Changes coming in for contractors, first responders
In a significant development, the Australian government has acceded to crossbench demands, resulting in a division of its expansive industrial relations bill.
As part of this compromise, first responders will see streamlined access to compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while contractors will be entitled to the same pay as their full-time counterparts in identical roles, all expected to take effect in the coming weeks, according to ABC News.
Last month, crossbench senators David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie raised concerns about the government's attempts to hasten workplace changes, prompting them to introduce their own bill. This bill aimed to pave the way for Labor to pass the uncontroversial aspects of its industrial relations (IR) proposal, particularly the PTSD compensation, which received Senate approval with the backing of the Coalition, said the news outlet.
And a deal struck ahead of the final sitting day resulted in the Australian Labor Party agreed to split its plans, with crossbench support for its contentious "same pay for same work" provisions.
Pay and condition changes
Effective from the next year, labor hire loopholes will be closed, mandating equivalent pay and conditions for employees hired through labor hire firms performing the same work as full-time company employees. The new laws also guarantee that employees, regardless of business size, will not miss out on redundancy payments, said ABC News.
Significantly, first responders, including members of the Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police, ambulance officers, paramedics, emergency services communications operators, and firefighters, will find it easier to obtain workers' compensation for PTSD starting January 1.
The laws also aim to offer workplace protections for individuals experiencing family and domestic violence, said ABC News.
The federal government is proposing new laws that could see employers deliberately underpaying workers facing jail time. The proposed changes include a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and fines up to $7.8 million or three times the underpaid amount, said the news outlet.
Industrial manslaughter will also become a criminal offense under the proposed amendments.