‘Closing Loopholes’ Number 2 passes Parliament

12 February 2024

The Federal Government’s latest tranche of Fair Work changes have been passed. Here’s a summary of the changes and how they will affect members:

Right to disconnect

Workers will be able to ignore calls, emails or messages after work hours, where reasonable, and will not be able to be punished for it. You can contact workers in emergencies, to communicate any changes with work hours or locations, or where workers are paid a premium to be available out of hours.

Casual conversion

Casuals who have worked for six months, or 12 in the case of a small business, and have had a regular pattern of work can seek to convert to a permanent role. You can refuse on “fair and reasonable operational grounds”. Where there are disputes, the Fair Work Commission will resolve any disputes.

Definition of employment

Employment will be defined in the Fair Work Act, and the courts must have regard to the “reality” of the relationship when considering if independent contractors are really employees, and so entitled to backpay for minimum wages and conditions. However the Act also creates an arrangement whereby a business and independent contractor have the ability to ‘opt-out’ from the potential application of this new provision. This is done either through the business notifying the contractor that they could be deemed an “employee”, with the contractor then having a set period to ‘opt out’, or by the contractor giving notice at any time giving notice that they want to ‘opt-out’.

The changes will not take effect immediately and will be phased in over the coming months.

Master Builders will provide additional information to members in the coming weeks about the changes, however if you wish to discuss these changes now or require clarification please contact the Workplace Relations team.

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