New IR laws pass WA Parliament

The Industrial Relations Legislative Amendment Bill 2021 has passed WA Parliament, marking a number of changes to the State’s employment laws that impact on WA businesses.

Whilst the changes, expected to come into force in February or March next year, largely affect employers covered by the State industrial relations system, there are a number of amendments that will impact on all WA businesses, including:

  • introduction of Easter Sunday as a new public holiday; and
  • ability for unions to make electronic recordings when exercising right of entry on safety grounds;

These amendments will have significant impact on WA businesses, with CCIWA’s concerns heavily reflected during parliamentary debate on the Bill.

For employers covered by the State industrial relations systems (generally sole traders and some not-for-profit organisations) the Bill also introduced several new obligations that already apply to businesses covered by the Fair Work Act, including:

  • increased penalties for underpayment of entitlements;
  • option for employees to seek stop bullying / sexual harassment orders;
  • establishing prohibitions on employers taking ‘damaging action’ against employees who make an employment-related inquiry;
  • sham contracting arrangements;
  • employment being advertised at a rate of pay that is less than the applicable minimum wage;
  • cash back arrangements;
  • employees being paid in ways other than money, such as being paid in goods or accommodation;
  • unreasonable deductions from an employee’s pay which are for the benefit of the employer;
  • increased compliance tools for inspectors, including:
    • ability to issue infringement notices;
    • option for enforceable undertakings;
    • ability to issue compliance notice;
  • entitlement to five days unpaid domestic violence leave.

The definition of employee will also be amended to remove the current exemption for domestic workers and persons employed solely on commission/piece rates.

CCIWA Principal Workplace Relations Advocate Paul Moss said most of the amendments for State system employers have been cherry-picked from the Fair Work Act to increase the obligations on employers without any of the improved flexibility.

“We remain concerned that our State industrial relations laws are outdated and that the WA Government should follow the lead of the other states and refer their residual industrial relations powers for the private sector to the Commonwealth,” he said.

”However, for many small businesses there is also the opportunity to alter their business structure to move into the national industrial relations system.”

For advice on IR laws and your workplace contact CCIWA’s Workplace Relations team on 1300 422 492 or via BusinessLawWA@cciwa.com.

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