New financial year, new HR consideration – What employers need to know!
  • Family and Domestic Violence Leave
  • Minimum wage increases
  • Unfair dismissal remedy cap increase

July 1st has come and gone and with it there have been some important changes that employers need to keep abreast of. Increases in minimum wages, changes to compensation caps for unfair dismissal and the introduction of family and domestic violence leave on 1 August all have significant ramifications for employers. Here we take a closer look at these changes and explore employer obligations with regard to these changes.

Family and Domestic Violence Leave

On 6 July 2018 the Fair Work Commission Full Bench (FWCFB) issued a decision dealing with family and domestic violence leave. The decision has resulted in the inclusion in all mordern awards of a standardised term providing for five unpaid days of leave each year to assist employees in dealing with family and domestic violence. The new entitlement came into effect in the first pay period on or after 1 August 2018.

The initial application for family and domestic violence leave, made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions claimed for 10 days paid domestic violence leave with the view to this being inserted into all modern awards. In a decision issued in early 2018, the FWCFB determined that the entitlement should consist of five days of unpaid leave per annum for employees experiencing family and domestic violence, or in the event that an employee needs to do something to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence where it is impractical for them to do that outside of ordinary work hours.

A summary of the new provisions is outlined below.

  • All employees (including casuals, part timers, apprentices, fixed term employees etc.) will be entitled to five days unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence, as defined.
  • The leave will be available in full at the start of each 12-month period of the employee’s employment.
  • The leave does not accrue progressively and is an upfront entitlement.
  • It does not accumulate from year to year.
  • The employer and employee may agree to the taking of part days or more than 5 days of leave.
  • Employees will not be required to have accessed or exhausted any other type of available leave as a pre-condition to accessing the entitlement to family and domestic violence leave.
  • Employees are required to give notice of the leave as soon as practical and advise the employer of the period/expected period of leave.
  • The period of unpaid leave doesn’t count as service but doesn’t break service.
  • If requested by their employer, the employee must give evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that the leave is taken for its specified purpose.
  • Employers are required to take steps to ensure confidentiality (as far as it is reasonably practical) with regard to information or evidence provided in relation to the leave.

It is important to note that these new provisions only apply to national system employers and to those covered by a modern award that contains the family and domestic violence leave term.

High Income Threshold for State and National System

The high-income threshold, in part, determines an employee’s eligibility to access unfair dismissal remedies. This figure is indexed annually. From 1 July 2018 the federal high-income threshold has increased to $145,400. Award/agreement free employees earning over the threshold will not be eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim.

Likewise, the state high income threshold has been increased to $162,990 per annum. This limits employees’ access to certain claims such as state unfair dismissal and denial of contractual benefits claims where they earn above this threshold and are not covered by an industrial instrument.

Unfair Dismissal Remedies

In addition to, or in conjunction with reinstatement, federal system employers may be directed to compensate employees in the form of back payment of up to six months’ wages, to a maximum of $72,700 (or half of the federal high-income threshold). In the state system the cap for unfair dismissal compensation is up to a maximum of 6 months of the employees’ wages.

Filing fees

From 1 July 2018 the filing fee for unfair dismissal, general protections and anti-bullying applications made in the federal jurisdiction increased to $71.90.

In the state system the filing fee for unfair dismissal and contractual benefits claims will remain at $50, and the filing fee for claims made to the Industrial Magistrate’s Court will remain at $40.

 Supported wage

For employees with a disability whose productivity is affected, subject to an assessment, there is a minimum payment of no less than $86 per week. For those with a disability whose productivity is not affected, the National Minimum Wage order contains a minimum wage of $719.20 per week or $18.93 per hour.

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage decision increased the federal minimum wage for award and agreement free employees by 3.5% to $719.20 per week, or $18.93 per hour from the first pay period on or after 1 July 2018. This applies to all national industrial relations system employers. The 3.5% wage increase flows through to all modern award rates of pay and also increases minimum wages for award-free apprentices, trainees and junior employees.

 State Minimum Wage

 The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission released its annual State Wage Order in June, increasing the state minimum wage by a $18 per week to $726.90 per week or $19.13 per hour from the first pay period on or after 1 July 2018. This applies to employers in the state industrial relations system.

 

To confirm which industrial relations system applies to your business or for more information any of the above contact CCI’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or email advice@cciwa.com