Recruitment: Changes to Fair Work Act impact on rural labour

Beef Central, 22/02/2013


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Employers across all rural industries may want to take note of the new changes to Federal workplace laws, which could see some flow-on effects on their workforce.

Last week, Federal employment and workplace relations minister Bill Shorten announced that the government would be making changes to the Fair Work Act so more Australian workers have the right to ask for flexible working arrangements.

Currently, this right is limited to parents with responsibility for children under school age, or children with disabilities who are under 18.

However, the changes will see this right being extended to include a larger section of the Australian workforce – with the right to request a flexible arrangement being made available to:

  • Workers with caring responsibilities
  • Employees who are parents or who are responsible for taking care of a school-age child
  • Employees with disability
  • Mature-age employees
  • Any workers experiencing family violence, or offering support to an immediate member of the family or household who is suffering family violence.

As it stands now, employers are only able to refuse requests for flexible arrangements on "reasonable business grounds" and this will not be changing – but employers can look forward to more detail from the government in future about exactly what these business grounds include.

"The independent panel that reviewed the Fair Work Acts last year found the current provisions in the National Employment Standards for requesting flexible work arrangements were working effectively," Mr Shorten said in an earlier statement.

"However, the panel noted that many workers weren't aware of their rights to request flexible work arrangements and recommended that more workers should be able to access the right."

According to Mr Shorten, the changes will work both ways, so both employers and employees will see the benefits – with more discussion around work arrangements, employers will be able to retain their skilled and experienced staff, and employees will have the benefit of more support in this area.




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