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2014 – what’s in store in employment law

It appears that 2014 will be more eventful than 2013 in the employment law and workplace relations area. So what can we expect?

New anti-bullying laws

There is the commencement of the new anti-bullying laws on 1 January 2014. It is likely that a large number of applications will be made to the Fair Work Commission in the first year of the new anti-bullying laws. This area will develop quickly, providing further guidance on the meaning and operation of these laws. Bullying will continue to dominate the employment law and workplace relations landscape in 2014

Privacy

Changes to the Privacy Act 1988 from 12 March 2014, will see the introduction of the Australian Privacy Principles (which will replace the current National Privacy Principles). There are changes regarding privacy policies and notices. There will be further regulation around cross-border data disclosure. The changes largely relate to increased transparency in the management of information.

The use and disclosure of employee information and records will vary from business to business.,

Productivity Commission Review

The current Federal Government intends to have a Productivity Commission Review of the Fair Work Act under the pretext of improving the legislation. It is expected this will commence in or about March 2014. The terms of reference for that review have not yet been released.

While the government has stated that any changes recommended would not be considered until the next election, we do not expect any real amendments to this Act, but they have already broken many promises so far such as education funding, reducing government debt and dealing with climate change.

Minimum Wage Review 2014

The Commission will introduce an early consultation process into the annual Minimum Wage Review, allowing for the hearing of witness evidence in 2014.

Subject to sufficient interest from the parties, (expressions of interest close 6 February 2014), the consultation process will commence in March 2014 and be finalised before the end of May 2014.

Consultation terms in awards

From 1 January 2014, amendments to the Fair Work Act will change the consultation terms in awards and enterprise agreements to provide for consultation in relation to change in rosters or working hours that do not otherwise amount to a "major workplace change".

This will involve the employer to providing the employee with information about any proposed changes to their rosters or working hours. They must provide the employees with the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes, and consider the employees' comments before a decision is made whether to implement the changes.

Unlawful termination claims

From 1 January 2014, the timeframe for making an unlawful termination claim under the Fair Work Act will be reduced from 60 days to 21 days, to make the timeframe consistent with those for unfair dismissal claims and general protections claims involving dismissal.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Last changed: Dec 31 2013 at 4:34 PM

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