On Friday, 28 June the Fair Work Act Amendment Bill 2013 came into effect.
Some of the more significant changes include:
From 1 July 2013
The right to request flexible work arrangements was extended to include a wider range of employees. Now it is possible for carers, people over the age of 55, people with disabilities, people experiencing domestic violence or caring for a family member experience domestic violence and parents or guardians of school-aged children are able to make flexible work requests.
There is no conclusive list outlining what might constitute a “reasonable business ground” for refusing a flexible work request.
Pregnant women who have completed less than 12 months service with their employer can now transfer to a safe job if they are unable to continue in their current role for safety reasons. If there is no available safe job there is now “unpaid no safe job leave”.
Couples can now take up to eight weeks of parental leave at the same time and this leave can be taken in separate blocks.
Employees can take special maternity leave without decreasing their amount of unpaid parental leave.
From 1 January 2014
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) will have the power to hear bullying disputes.
All awards and agreements will have to contain provisions about consultation regarding changes to rosters and work hours. This means that employers will have to consult with their employees if they want to change a worker’s regular roster or ordinary working hours. An employer will also have to inform workers of any major change that will have a significant impact on the workplace.