Amendments to the Fair Work Act - Part 2

Posted by Luke Mitchell on 19 February 2015

Following on from part 1 of this blog series some further areas that the Bill proposes to address include: 

Unfair Dismissal 

The Bill also proposes to provide the Commission with greater powers to dismiss an Unfair Dismissal Application without holding a conciliation conference.  

Parental Leave 

The Bill proposes that an employer must not refuse a request for an extended period of unpaid parental leave unless the employee has been given a reasonable opportunity to discuss the request.  The issue arises as requests for extensions to unpaid parental leave under the Act are obviously dealt with whilst the employee is absent from the workplace and on the initial period of maternity leave, and accordingly the amendment now requires the employer to ensure that they have given the employee a reasonable opportunity to discuss the change rather than make the decision in the absence and without any consultation or discussion. 

Individual Flexibility Agreements 

The Bill proposes to clarify the “better off overall” test for employers that is relevant for employers and employees when entering into an individual flexibility agreement.  

The Bill also proposes to require a minimum of 13 weeks notice to terminate an individual flexibility agreement which currently only requires 28 days of notice for termination.  

Conclusion 

Many of the changes which are proposed under the Bill seek to clarify areas of uncertainty and practical difficulty which have arisen under the Fair Work Act since it’s inception in 2009.  However the changes appear to continue the moderate line that the coalition have taken in relation to industrial relations law matters.  No doubt many employers were hoping for more substantive changes to the Act to reduce the impact of the current regulatory framework on their businesses.   

If you require any advice or assistance with your employment law needs, contact the specialist team from Dooley & Associates.

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