Australia Update: Vaccine, Work From Home Webinar March 11 US; Debates On for Most Significant Labor Law Update In Decade

February 18, 2021

Following up on our December 2020 story, Australia’s “Fair Work Amendment Bill of 2020” is poised to be part of the Parliament’s early 2021 agenda.  If enacted, the reform package would be the most significant industrial relations change in over a decade.  More details within.  

Additionally, along with a law firm partner and BEERG, HR Policy Global is working to co-host a webinar on Thursday March 11 to discuss important issues Australia with a focus on vaccinations, working from home, and privacy issues.   

Planning March 11 “No Jab, No Job?” Webinar o Talk Vax, WFH Issues for Australia’s Employers:  For US-based members of HR Policy Global, we are thrilled to extend an invitation to a webinar we are working on hosting which will focus on vaccination, work from home, and privacy issues in Australia.  The event will a law firm in Australia which will provide an update on both the employer’s and employee’s rights with respect to vaccinations, working from home issues, and take questions.  Tom Hayes and Henry Eickelberg will provide shorter updates on these same issues for both Europe and US respectively.  Below is the date and time of the webinar based on time zone.  
  • New York (GMT-5) – Thursday 11 March, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Los Angeles (GMT-8) – Thursday 11 March, 2:30pm – 4:30pm
  • Paris (GMT+1) – Thursday 11 March, 11:30pm – 1:30am
  • Sydney (GMT+11) – Friday 12 March, 9:30am – 11:30am 
  • Perth (GMT+8) – Friday 12 March, 6:30am – 8:30am
If you would like to attend, please email Henry Eickelberg.

Australia’s “Fair Work Amendment Bill of 2020” – Important Labor Law Changes:  As we described in our December 2020 update and is further detailed by here, the most significant changes which would be brought by the bill pertain to “casual employees”.  First, recent AUS Federal Court decisions have created confusion on casual employees by potentially allowing them to “double dip” by receiving the scheduling benefits allotted to casual employees, but also potentially receiving benefits normally reserved for permanent employees.  

The Bill, if adopted, will alleviate some of the key concerns stemming from the court decisions by providing a statutory definition of casual employee.  In practice, the new definition’s application will remove the risk that an employee may inadvertently transition from casual to full-time status triggering penalties.  On the topic of penalties, the bill also provides for set-off mechanisms to address misclassification instances.  The process for conversion from casual to permanent status is also detailed by the Bill.  

HR Policy Global will monitor the debate and passage of the Bill as it moves through the Australian Parliament.

HR Policy Outlook:  The changes to “casual” workers and the impact will be important to monitor.  It is interesting to consider the changes and the status of “casual” employees to that of platform/gig/independent contractors.  Imagine a similar legal framework which identifies where gig-workers are employees, or which identifies factors which results in an employee population qualifying for social or employer-provided benefits.