Important amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 have now come into effect. While several proposed amendments were jettisoned in the Senate, the Bill as finally passed does result in significant changes. Employers in particular should take note of the following amendments.

New process for negotiating greenfields agreements

A new process for negotiating greenfields agreements has been established. Employers now have an obligation to bargain in good faith in greenfields negotiations. The new process includes an optional six month negotiation timeframe. This allows an employer, who has given appropriate notice, to apply to the Fair Work Commission for a determination if the parties are unable to reach an agreement within six months.

Protected industrial action

Employees can no longer ‘strike first, talk later’. Employees’ ‘right to strike’ is not permitted unless bargaining has commenced and there is a majority support from all employees.

Unpaid parental leave

Employers now have an obligation to discuss with employees a request for extending a period of unpaid parental leave. An extension request must not be refused unless the employer has given the employee a reasonable opportunity to discuss the request.

To discuss this further, or for more information, please contact:

Jim Rutherford
Principal
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5226 8579
E: jrutherford@harwoodandrews.com.au

Sonia McCabe
Senior Associate
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5226 8558
E: smccabe@harwoodandrews.com.au