Latest News In Workplace Law
*Minimum wage increase* effective 1 July 2019
A reminder that the 3.0% minimum wage increase will be in effect as of 1 July 2019. Modern awards were updated on 20 June 2019 to provide for the increase to the minimum wage. Employers should ensure, if they are paying employees at the current minimum wage rate, that this will need to be increased and effective from the 1 July 2019.
The increase will not affect employees who already get paid more than the new minimum wage. However, it is important to stop and consider whether annualised salary or other all in pay arrangements still result in employees being better off overall than they would be if paid in accordance with the award.
Annual Wage Review 2018-19  FWCFB 3500
*New whistleblower laws* effective 1 July 2019
As of 1 July 2019, Australia will have a new whistleblower protection regime which will cover the corporate, financial and tax sectors. This regime was introduced by the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 (Act), which aims to encourage ethical whistleblowing and discourage white collar crime, while holding employers accountable for protecting eligible whistleblowers.
The Act introduces a new requirement for all public companies and large proprietary companies to have a ‘compliant’ whistleblower policy in place. Companies will have until 1 January 2020 to put in place the policy. Companies who fail to have a compliant policy in place after this time will be exposed to fines up to $12,600 (60 penalty units).
The maximum civil penalties, under the new regime, for breaching confidentiality of an eligible whistleblower’s identity or causing or threatening detriment include:
- for individuals, up to $1.05 million (5,000 penalty units); and
- for companies, $10.5 million (50,000 penalty units), or 10% of the annual turnover (up to $525 million or 5 million penalty units).
Employers should start to respond to the new whistleblower regime now to ensure compliance.
First labour hire licensing conviction in Queensland
On 18 June 2019, the Stanthorpe Magistrates Court found A & J Group Services Pty Ltd (A & J Group) guilty for operating without a license under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Qld) (LHL Act). Operating without a license exposes corporations to a maximum penalty of $391,650.
A community member tipped off the Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit that A & J Group was still supplying workers after it was advised it was no longer permitted to provide labour hire services in Queensland. However, it continued to operate until it was caught providing services to a strawberry farm in Queensland, and was fined $60,000, with the magistrate noting the deliberate decision of the company to ignore the warning and continue providing labour hire services unlawfully.
A & J Group Services Pty Ltd