Psychosocial Risks

Human resources Sydney

Psychosocial hazards have been a longstanding concern within Australia’s work health and safety laws. Recent amendments, effective from December 2023, bring about significant changes, introducing increased penalties and new criminal responsibility provisions for both bodies corporate and the Commonwealth.

Understanding psychosocial hazards

But first, what exactly is a psychosocial hazard?

In broad terms, it includes anything capable of causing psychological harm, including bullying, role ambiguity, limited job control, remote or isolated work, violence, aggression, harassment and more.

Safe Work Australia, the entity leading the development of national policy for improved work health and safety addresses this issue in more detail.

Key legal changes employers must be aware of

The amendments to the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the WHS Act), which came into effect on 15 December 2023, usher in increased penalties.

Category 1 offences incur:

  • a $15 million penalty for a body corporate or the Commonwealth, increased from $3 million
  • a $3 million penalty for a person conducting a business or undertaking or an officer, increased from $600,000
  • a $1.5 million penalty for any other person, increased from $300,000
  • Category 2 and Category 3 offences incur:
  • Category 2 penalties stand at $2,090,000, up from $1.5 million
  • Category 3 penalties stand at $700,000, up from $500,000

The new criminal responsibility provisions have implications for officers, employees and authorised persons who act on behalf of a body corporate.

Practical steps that employers should take

In order to navigate these changes effectively, employers should consider the following steps:

  • Download Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work. This offers practical guidance to PCBUs (person conducting a business or undertaking) on how to manage psychosocial hazards at work
  • Access the model WHS Regulations which incorporates all amendments made since 2011
  • Review Comcare’s updates on the latest changes to WHS (work health and safety). These updates include links to additional resources and information. Comcare is the national authority for work health and safety, and workers’ compensation
  • Review and amend the organisation’s current policies, programs, practices and processes to ensure that these are compliant with these changes
  • Ensure that there is sufficient internal communication of these issues and ongoing training for both managers and employees. Doing so will allow all parties to continue to stay abreast of what is required and better understand how these changes impact their roles and responsibilities

Specific changes in Queensland

Employers in Queensland should be aware of additional legislative changes. The Queensland government recently introduced new laws establishing coercive control as a stand-alone, criminal offence.

Coercive control involves a pattern of behaviour, encompassing physical, social, financial or psychological abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten an individual. Such behaviour is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

A recent Women’s Agenda article on this issue drew reference to comments made by Queensland’s Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette D’Ath. The minister stated, “Coercive control is serious, it has serious impacts on the victim and their families and a new, stand-alone offence reflects that non-physical violence is just as dangerous as physical violence”.

If you have questions about these legal changes, psychosocial risks, and how these can be managed at the workplace, please get in touch. Wurth HR can assist in several ways, including an assessment of the organisation’s current state of readiness as well as development of appropriate policies and procedures to remain fully compliant.

Wurth HR offers consulting and training on all of the areas above. Feel free to contact us if you have questions about any of the above matters or require guidance on the specific steps your business needs to take.

▶ Contact David Wurth for an obligation-free discussion at 1300 900 741

What could possibly go wrong?

Yes, December is nearly upon us again. You’ve probably already booked your venue for the annual celebration of your business’ stellar performance throughout the year. You want to thank your employees for their massive contribution and you probably feel like letting your hair down a bit too.

That’s great, but it’s prudent to have a few checks in place before the big event:

  • You no doubt already have strong policies on bullying and sexual harassment. Now is a good time to remind your people of these policies and to review what is expected of people generally when they attend a work-sponsored function
  • You should remind people a few days before the party of how you expect them to behave on the day itself
  • Make sure the venue you choose has a responsible serving of alcohol (RSA) policy that they strictly adhere to
  • On the day of the function ensure that at least one senior manager is present at all times during the function. It’s preferable if that person doesn’t drink at all. You might even solicit the help of any other non-drinkers, if they’re willing to keep an informal eye on things
  • Make sure you serve non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of food and water, keeping in mind any special dietary requirements
  • If anyone seems drunk they should be immediately cut off from the bar and sent home in a cab
  • Have a definite start and end time for your function and make sure people leave the venue when the time arrives. Don’t let people linger at the same venue. If they want to kick on, they should go somewhere else
  • Do not let anyone use their corporate credit card at a different venue. This also applies to you as the business owner, if you decide to kick on somewhere else. The idea is to separate your business from the social gathering, once the official party is over
  • Make sure people can get home easily after the event. You could set up a work Uber account and have a designated person available to book people’s trips home. Cab charges are a good alternative
  • Be sure to promptly and thoroughly investigate any complaints you receive about harassment, bullying or physical violence, as you would normally at any other time.

Don’t forget, if you close down over the Christmas break, give employees at least 2 months’ notice and be prepared to answer questions about paid and unpaid leave, especially from your recently-hired employees who may not have enough accrued paid leave to see them through the annual shutdown. Consider letting employees take annual leave in advance.

A safe workplace is everyone’s responsibility

Human resources Sydney


Proactive, Clear and Solution-Oriented Workplaces

Every employee has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. As an employer, are you aware of whether your systems, processes, and practices are legally compliant? 

Health and safety at the workplace cover a wide range  of issues, including how to protect vulnerable employees, mitigating against psychosocial hazards, ensuring the provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, addressing harassment and bullying, and more.

An employer must take a holistic approach that considers a range of issues, including: 

  • conducting mandatory inspections
  • properly addressing complaints
  • providing ongoing training and development for employees
  • meeting mandatory reporting and notification requirements. 

Additionally, there are also sector-specific requirements that you need to be aware of, as changes in the law can have serious consequences.

In recognition of National Safe Work Month, we would like to highlight four things you must do to ensure you continue to keep your workplace safe and healthy, regardless of your industry sector.

Be proactive about abolishing sexual harassment at your workplace

Did you know that an estimated 1.7 million Australians were sexually harassed in 2021-22? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report released in August this year, nearly half (45 per cent) of the 1.3 million women who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months experienced multiple sexual harassment behaviours.

The Workplace Equality and Respect process identifies four key steps you can take to assess your business, identify priority areas and then, implement actions. This includes: 

  • readiness assessment
  • project planning 
  • benchmarking and diagnostics 
  • action planning and review

Ensure WHS, bullying and harassment are mandatory agenda items at team meetings

All team meetings, large or small, should ensure that conversations around workplace health and safety, and in particular, on bullying and harassment, are recurring agenda items. 

These need not take up the majority of the time but inclusion serves to keep everyone on the same page in terms of awareness and prioritisation. A quick check-in on things that may be only just surfacing can therefore be caught before it becomes a much larger issue.

Make available a workplace ‘ombudsman’

An ombudsman is an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against a company or an organisation, typically a public authority.  Making available a workplace “ombudsman” allows for bullying and harassment complaints to be raised and addressed within the workplace. 

This should be addressed by a trained contact officer with regular internal reporting to the management team. This sends an unequivocal message to all employees that the organisation takes these concerns seriously.

Communicate and train all employees that it’s their responsibility to speak up

Every employee in an organisation has a role to play. So while most of the ideas here address the responsibilities and commitments required of the employer, the organisation should take positive steps to ensure that all of its employees understand their role clearly. 

Often, employees are at the front lines when issues or incidents arise. Employees should therefore be made aware and trained regularly as to their responsibility in being vigilant and speaking up against bullying and harassment. These should be communicated through the usual channels such as during an employee’s onboarding, addressed in the employee handbook as well as through regular communication and training sessions.

Wurth HR offers consulting and training on all of the areas above. Feel free to contact us if you have questions about any of the above matters or require guidance on the specific steps your business needs to take.
Contact David Wurth for an obligation-free discussion at 1300 900 741.

Don’t read this HR update

Key Employment Condition Changes in Australia
What Employers Must Know

If you run an Australian business, regardless of its size, you must understand and comply with these 10 recent and upcoming changes that impact your employment and people management practices.

 

Requests for flexible working arrangements
Requests for flexible working arrangements now encompass pregnancy, as well as situations related to family and domestic violence. As an employer, you must carefully consider these arrangements when such requests are made.
When changes apply:  now in force.

Pay secrecy
You must ensure that any reference to pay confidentiality in existing employment contracts and HR policies are removed. You must also ensure that any new employment contracts do not include references to pay secrecy.
When changes apply
:  now in force.

“Respect@Work”
As an employer, you are required to proactively prevent sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying in the workplace. This involves several key processes including:

  • Developing and maintaining a policy on harassment, discrimination and bullying
  • Keeping detailed meeting minutes that document discussions about these issues in team meetings
  • Establishing clear and robust reporting procedures
  • Identifying employees who should be trained to handle complaints effectively and providing the appropriate training
  • Provide regular training for employees and managers. Note that annual 15-minute webinars are no longer considered appropriate for this purpose.
    When changes apply
    : now in force

“Zombie agreements”
All pre-2010 Enterprise Agreements, often referred to as  ‘zombie agreements’, will automatically terminate ( or ‘sunset’). Many of these agreements no longer apply and have ceased to operate.
When changes apply:  from 7 December 2023.

Fixed-term contracts
A fixed-term contract cannot extend beyond two years, including any extensions. If you enter into a fixed-term contract with an individual, you are required to provide them with a “Fixed Term Contract Information Statement”.
When changes apply:  from 7 December 2023.

Wage theft
Wage theft encompasses various issues such as failing to pay overtime or penalty rates, making unlawful cash deductions for breakages, denying leave, demanding wages through illegal cash-back schemes, incorrect wage payments and non-payment of wages. Wage theft will soon be treated as a criminal offence, carrying large fines and possible imprisonment.
When changes apply:  coming into effect shortly.

Work, health and safety      
Violations of work, health and safety laws and regulations shall result in increased penalties, including a new offence called “industrial manslaughter” which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
When changes apply
:  coming into effect shortly.

Casual workers – change in employment status
Casual workers will soon have the option to request permanent employment status after six months service, subject to specific conditions.
When changes apply:  coming into effect shortly.

Casual workers – reissue of casual employment information statement (CEIS)
If you employ casual workers, you will be required to re-issue the CEIS to each casual worker every 12 months.
When changes apply
:  coming into effect shortly.

Labour-hire workers
If your employees are covered by an Enterprise Agreement and you hire labour-hire workers, you will be required to ensure that the labour-hire workers receive equal pay to your employees when performing similar work. 
When changes apply
:  coming into effect shortly.

This list is non-exhaustive and requires you to address several issues based on your specific circumstances and business requirements. Please be aware that significant penalties, including imprisonment in certain circumstances, apply to employers who fail to comply. Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse.

Wurth HR offers consulting and training on all of the areas above. Contact us if you have questions about any of the above matters or require guidance on the specific steps your business needs to take.
▶ Contact David Wurth for an obligation-free discussion at 1300 900 741 or email:info@wurthhr.com.au

 

 

Useful figures for Financial Year 2024

Minimum wage from 1/7/23

$882.80 per week (8.6% increase)

$23.23 per hour ($29.04 casual)

$45,905.60 pa ($57,382.00 pa – casual)

Modern Awards increased by 5.75%

Unfair dismissal threshold from 1/7/23

$167,500 (max payout is $83,750) – does not include Super, commissions or bonuses (doesn’t apply to people covered by a Modern Award. No cap for a general protections claim)

$83.30 to lodge a claim with FWC – bullying, unfair dismissal & general protection

Tax-free threshold on ETP from 1/7/23

$11,985 tax-free plus $5,994 for each completed year of service Lump Sum D

Super maximum for employers from 1/7/23

$249,080 pa ($62,270 per quarter)

Super

11% from 1/7/23 then .5% each year until 12% on 1/7/25

Payroll tax NSW FY24

5.45% ($1,200,000 threshold) – no change from FY23

ATO mileage rate FY24 – 85c (was 78c in FY23)

Sexual harassment – your role as an employer

This is an excellent article by Kirsty Harvison about the steps you need to take now to proactively ensure your workplace provides a safe working environment for your workers.

It talks about sexual harassment but the issue is even bigger – bullying, aggressive behaviour, victimisation and turning a blind eye are work-related issues that you need to address.

It’s the law now, not simply a nice to have anymore. And it’s not HR’s job – it’s yours, as the employer.

HR’s job is to help and advise you on how to take proactive steps towards providing a safe working environment.

Do not think that because no one is reporting sexual harassment that it’s not happening in your workplace.

This is a common mistake – the “no news is good news” syndrome.

Please get in touch if you need help with any aspect of what’s discussed in this article:

https://community.hrdaily.com.au/profiles/blogs/if-respect-work-is-not-on-your-board-amp-executive-agenda-it

David Wurth

16/6/23

Important changes affecting pay secrecy, gender equality and enterprise agreements

What you need to know

The Australian Government has recently made major changes to the fair work legislation which affect a number of existing rules and have introduced new workplace laws (which have various start dates).

Changes that apply now

These changes fall within the following categories: job security, gender equality measures,  enterprise agreements and enterprise bargaining, the abolition of the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission) and the ROC (Registered Organisations Commission), and small claims process.

1. Job security

1.1       New workplace rights on disclosing pay and workplace conditions

With effect from 7 December 2022, employees shall have new workplace rights to:

  • either share or not share information about their pay and employment terms (such as their hours of work)
  • ask other employees (whether with the same or different employer) about their pay and employment term

However, employees cannot be forced to provide such information if they do not want to. These rights remain even after employment ceases.

These rights apply to an employee who enters into a new employment contract on or after 7 December 2022 or existing employees where the contract of employment does not include pay secrecy terms inconsistent with these new rights.

If an employee’s existing employment contract has pay secrecy terms that are inconsistent with the new workplace rights and the contract is changed after the new law comes into force, the new workplace rights apply to the employee.

Impact on your organisation

As an employer, you cannot take adverse action (such as dismissal) against your employee either because of these rights or to prevent these rights from being exercised.

Consequences

  • The Fair Work Ombudsman may take enforcement action including court proceedings for alleged breaches of these provisions
  • You could face penalties for non-compliance

Further information

Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s page on pay secrecy

1.2       Prohibiting pay secrecy

New laws
With effect from 7 June 2023, pay secrecy clauses cannot be included in employment contracts.

Impact on your organisation

  • Pay secrecy terms that are inconsistent with these new workplace rights cannot be included in employment contracts or other written agreements entered into on or after 7 June 2023
  • If you use an award or enterprise agreement or employment contract which has a pay secrecy clause, after 7 December 2022, that clause will have no effect and remain unenforceable (regardless of when the agreement was made). This also applies to employment contracts in effect before 7 December 2022 if the contract does not include a pay secrecy clause or includes such a clause and the contract is changed

Consequences

  • The Fair Work Ombudsman may take enforcement action including court proceedings for alleged breaches of these provisions
  • You could face penalties for non-compliance

Further information

1.3       Unlawful job advertisements

With effect from 7 January 2023, job advertisements cannot include pay rates that would breach the Fair Work Act or a fair work instrument (such as an award or enterprise agreement).

Impact on your organisation

  • As an employer, you cannot include pay rates that undercut an employee’s minimum entitlements
  • When advertising pieceworker positions (where an individual is paid according to the quantity of work produced) where the employee would be entitled to a periodic rate of pay (such as an hourly or weekly rate of pay), you must specify the periodic pay rate applicable or state in your ad that a periodic pay rate applies
  • The impact of the timeframe is that regardless of when the ad was originally posted, the requirement applies from 7 January 2023 (which covers ads posted earlier than this date)

Consequences

You could face penalties unless a reasonable excuse for non-compliance is provided.

Further information

Visit the Department of Employment and Workplace Relation’s fact sheet on prohibited job advertisements

2. Gender equality measures

2.1 New protections

With effect from 7 December 2022, there are new protections affecting breastfeeding, gender identity, and intersex status at the workplace.

Impact on your organisation

As an employer, you are prohibited from taking adverse action against current or future employees because of these changes.

Consequences

If an employee experiences adverse action in relation to the above, they can make a complaint through the Fair Work Commission (the FWC) which has the power to start court proceedings for alleged breaches of these new protections

Further information

2.2       Equal remuneration principles and orders

New principle

With effect from 7 December 2022, the Fair Work Act now has a new equal remuneration principle that guides the consideration of equal remuneration and helps the Commission issue pay increases to workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries. The FWC may now make an equal remuneration order on its own accord or on application.

2.3       New workplace sexual harassment laws

New laws

With effect from 6 March 2023, workplace sexual harassment is prohibited under the Fair Work Act. This applies to workers (employees, contractors, work experience students, and volunteers) and people conducting a business or undertaking.

Impact on your organisation

As an employer, you must understand what constitutes workplace harassment, and manage any such harassment at the workplace. This includes mitigation, remedial action, compliance, regular employee training as well as assessment, and monitoring of the issue.

Consequences

  • An individual or company can be liable for sexual harassment committed by an employee (or agent) in connection with work unless they can prove that reasonable steps were taken to prevent such harassment
  • The Commission has expanded powers to address disputes including arbitration and the power to start court proceedings
  • An individual can pursue civil proceedings if the FWC is unable to resolve the dispute
  • An individual who believes they have been sexually harassed at work may make a ‘stop sexual harassment’ application to the Commission

Further information

Read the Fair Work detailed article on new workplace sexual harassment laws

3. Enterprise agreements and enterprise bargaining

 

The process for terminating an enterprise agreement has changed with effect from 7 December 2022. The FWC must terminate an enterprise agreement if one of the following applies:

  • the continued operation of the agreement would be unfair for the employee covered or
  • the agreement does not cover any employee or
  • all the following applies:
    • the continued operation of the agreement poses a significant threat to the viability of the business and
    • terminating the agreement is expected to reduce the risk of terminations of employment and
    • if the agreement has terms about termination entitlements, the employer it covers guarantees the termination entitlements to the Commission.

All agreements, still in operation, which were made before the commencement of the Fair Work Act will automatically sunset (terminate) on 7 December 2023.

Impact on your organisation

  • As an employer, you are still permitted to terminate an agreement with the consent of employees as per existing rules
  • If you have such an agreement, you can apply to the FWC to extend the sunset date by up to 4 years at a time, provided certain conditions are met
  • You are required to notify in writing, before 7 June 2023, affected employees about the upcoming termination unless the application for extension of time is made

Consequences

  • The FWC has the power to start court proceedings for breaches relating to the guarantees of termination entitlements and breaches for failure to notify about sunsetting agreements
  • If the guarantee is breached or there is failure to notify the employees about the agreement sunset, you may face penalties.

Further information

Visit the Fair Work Commission’s website on enterprise agreements

4. Abolition of the ABCC and the ROC

With effect from 6 February 2023, the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission) and the ROC (Registered Organisations Commission) have been abolished.

Impact on your organisation

All ongoing legal matters currently before the courts shall now be transferred to the FWC. Employers may seek workplace advice, information, and assistance from the FWC. The same reporting and compliance obligations remain.

Further information

5. Enhanced small claims process

With effect from 1 July 2023, the monetary cap for recovering unpaid entitlements (via the small claims process) will increase from $20,000 to $100,000. More details will be announced shortly on the FWC’s website.

Further information

Visit the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations fact sheet – Amending the Fair Work Act small claims process.

Do you need advice or support?

More details on these issues above will be clarified on the FWC’s website shortly.

If you require advice or have questions pertaining to these changes and compliance measures, please contact David Wurth, Director at Wurth HR.

Email:  david@wurthhr.com.au
Phone: 1300 900 741

 

Workplace harassment awareness

Hey, bully! I am calling you out.

I am not going to let you bully, harass or threaten the rest of the team here at this wonderful organisation. It has taken years to build this organisation and grow our team.

Everyone knows that sexual harassment and bullying can truly destroy a business, not to mention people’s lives. So I will do whatever it takes to protect the business we’ve built.

I know that the most important thing we need to do in operating this business is to remain proactive and mindful about everything that goes on inside. We need effective systems, processes and procedures that highlight our culture, what we will allow and what we will not. We need to walk the talk which means being clear about the consequences of actions we will not tolerate.

I know that it is simply not enough to draft a policy on this issue. It is not enough to provide random 15-minute videos for new starters to watch.

So you can expect that we will have regular team meetings on this issue. We will ensure that senior management and managers across all levels display and promote the behaviours we seek to enforce and support.

We will continue to encourage whistleblowing as a key element in this strategy. We understand how emotionally charged these situations can be, we know our people expect us to lead the way and we know that we need to display good behaviour.

And ultimately, all these actions, policies and procedures serve one goal – to provide a safe work environment for our people.

Our people will always be our top priority. There is no business, there is no growth or success or moving forward without our people.

For this reason:

  • we do everything in our power to create a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace
  • we provide resources, support and education to support our organisation and our people to better understand, prevent and address workplace harassment and
  • we take our legal obligations seriously, ensuring that we maintain our positive duty to prevent workplace harassment and victimisation.

So this is what you can expect at our workplace:

  • clear leadership on these issues including effective risk assessment and transparency
  • regularly reviewed clear, written guidelines and protocols that outline our policies on preventing and responding to workplace harassment
  • clear articulation of what constitutes workplace harassment and the ways in which this may occur
  • consistent written communication and regular training for everyone on these guidelines and policies
  • a thorough and transparent investigation process of any complaints as well as robust reporting and measuring activities.

For this reason, do not even think you will get away with anything here. Do not think that your  bad behaviour will be tolerated and that swift action will not be taken. Be very clear about what we consider to be threatening, unreasonable or abusive behaviour or even violence in the workplace.

There is no place in our organisation for someone like you.

Your General Manager

 

Wurth HR offers Workplace Harassment Awareness Training in the form of corporate in-house workshops. These are interactive 3-hour workshops available face-to-face or online. The training focusses on detection, prevention, mitigation and management of workplace harassment and bullying.

▶ Contact David Wurth on 1300 900 741.

Why managers need to sharpen their interviewing skills

I was excited about the latest hire for our sales team. Jill had come across as bright, capable and incredibly enthusiastic. Or so I thought. 4 weeks into her new role, she came into my office one morning to announce that she was leaving.

Just like that. She mumbled something about how the job was not quite what she thought it would be.

I was blindsided.

What was I thinking? Did I miss key signs in the interview process? Would I really need to go through the entire recruitment process all over again? Everyone in the sales team was raving about Jill, making plans, talking about changes and now, this happened.

This was going to be devastating and costly.  The worst thing was that I would probably lose credibility with my team and peers.

Change the team and the names and you will find that this is a repeat scenario many companies face as they embark on various recruitment drives.

We could perhaps discover more about why Jill decided to leave through an exit interview. But is an exit interview even worth the trouble or a waste of your time?

Instead, I recommend investing time on evaluating your recruitment practices to find out where things may have gone wrong in the past. Perhaps, you may be able to identify and address issues before they occur. One thing you should do as a hiring manager is radically improve your own interviewing skills.

Developing your interviewing skills

Samuel G Trull, in his Harvard Business Review article on effective interviewing, noted that a lack of adequate planning for an interview is the single greatest fault found in his studies of the interviewing process.

In effect, you require a framework to approach the interview process. A simple, yet effective, framework can be developed to:

  • provide you with a suitable interview script you can apply in each interview
  • identify what you need to look for in a resume
  • give you the tools to figure out what additional information should be obtained
  • compile a shortlist of key questions
  • identify which questions to avoid
  • discover the most common mistakes typically made at interviews and how you or your team can avoid these pitfalls.

The big why driving this activity

You want to find the right person for the role and you want to do it easily and quickly. This requires you to put in place a robust framework that not only supports you throughout the recruitment process but enables good hiring decisions to be made. You want the insights gleaned from the process to be shared for the collective benefit of the team and the organisation.

As a manager, you’d like to be able to read between the lines and address issues as they arise. This requires building skills in active listening, knowing how to phrase questions and placing enough emphasis on the importance of non-verbal cues. You also need to understand how your attitudes and biases may affect the interpretation of information received from prospective new hires.

 

Wurth HR offers Interviewing Skills for Managers, a corporate in-house workshop. As an interactive two or three-day workshop available on-site or online, it will provide hiring managers with a framework for making good hiring decisions.

▶ Discover more about the workshop
▶ Contact
David Wurth for an obligation-free discussion on 1300 900 741 or email David directly:

david@wurthhr.com.au

Upcoming changes to paid parental leave

What you need to know

The Federal Government has recently announced major changes to the Paid Parental Leave Scheme (PPL).

The current scheme

  • enables parents to take time off work to care for a newborn or newly adopted child by providing income while they are away from work
  • this income is at the rate of the national minimum wage currently at $812.60 per week
  • incorporates two government-funded payments:
    • Parental Leave Pay (PLP): usually paid to mothers but may in some circumstances be paid to other eligible primary carers, providing eligible working parents with up to 18 weeks of payments
    • Dad and Partner Pay (DAPP): provides eligible working fathers or partners with up to two weeks of payments
  • both the PLP and DAPP are subject to an income threshold where those earning greater than $151,350 are ineligible for this scheme.

Changes to the current scheme

As a result of, among other issues, criticism for reinforcing outdated gender roles, changes and enhancements to the current scheme, as outlined below, shall take effect from 1 July 2023.

  • the PLP and DAPP payments will be combined and extended into a single 20-week payment at the national minimum wage which enables both parents to claim an equal amount of parental leave entitlements
  • under the new arrangements, the threshold limit will increase to $156,647 for each parent and there shall be a new $350,000 family income limit
  • fathers and partners will be allowed to receive payments under the scheme at the same time as they receive employer-funded leave, previously not possible
  • one parent could take the full entitlement or it could be shared between a couple, with the option for both parents to take parental leave at the same time
  • the 20-week limit will be expanded by two weeks starting from 1 July 2024 with parental leave pay increasing by two weeks each year until 1 July 2026 for a total of 26 weeks (or half a year)
  • parents will be able to take parental leave pay in blocks (such as one day at a time) with periods of work in between
  • PLP must be taken within two years of the child’s date of the birth
  • a “use it or lose it” approach is taken with this type of leave

What you need to do moving forward

Your organisation will need to understand the impact of the planned increases to the combined PLP and DAPP entitlement. Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that your employee handbook and internal structures, systems and procedures reflect the changes and applicable timeframes.

Information sessions should be provided on a regular basis to:

  • the HR team to ensure proper compliance with these requirements
  • managers who are involved in approving leave

Background information

To find out more about these changes:

Do you need advice?

Wurth HR provides advice to businesses to implement processes to manage HR changes such as this one. If you require assistance or have a question on this latest development, please contact David Wurth, Director at Wurth HR.

Email   :  david@wurthhr.com.au
Phone  : 1300 900 741