cancellation to be considered where the visa holder has engaged in such conduct.

This means that employers could face substantial fines or even imprisonment for demanding or accepting payment from employees in order to achieve a migration outcome, and visa holders could find their visa cancelled if they are also found to be at fault. This new bill expands on existing legislation whereby employers are in breach of their visa obligations by accepting payment from the employee for the cost of the visa.

For more information on this proposed legislation and to view updates as they occur please visit – http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5533

FLAGGED OCCUPATIONS 2015 – 2016

The Department of Education and Training has released a list of the flagged occupations on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) for the 2015 / 2016 financial year.

Flagged occupations are occupations that are closely monitored for significant changes in labour market conditions. These changes can include things such as a decline in the demand for the occupation, or occupations where it is identified that there are more applicants in the market than available positions.

Does your occupation appear on the Flagged Occupations List for the 2015 / 2016 program year?

Approximately 10% of the following flagged occupations may be removed from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Skilled Occupations List on the 1st of July 2016.

To view the list of flagged occupations please visit the link – https://education.gov.au/flagged-occupations-sol-2015-2016

Contact All 4 People today on (08) 6555 6550 to discuss your visa options prior to any changes being made to the Skilled Occupations List.

Welcome to All 4 People

Welcome to All 4 People’s new and improved website including our company blog.

For all the latest company news and industry updates, please visit our blog page regularly. We will be endeavouring to post useful information for our readers as often as possible, covering news and information from all our industry areas – Human Resources, Migration, and Recruitment.

If you have any suggestions for our website, or suggestions for future blog posts, we would be happy to hear from you. Please email your suggestions or feedback to admin@all4people.com

In addition, should you require any further information in relation to HR Consulting, Migration, or Recruitment, please don’t hesitate to contact our team on the above email address, or by visiting our Contact Us page.

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