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Vulnerable workers are set to receive better protection after the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017.
The Bill contains measures such as an increase in the maximum penalties for employers who deliberately ﬂaunt the minimum wage and other entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009. The new laws will apply from the day after the Bill receives royal assent, except for the new franchisor and holding company liability which will start six weeks later.
Franchisors and holding companies will be held responsible for underpayments by their franchisees where they know, or reasonably should have known, about the contraventions and failed to take reasonable steps toprevent them. The new laws will:
A court could impose these higher penalties where an employer knew they were breaching their obligations and this conduct is part of a systematic pattern of behaviour. Maximum penalties of $630,000 and $126,000 per contravention could apply to corporations and individuals respectively.
employers give false or misleading pay slips to workers, or provide the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) with false information or documents.
Furthermore, where an employer has not met their record-keeping or pay slip obligations, the employer will have to disprove a wage claim put before a Court unless the employer has a reasonable excuse for not keeping records or issuing pay slips.
The Fair Work Ombudsman will be given new evidence gathering powers to require a person to provide information or documents to the FWO or to attend before senior FWO officials to answer questions on oath or affirmation relating to underpayment of workers. Individuals will have stronger protections with the strengthening of the FWO’s new evidence powers including rules preventing the evidence a person gives from being used against them personally, the right to have a lawyer present if they attend to answer questions, the right to claim reimbursement of reasonable expenses and supervision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
While the FWO acknowledges most employers work with the FWO to address concerns about an employee’s entitlements, those engaging in deliberate breaches of the law often do not cooperate. The new powers will help address serious cases of non-compliance and exploitation, especially in protecting the most vulnerable community members.
AGS Financial Group Pty Ltd, ABN 70 093 990 946, trading as AGS Financial Group, are authorised representatives of AMP Financial Planning Pty Limited ABN 89 051 208 327 (Australian Financial Services Licence No. 232706). Any advice on this page is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Accordingly, you should consider the product disclosure statement for any product and your own objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on this information and before acquiring a financial product. You can obtain a copy by contacting us on 02 9966 8188.
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