Secure Jobs, Better Pay: What You Need To Know About the March Amendments

3 March 2023

From 6 March 2023, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) will be amended by the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 (Cth) (Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act) to prohibit sexual harassment within the workplace. Two new Expert panels will also be created at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to focus on pay equity and the care and community sector.

Prohibition of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment related to employment, including in the workplace, will be prohibited from 6 March 2023 as the FWC have expanded their powers to deal with disputes regarding sexual harassment. These expanded powers include the FWC having the right to arbitrate a dispute by consent. The expanded powers add to the existing “stop sexual harassment” orders the FWC can currently make.

Protection will apply to all workers, including employees, contractors and volunteers. Future employees, i.e., someone going through the recruitment process, as well as anyone conducting a business or undertaking will also be protected under the FW Act. Protections will not apply to sexual harassment of a worker that was experienced before 6 March 2023.

Under these amendments, a company or employer will also be vicariously liable for any sexual harassment acts committed by an employee or worker in connection with their employment, unless the company or employer can prove that they took “all reasonable steps” to prevent the sexual harassment from taking place.

In circumstances whereby the FWC cannot resolve a dispute, the worker or party affected by sexual harassment will be able to pursue civil proceedings.

New Expert Panels

The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act will establish 2 new Expert panels for pay equity and the care and community secure to determine equal remuneration cases and certain modern award cases. These expert panels will have responsibility for making certain determinations, EROs, awards and award variations.

If you would like more information in regard to the March amendments of the Fair Work Act, please contact Catie via the link below.