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Employment law update: Fair Work Information Statement

Gene Schirripa

04 Feb 2020

Topics

  • Employment Law

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently updated the Fair Work Information Statement for the first time since 2011. Gene Schirripa explains below what the Statement is and why is has been updated and reminds employers the importance of making sure a Statement is given to every new employee.

What is the Fair Work Information Statement?

The Fair Work Act 2009 sets out the National Employment Standards (NES), which are 10 minimum employment conditions applying to all employees under the Act. Under the NES, the Fair Work Ombudsman produces the Fair Work Information Statement (‘Statement’).

The Statement provides new employees with information about their conditions of employment and, in particular, their rights under the NES. The Statement also contains information relating to modern awards, flexibility agreements, termination and the role of the Fair Work Commission. It is a requirement of the NES that employers give or make available to every employee a copy of the Statement prior to commencing employment.

A copy of the statement can be accessed at the following link: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/national-employment-standards/fair-work-information-statement

Why has it been updated? The Mondelez Decision 

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently updated the Statement for the first time since 2011.

The Statement was updated following the decision of the Full Federal Court of Australia in Modndelez Australia Pty Ltd v AWMU [2019] FCAFC 183 (‘Mondelez Decision’) and concerned the issue of paid personal/carer’s leave.

In the Mondelez Decision, the Full Federal Court determined that:

  • full-time and part-time employees are entitled to 10 working days of paid personal/carer’s leave for each year of employment
  • the leave is designed to protect an employee’s income when they are entitled to be absent from work due to illness or injury (or providing care or support to a family or household member who is ill)
  • the leave is calculated in working days, not hours
  • every period of personal/carer’s leave taken is to be deducted from the employee’s accrued leave balance.

The Mondelez Decision is being challenged in the High Court of Australia. However, the principles above currently stand as law and apply to employers and employees. 

What are my obligations as an employer?

It is requirement of the NES that employers make available to all new employees a copy of the Statement prior to commencing employment. This can include providing employees with a link to the Statement on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

If employers are providing employees with a copy of the Statement, rather than a link to the online version, they need to make sure that it is the updated version being provided.

If an employer does not give an employee a copy of the Statement prior to commencing work, this is a breach of the NES and the Fair Work Act. This can result in a court imposing civil penalties against the employer of up to $64,000 per contravention for companies and up to $12,500 per contravention for individuals.

How can we help?

If you are unsure of your obligations as an employer, our Employment Law team would be happy to assist you in conducting a check of your employment practices to ensure you are compliant. Contact us by email or on 02 6285 8000.

* The content of this article is provided for information purposes only, and we do not accept any liability for reliance upon the information contained in this article.  This information cannot be relied upon as legal advice.