The Fair Work Amendment Act 2015 (Act) has become law with effect from 27 November 2015, following the granting of Royal Assent.
On 13 October 2015, the Australian Senate passed a substantially amended version of the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014, which had been originally passed by the House of Representatives.
The Senate version of the Bill was then passed by the House on 11 November 2015.
Royal Assent was granted on 26 November 2015.
The Act implements substantial changes to the terms of the Fair Work Act 2009 dealing with the negotiation of greenfields enterprise agreements, and with protected industrial action, the effect of which was discussed in detail in a previous blog article.
In addition, the Act amends the Fair Work Act 2009 to:
- impose a requirement that employers must not refuse a request from an employee to extend their unpaid parental leave to use more of their available leave period (where one extension has already been given) unless the employer has given the employee a reasonable opportunity to discuss the request; and
- provide for the payment of interest by the Fair Work Ombudsman on unclaimed employee remuneration which is paid to the Commonwealth and later claimed by the employee.
The Senate rejected numerous provisions of the Bill which was originally passed by the House of Representatives, including provisions which would have:
- required annual leave loading to be paid out on termination of employment only where such a termination payment is expressly provided for under a modern award, enterprise agreement or employment contract;
- limited the right of unions to enter workplaces to undertake discussions with employees, by repealing expansions to the right of entry provisions introduced by the previous Labor government; and
- reduced the ability of employers and employees to include individual flexibility agreement (IFA) terms in enterprise agreements which are narrower than the model flexibility term.