Australia has revamped labor laws to favor workers

The country is the latest to afford workers more protections and flexibility.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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On Mondays, we explore what’s happening abroad in the world of HR. Got global HR news? Let us know by responding to this email.

Workers are on a roll. Last week, we covered an amended law in China that would offer more workplace protections for women. A few weeks prior, we reported on legislation that would guarantee the right to remote work in the Czech Republic. Now, Australia is adding to the momentum with its own worker-friendly bill.

What in the world? Tony Burke, Australia’s minister of workplace relations, introduced a new bill in October that aims to improve wages and flexibility, among other aspects of the employee experience, according to Australian news outlet ABC News. The Secure Jobs, Better Pay bill is an updated version of the 2009 Fair Work Act, which set standards and regulations for employment in the country, including employers’ termination practices and employees’ right to request flexible work hours.

We’d need a story the length of a CVS receipt to get into all the specifics, but according to the National Law Review, the bill:

  • Strengthens protections to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Shields job applicants from having to share their salary history with prospective employers.
  • Empowers female employees to raise pay disparities with Australia’s Fair Work Commission.
  • Requires employers to grant flexible work arrangements to workers who are caregivers or over the age of 55.
  • Expands who is covered by multi-employer bargaining, or collective bargaining, where workers within the same industry can bargain together.

Satellite view. Those who oppose the bill believe that it could hurt small businesses and give unions too much power. Others have suggested that Parliament slow down and work with small businesses to make changes that are beneficial for all. But Secure Jobs, Better Pay passed Parliament on December 2 and became law on December 7.

HR pros, the clock is ticking to get up to speed on this complex new legislation.—KP

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HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.