Update on business compliance issues
Brenda Garrard-Forster, general manager of HRAnywhere, updates us on three relevant changes in the legislative and human resources world.
What is new with industrial manslaughter
Every state but Tasmania recognises industrial manslaughter as a crime with varying but substantial financial penalties for businesses and prison time for individuals.
Recently, in South Australia, the Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill was introduced with increased penalties for the most serious health and safety breaches. These penalties also recognise the significant loss suffered by the families of workers who die in preventable workplace incidents.
Individuals can face a maximum penalty of up to 20 years behind bars, while companies can be fined by up to $18 million if they are found to be reckless or grossly negligent in conduct which breaches a work health and safety duty, according to the Bill.
It is imperative, especially for high-risk businesses, to identify hazards to mitigate the risk of any preventable workplace injury or illness, especially if there is a risk of death.
Every business must ensure they have Workers Compensation Insurance to cover all their employees. There are two categories that will affect your WorkCover premium – remuneration and industry.
If employee remuneration is $200,000 or less, your insurance premium will be calculated using the industry rate. If the remuneration is more, it will be calculated differently. Instead, your Workcover premium will be calculated taking into account your claims experience relative to the claims experience of the rest of your industry. This means that if your business performs better than your industry average, you will pay less. If not, you will pay more. It is very possible that your WorkCover premium is too high. You may have provided incorrect remuneration data or perhaps WorkSafe has made an incorrect industry classification.
The process of auditing this data is laborious and tedious but can reap large rewards in the form of refund. Talk to HRAnywhere about actioning this for you – it is a free service, and you will only incur a cost if we can secure you a refund! Earlier this year we secured a refund for one of our clients of $150,000 for the past two years of premiums and they will also receive a refund of approximately $68,000 on their FY22/23 premium. In addition to these refunds, their FY23/24 premium will see a large saving.
The Protecting Worker Entitlements Act 2023
Recently the federal Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023 was passed which altered five key areas of employment law, two of which were effective 1 July 2023: unpaid parental leave entitlements; and further clarity around migrant worker entitlements.
Unpaid parental leave entitlements have three key changes which include:
• The ability for both parents to take up to 24 months of unpaid parental leave, regardless of how much leave the other parent has taken;
• An increase in flexible parental leave days from 30 to 100 days; and
• The removal of the 8 week limit on employees taking concurrent parental leave.
Regarding the clarity around migrant worker entitlements, it should be noted that they are still entitled to protections under the Fair Work Act 2009, even if they have breached their visa conditions or lost rights to work in this country.
The three other changes will be effective later this year include:
• Changes to rules around ongoing and variable deductions from an employee’s pay;
• Introducing superannuation entitlements into the NES;
• And changes to long service leave in the coal mining industry.
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