How HR can prepare for new industrial relations regulations

Lawyer Tamsin Lawrence to speak at HRD’s HR Summit Melbourne

How HR can prepare for new industrial relations regulations

With the raft of recent changes in Australia’s employment law landscape, Tamsin Lawrence, Senior Associate at Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors, will have plenty to discuss at HRD’s upcoming HR Summit Melbourne.

Lawrence will be hosting a session titled ‘What does the Industrial Relations Revolution mean for you?’, where she will detail the priorities for HR leaders when it comes to the reforms.

“We've seen an incredible pace of change in the industrial relations, employment law landscape,” she said.

“We'll briefly cover things like what the positive duty on sexual harassment means, we'll also look at the changes to flexible work requests and what businesses should have done in that space. And then most importantly, on wage compliance and what employers should have done to date.”

HRD’s HR Summit Melbourne will be held at the Crown Conference Centre from 24-25 July.

Lawrence will also discuss the changes that are coming in the rest of this year, such as changes to the Closing the Loopholes bill.   

“We'll look at things like the right to disconnect, what that means; we'll discuss the new definition of casual and also the administrative changes that are, unfortunately, quite technical that anyone who employs a casual is going to need to make sure they implement,” she said.

“We’ll then look at the new definition of employees, which may have a huge impact on anyone who engages independent contractors.”

Last but not least, Lawrence will touch on all the changes around the power and influence of unions in workplaces, she said, “like the new right of entry for suspected underpayments and… delegates’ rights. What does it look like if you ended up having a delegate in your workplace? And what obligations do you have as an employer?”

How HR can prepare

Lawrence identified some of the key areas she believes employers and HR teams need to cover – if they haven’t already – when it comes to the new regulations.

“If they employ a casual or engage independent contractors, there's definitely a compliance assessment that they should be doing before August,” she said. “We’re looking at changes that require this multifactorial assessment process, where you’ve got to weigh up all of these different things – not just look at a contract anymore – but also in practice, how is everything playing out? And that requires quite an in-depth analysis by somebody.”

The other key areas Lawrence mentioned are taking appropriate steps to manage wage compliance amid the new wage theft laws and understanding the risks around the right to disconnect.

“How do you prepare for that?” she said. “If an employee raises the fact that they think someone's contacting them unreasonably, how do you make sure that you're not on the radar of the [Fair Work] Ombudsman?”  

But HR teams who are uncertain about anything should reach out and get advice from a lawyer, Lawrence said.

“Just by nature of the way that the law has been drafted, it isn't something where it's a neat, tick-box exercise or a nice checklist; for most of these laws, it is going to be so contextual,” she told HRD Australia.

“Even the right to disconnect, what is reasonable is going to be entirely contextual, not just down to the type of job or industry you're in but down the individual person and what their personal circumstances might be. So to that end, we'd always recommend, when in doubt, pick up the phone and get a second opinion.”

The HR Summit

The HR Summit will feature a keynote address by Peggy O’Neal AO, Chancellor RMIT University, as well as industry panels and networking opportunities for people in the HR sector.

“With so much going on, it can be very overwhelming at the moment and the great thing about a conference like this is it really can help people in HR distill down what is on their agenda and what isn't,” said Lawrence.

“There's a lot changing but not all businesses, employers and employees are going to be impacted equally. And I think, going to a conference like this can really help you establish what you're affected by as quickly as possible. Because everyone's going be affected by something.”

Recent articles & video

From full-time to casual: 'Struggling' employer converts worker's role without consent

Woolworths fined $1.2-million for underpaying long service leave of employees

Queensland resolves dispute on long service leave entitlements

Ai Group renews call for 'cautions, moderate' approach to wage hike

Most Read Articles

CFMEU, official get higher penalties after unlawful conduct appeal

Queensland resolves dispute on long service leave entitlements

'Confused' worker tries to clarify ‘unclear’ dismissal date