How employment law changes could affect your small business

If you’re a small business owner, a good team is possibly your biggest asset, but it can be tricky to stay abreast of the rules around employing staff.

These rules changed again recently, following the passing of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022.

So, what’s new, and how could it affect your business?

Flexible working

For starters, employees’ right to request flexible work arrangements has been strengthened.

That puts the onus on business owners to try to accommodate them, offer other reasonable alternatives or demonstrate why requests aren’t possible.

If there’s no agreement, the employer can be taken to the Fair Work Commission, and it can make a ruling as to whether it’s reasonable for the employer to agree to those requests.

Keeping it quiet

Requiring employees to keep their remuneration details confidential – a common provision in employment contracts historically – is no longer permissible.

Revised pay secrecy provisions mean it’s now up to the individual employee to decide whether they want to share.

As well as updating employment policies and contracts to reflect the change, business owners may need to consider how they’ll handle any conflict that may arise should an employee learn they’re being paid less than a co-worker in a similar role.

That could be an issue in a small business if you have some employees on different remuneration, and it’s made known to other employees.

Strengthened sexual discrimination and harassment legislation

While sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace were already unlawful, employers will now have to take more proactive measures to prevent and eliminate it.

On a day-to-day basis, it’s going to have to be treated more like occupational health and safety.

In the same way employers have to think about the health and safety risks that ensue when people are put in certain situations, they will have to consider what risk there might be of sexual harassment, on a work trip or at an industry function.

Fixed-term contract restrictions

Repeatedly employing individuals on fixed-term contracts, in lieu of offering them permanent work has also been outlawed. Under the new provisions, it’s ‘one and done’.

For some small businesses, taking on a permanent employee can sometimes be a big commitment, and they have been more comfortable maintaining fixed term arrangements which don’t carry an ongoing obligation.

But the government’s view was that it was unfair that employees had no remedy, if successive fixed terms contracts were brought to an end, so those circumstances have been restricted.

Seeking professional advice

The Secure Jobs, Better Pay amendment represents the biggest change to employment law since the introduction of the Fair Work Act, and there’s a lot that business owners need to be across.

Human resources management is one of the most complex aspects of owning a business and the cost of getting it wrong can have monumental financial implications for business owners.

Taking advice can help ensure you don’t inadvertently fall foul of the new provisions.

Cover for employment-related claims

Ensuring that you are compliant with legislation and have appropriate insurance in place will help protect your enterprise.

Employment practices liability cover can help mitigate the risk of employee claims related to discrimination, unfair dismissal and harassment. To discuss your cover needs, contact your Whitbread broker today.

Important notice
This article provides information rather than financial product or other advice. The content of this article, including any information contained in it, has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information, taking these matters into account, before you act on any information. In particular, you should review the product disclosure statement for any product that the information relates to it before acquiring the product.
Information is current as at the date the article is written as specified within it but is subject to change. Whitbread Insurance Brokers make no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information. Various third parties have contributed to the production of this content. All information is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of Whitbread Insurance Brokers.

T: 1300 424 627

LinkedIn WIB narrow

This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of personal advice. Please contact Whitbread Associates Pty Ltd ABN 69 005 490 228, License Number: 229092 trading as Whitbread Insurance Brokers for further information or refer to our website.

the whitbread channel

Navigating the Australian Strata Insurance Landscape
Underinsurance: Something you should always avoid when insuring your property.
How to help prepare your business for an El Nino summer

We'd love to hear from you.

Need to get in touch with the team? Please fill out the form and our team will get in touch shortly.