Upcoming Changes to Multiple State Employment Laws in Western Australia

Feb 22nd, 2022

In late 2021, on December 16, the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 was passed.

Not including the introduction of Easter Sunday as a public holiday, which has already taken effect, the changes stemming from this bill will commence in early 2022, and will impact a multitude of state legislation. It will amend the:

  • Industrial Relations Act 1979
  • Long Service Leave Act 1958
  • Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993
  • Public and Bank Holidays Act 1979
This article will outline some of the changes made to these Acts, but further information on all can be found at Commerce WA.

Amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1979

The amendment allows the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC) to vary the scope of private sector awards to provide broader coverage in an industry or occupation.

It also expands employment record keeping requirements and requires employers to issue pay slips to their employees.

A stop bullying and harassment jurisdiction has been established for the WAIRC, in order to give workers a quick and inexpensive route to address bullying and sexual harassment.

In a similar area, greater employee protections are being implemented. A prohibition has been placed on:
  • Employers taking “damaging action” against employees for making an employment related enquiry
  • Employers advertising a rate of pay below the legal minimum
  • Employers compelling an employee to accept goods, services, accommodation or other (payment in kind) rather than money as part of their pay
  • Employers unreasonably requiring employees to pay back their wages to the employer (i.e., a cashback arrangement)
  • Sham contracting
  • Terms in a contract that permit the deduction of money for the benefit of the employer or a party unrelated to the employee
It also provides greater power for industrial inspectors to issue infringement notices under certain circumstances, and it strengthens enforcement mechanisms and increases penalties for contravening an industrial instrument. Furthermore, the burden of proof will be on an employer to disprove allegations in the event they are accused of failing to keep the appropriate employment records.

Amendments to the Long Service Leave Act 1958

Introducing numerous amendments for flexibility purposes when an employee wants to take long service leave. It can now be taken for as little as one day, and it can be taken at double pay (8 weeks of long service leave paid over 4 weeks at double pay), or half pay (e.g., take 8 weeks long service leave over 16 weeks at half pay). Long service leave can now be cashed out.

It also introduced new “transfer of business” provisions, and reinforced penalties for contraventions of the act, or failing to keep the required employment records.  

Amendments to the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993

The definition of employee now includes people who are paid wholly by commission, percentage reward, or piece rates. Five days of unpaid family domestic violence leave per year will be available, and removed the cap on the number of hours of leave that can be taken for caring purposes in one year.  
 
Amendments to the Public and Bank Holidays Act 1979

Easter Sunday has now been made a public holiday in Western Australia as of February 12, 2022.

‚ÄčThe changes to these Acts, barring the Easter Sunday public holiday which is already in effect, will occur in early 2022. 

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