More Fair Work Act changes come into force 1 January – Need for Management Liability.

In October 2012, the Federal Government announced changes to the Fair Work Act. Many of these changes come into law from New Year’s Day 2013, which is now less than 2 weeks away.

To my mind the main change is the amendment to the timeframe for applicants to lodge unfair dismissal claims relating to termination of employment to 21 days. The new uniform time limit is seen as an improvement by most employers who are currently faced with periods ranging from 14 to 60 days in which to lodge a claim.

Other changes, all of which have come from recommendations made by the Fair Work Act Review panel include:

  • Changes to Fair Work Australia, including changing its name to the Fair Work Commission and increasing the powers of the President.
  • Increased scope for seeking cost orders where an applicant or an applicant’s representative pursues an unfair dismissal claim without merit.
  • Changes to enterprise workplace agreements processes and content.
  • Changes to the process of applying to vary awards.
  • The establishment of an ‘Expert Panel’ to deal with minimum wage decisions and default superannuation funds in modern awards.

Further changes amending the provisions of the Act concerning default superannuation fund terms in modern awards will also take effect but not until 1 January 2014.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said of the changes: “We accept the proposition that we need to provide absolute certainty for small and medium-sized enterprises so that claims which are without merit, if they continue to be pursued, can either be dismissed or alternatively the person making the claim…that they should carry the risk of paying the costs….”

While many small and medium business owners will applaud the changes, the fact is that claims by employees are on the rise as are other claims against company directors and the company itself. For this reason serious thought should be given to taking out Management Liability insurance. To learn more about this important protection, please speak with your insurance broker. Having this cover in place has proven to be of great help to many business large and small.

Leave a Reply