Minimum wage increase
The Fair Work Commission has handed down its decision to increase the national minimum wage by 3% or $19.49 per hour for adults effective 1 July 2019. On that basis, we encourage employers to compare their current rates under any Enterprise Agreement and ensure compliance with the Federal national minimum increase. To review the decision handed down by the Commission, click here
Changes to unfair dismissal criteria and filling fee increase
The following changes will commence on 1 July 2019:
- the high-income threshold in unfair dismissal cases will increase to $148,700 (currently $145,400);
- the compensation limit will increase to $74,350 (currently $72,700) for post July 1 dismissal claims; and
- the filling fee for dismissal, unlawful termination, general protections and anti-bullying applications will increase to $73.20 per application.
To review the changes, click here
Review of Australia’s employment laws
PM Morrison has asked IR Minister, Christian Porter to review Australia’s current employment and industrial laws, calling for ‘evidence-based’ changes to protect the ‘rights and entitlements of workers’ and have ‘clear gains for the economy and for working Australians’. These changes include the Government’s commitment to reintroduce legislation to target ‘militant unions’ with the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2017 (Ensuring Integrity Bill) resuming on 1 July 2019. More information will be provided as it becomes available. To read the Ensuring Integrity Bill, click here
Uber Drivers’ position maintained in Australia
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), after a two-year investigation scrutinising the relationship between Uber Australia Pty Ltd and its drivers, concluded, on balance, that Uber drivers are contractors as opposed to employees.
Relevantly, the FWO found that ‘the courts have determined that there must be, at a minimum, an obligation for an employee to perform work when it is demanded by the employer’ which is distinguished from the existing commercial arrangement of Uber such that drivers ‘have control over whether, when, and for how long they perform work, on any given day or on any given week’.
Whilst the position on Uber remains unchanged in Australia, the FWO will continue to investigate non-compliance reports that may arise within alternative gig economy platforms. To read the full decision of the FWO, click here
Conciliators’ role in arbitration if party objects
The CFMMEU alleged in Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union v Watpac Construction Pty Ltd t/a Watpac Construction  FWCFB 3855, that Commissioner Hunt’s comments regarding the health and safety concerns raised during conciliation, had provided grounds for her recusal on grounds of apprehended bias.
In considering the CFMMEU’s appeal, the Full Bench observed that whilst the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) does not preclude a member of the Commission from arbitrating a dispute if that member was previously involved in conciliation proceedings about the same matter, it is contrary to public policy considerations and it would be inappropriate for a Commissioner to continue to arbitrate the same matter.
On that basis, although the appeal was dismissed, the Full Bench encouraged the Commissioner to have regard to the observations made and ‘whether it would be preferable to arrange for the matter to be reallocated to another member of the Commission for arbitration’. To read the full decision of the FWO, click here