As of 1 July 2024, significant legislative changes impacting Australians have come into effect. Below is a snapshot of the important rates, thresholds, limits and workplace laws now applicable and tips for employers to ensure compliance:

Wage and remuneration changes

Employment-related matters increase in Modern Award minimum wage raise – a 3.75% increase from the previous year for adult employees. Other award wages, including junior apprentice and supported wages that are based on adult minimum wages will receive a proportionate increase.

Increase in National Minimum Wage (for employees not covered by an award or registered agreement) – up to $915.90 (38 hour) week, or $24.10 per hour.

Employers to consider

  • implementing the new minimum wage rate obligations
  • update their payroll systems and
  • adjust expense and revenue budgets accordingly.

Employers may also issue letters to employees confirming the change and a review of and updating existing employment contracts.

Parental leave changes

Other considerations for employers include the increase to Parental Leave Pay to 22 weeks and the increase to the amount of unpaid flexible parental leave for children born or placed for adoption.

Fixed term contract exceptions

Additional temporary exceptions to the use of fixed term contracts have been extended in some industries, namely:

  • Organised sport, high performance sport, live performance – until 1 November 2025
  • Higher education – until 1 January 2025

Numerical changes on caps, thresholds, brackets and noteworthy introductions

In short summary, the following have also been updated.

Caps & thresholds:

  • Unfair dismissal compensation cap increase – now $87,500
  • High income threshold – now $175,000
  • Tax-free limit for genuine redundancy payments increase – $12,524 base limit, $6264 for each completed year of service
  • Increase in Superannuation guarantee rate – now 11.5% (up from 11%)

Employer note: Employers should make these superannuation-related adjustments and review any existing salary sacrificing arrangement involving superannuation payments with their employees.

  • Concessional contributions caps now $30,000 (up from $27,500)

New tax brackets:

  • Earn up to $18,200 – pay no tax
  • Pay a 16 per cent tax rate on each dollar earned between $18,201-$45,000
  • Pay a 30 per cent tax rate on each dollar earned between $45,001-$135,000
  • Pay a 37 per cent tax rate on each dollar earned between $135,001 to $190,000
  • Pay a 45 per cent tax rate on each dollar earned above $190,000.

Other noteworthy introductions:

  • A new industrial manslaughter offence introduced – carrying a maximum penalty of 25 years’ prison for individuals and $18 million fines for bodies corporate of the Commonwealth
  • Introduction of delegate’s right clauses in modern awards. Also any enterprise agreement made post 1 July must include a delegate’s rise clause that is no less beneficial for employees compared to the modern award clause. These provisions give additional rights to employee delegates including:
    • Representing the industrial interest of eligible employees in a wide range of workplace matters including changes to rosters or hours of work, consultation about workplace change, disciplinary processes, enterprise bargaining, dispute resolution.
    • Communication with eligible employees during work hours, work breaks, or before after work
    • Access to a private room or area for discussions with eligible employees, p notice board, email account for communication purposes, secure document storage area, office facilities and equipment
    • Paid time off during working hours, depending on size of employer’s business and total number of eligible employees
  • Right of entry exemption certificates – the Fair Work Commission now has the authority to issue right of entry exemption certificates allowing permit holders to enter worksites without the usual 24 hours’ written notice if the purpose of their entry is to investigation suspected wage underpayment issues.
    • Employers should prepare for the possibility of unannounced visits by union representatives and ensure their payroll and record-keeping practices are legally compliant. Regular audits and wage practice reviews will help mitigate risks associated with wage underpayment

Further updates expected

From 26 August 2024, there will also be further updates:

  • A new definition to help determine the meaning of ‘employee’ and ‘employer’
  • Changes to casual employment including definition of casual, the pathway to permanent employment, and employee and employer responsibilities
  • A new right to disconnect for eligible employees (which doesn’t apply to small businesses until 26 August 2025).
    • Eligible employees have the right to refuse employer or third-party contact outside of working hours.
  • New minimum standards and protections for ‘employee-like workers’ in the gig economy and certain industries

Need assistance on employment-related matters?

Our employment lawyers can assist businesses and employees to navigate these workplace updates and changes. Please contact us on 1300-862-529 to book a consultation with one of our employment team today.

This update was written by Fran Keyes.