Closing the Loopholes (No.2) – Introduction and Timeline

Comprehensive Reform in Australian Workplace Relations

The Closing Loopholes No. 2 legislation, which passed Parliament last month, received Royal Assent on 26 February 2024. These legislative amendments aim to rectify existing gaps in the law, fostering a more equitable and just working environment. In this article series we will give employers an overview of what the changes are and how business might prepare for their introduction. This article is the first in our series and will provide an overview of the changes and their phased implementation.

Phased Implementation of Key Changes

Over the next 18 months, it is anticipated the changes will come into effect as follows:

Effective Immediately:

  • changes relating to intractable bargaining workplace determinations;
  • transition from multi-enterprise agreements to single enterprise agreements; and
  • the ability of franchisees to access single interest stream bargaining, and that make it harder for amalgamated unions to demerge.

From 26 August 2024:

  • the new right for workers to disconnect outside of paid hours will be in force (for businesses with over 15 employees);
  • changes to the definition of “casual employee”;
  • the process for casuals converting to full or part-time employment;
  • changing the way employment is defined;
  • providing recourse for regulated workers that are unfairly dismissed or “deactivated”;
  • introducing delegates’ rights, and providing them access to minimum standards and collective agreements; and
  • new measures for independent contractors to dispute unfair contracts.

From 1 November 2024:

  • regulated labour hire orders made by the Commission can start.

From 26 February 2025 or from another date by proclamation:

  • the FWC must make new model flexibility, consultation and disputes settlement terms for enterprise agreements.

From 26 August 2024:

  • the new right for workers to disconnect (small businesses).

Guidelines on the newly introduced legislation are anticipated before late April 2024.

These legislative reforms are set to redefine the landscape of workplace relations in Australia. By addressing key loopholes and introducing comprehensive changes, the government aims to create a more equitable, transparent, and a flexible working environment. As these reforms are implemented, both workers and employers will need to navigate the new regulations, with the support of the FWC and Fair Work Ombudsman (“FWO”) ensuring a balanced and fair transition into this new era of workplace relations.

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Closing the Loopholes (No.2) – The Right to Disconnect