December 6, 2018

Nine major changes to the HR industry

If you’re an employer, your HR obligations have changed in nine important ways already over Financial Year 2019. Being HR consultants, we’ve taken a look at each of them to help you understand everything you need to know.

1. National minimum wage increases by 3.5%

On 1 July 2019, Australia’s minimum wage went up by 3.5%. The national minimum wage is now $712.90 for a 38-hour week: an increase of $24.30 a week from FY2018. This equates to $18.93 an hour. For employers, this is the lowest wage your workers can be paid. Although, if your staff are covered by an Award or Agreement, you’re likely to have to pay more.

2. Single Touch Payroll introduced

The ATO kicked of FY2019 by introducing real-time digital reporting of detailed payroll information for all employers. “Substantial” employers – those with more than 20 staff – had been doing this since April. This means you no longer have to provide employees with a payment summary – they can instead get this automatically from the mygov website. Find out more about what this means for you at the ATO website.

3. Unpaid family and domestic violence leave comes into force

Award-covered employees now have the right to take up to five days unpaid leave each year to deal with instances of family and domestic violence. Read more about this new entitlement on the FairWork website.

4. Casuals can request permanent employment

One change that has really shaken up the HR industry, is that any casual employee covered by an Award who has worked regular hours for a year (that’s 38 hours a week for 12 months) can now ask their employer if they can be transferred to a permanent member of staff. What’s more, as an employer you can only refuse the request on reasonable grounds. This could severe implications if you work in a casual-intensive industry such as retail, so make sure you’re across the changes, speak with your HR consultant and know where you stand with each employee.

5. Casuals and part-timers also have a new minimum engagement

The same Fair Work Commission decision that allows casuals to request permanent status, also grants them a new minimum engagement of two hours each time they’re called in. In HR terms, if you call someone in twice in one day, you’ll need to pay them a minimum of four hours, not the current two hours.

6. Abolition of 457 Visas and changes to other visa requirements

The section 457 Visa is gone, replaced with the Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) Visa. There have also been changes to Australia’s skilled migration program, which has seen the points threshold lifted from 60 to 65. These changes make it harder for employers to rely on overseas-sourced talent, so be sure to look into the requirements if you intend to hire non-Australian staff.

7. Penalty rates change in retail

Penalty rate changes have been a hot topic in the HR industry, since the FWC cut them back in 2017. Now the FWC has made another change – this time affecting only employers and employees covered by the General Retail Industry Award. These changes include:

  • Increasing casual employee penalty rates for shifts worked on a Saturday and weekdays after 6pm, and
  • Reducing penalty rates for casual and permanent staff for shifts worked on a Sunday.

Employers who fall foul of these provisions, face severe fines. So speak with your HR consultant and make sure you know exactly where you stand.

8. Just a week to make termination payments

Another recent FWC determination affects the termination clause in a number of modern Awards. It requires employers to pay any wages or other amounts owning within seven days of employment ending. You can read about which Awards the termination clause changes apply to here.

9. Long Service Leave changes for Victorian employees

From 1 November 2018, Victorian employees can access long service leave entitlements after seven years of continuous employment instead of the previous 10 years. An employee can now count periods of parental leave towards their continuous service, so long as they don’t exceed 12 months. This is great news for Victoria’s employees but it’s a whole new liability for the State’s employers which you’ll need to take into account, so make sure you speak with your HR consultant.

Major shake up of the HR industry

What do you think of these changes? Does this affect your HR department? They could be having a real impact on your business and employees. If you would like us to discuss these changes further, then speak with one of the Catalina Consultant team today.

say hi to our author

Merilyn founded Catalina Consultants in 2012 on the belief that all organisations, regardless of size, should have access to top quality bespoke HR services. She enjoys working closely with her clients and believes that the best results are built on relationships of rapport, trust and authenticity. Growing up, Merilyn had her sight set on stardom and dreamed of becoming an actor. She also sang and played the piano, but ended up studying accounting and HR. Whilst she hasn’t won her Grammy just yet, she still loves a good karaoke night. Merilyn loves to travel with her family, with South Africa being one of her most memorable destinations.

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