As we begin a new financial year, employers should keep in mind the key employment law changes that will impact their organisation from today, 1 July 2020. In this update, we outline the most recent developments in relation to:
- Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Act 2020
- Annual Wage Review Decision
- Changes to high-income threshold for unfair dismissal claims
- The Rossato Decision
Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Act 2020
As of 1 July 2020, changes to paid parental leave will commence. Eligible persons will be provided with "more flexibility" to use and extend parental leave pay (PLP).
Currently under the Paid Parental Leave Act, an eligible person is entitled to 18 weeks' paid parental leave. Eligible persons are paid in instalments by their employer or the Australian Government at the national minimum wage. Eligible persons may only take the PLP in one continuous block of up to 18 weeks, and it must be claimed within 12 months of the birth or adoption of their child.
From 1 July 2020, under the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Act 2020, eligible persons will be entitled to an initial 12 weeks' PLP period. The eligible persons are then entitled to a second "flexible" PLP period of up to 30 business days.
The initial continuous 12 weeks' PLP can be taken within the first 12 months after the birth or adoption of the child. However, the flexible 30 business days can be claimed on any flexible PLP day within the 24-month period after the birth or adoption of a child (i.e. before the child's second birthday), including in a six-week block immediately after the initial 12-week period. The eligible person's total period of 18 weeks' PLP remains the same, and the rate of pay under the national minimum wage will remain unchanged.
Annual Wage Review Decision
On 19 June 2020, the Fair Work Commission handed down the 2020 Annual Wage Review Decision. An outline of the fundamentals follows:
The increase in modern award wage rates will commence at different times depending on the industry:
Employers who are currently paying employees above the new minimum rate for their award classifications are not required to change those rates unless they have arranged to do so.
Changes to high-income threshold for unfair dismissal claims
From 1 July 2020 the:
- high-income threshold for unfair dismissal claims will increase from $148,700 to $153,600 (this limits an employee's eligibility to pursue an unfair dismissal claim if they earn more than the threshold, unless they are covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement)
- maximum compensation for an unfair dismissal, under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is six months' pay and increases from $74,350 to $76,800
WorkPac has sought special leave to the High Court to appeal the Full Court of the Federal Court's decision about casual employment and leave entitlements in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato  FCAFC 84.
Industrial Relations Minister, Christian Porter has confirmed that the government would intervene in the appeal, if special leave to appeal is granted. Minister Porter emphasised, "Given the potential for this decision to further weaken the economy at a time when so many Australians have lost their jobs, it may also be necessary to consider legislative options".
Authors: Aaron Goonrey, Partner; Emma Lutwyche, Senior Associate; Gemma Weller, Graduate; Taylor Horrell, Graduate
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