Legislative update: What you need to know from 1 July 2018
By Victoria Hansen and Lindsay Carroll, NRA Legal
Penalty rate cuts
Following a Fair Work Commission decision handed down last year, Sunday penalty rates for employees covered by the General Retail Industry Award, the Fast Food Industry Award, the Hospitality Industry (General) Award and Pharmacy Industry Award will reduce from 1 July 2018.
Penalty rates forfull time and part time employees working in retail on Sundays will reduce from 195% to 180%. Penalty rates for casual employees working in retail on Sundays will reduce from 195% to 185%.,
For those employees working in fast food on Sundays, penalty rates will reduce from 145% to 135%
Last month, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Restoring Penalty Rates) Bill 2018 to effectively reverse penalty rate cuts. . The NRA will keep its members updated on the progress of this bill before parliament.
Increase to the minimum wage
The new national minimum wage will increase to $719.20 per week or $18.93 per hour from 1 July 2018. The increase applies from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2018, so if your pay week is from Monday to Sunday, the new rates will take effect on Monday 2 July 2018.
The new rates will only apply to employees whose rates of pay derive from;
- the national minimum wage; or
- a modern award.
The increase only affects minimum base rates of pay in modern awards. Accordingly, those employees who are already getting paid more than the new base rate of pay do not have to receive an increase. If an enterprise agreement covers your workforce, you should ensure the rates payable under the agreement are higher than the minimum base rates prescribed in any corresponding award.
To obtain a copy of our updated wage summaries, members are encouraged to visit our member portal here.
New Fair Work Information Statement
A new Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS) was published on 1 July 2018 with amendments providing greater clarity and improved readability.
Employers are required to provide a FWIS to all new employees before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job. The FWIS contains information about the National Employment Standards and provides new employees with information about their conditions of employment.
The updated version of the Fair Work Information Statement can be found here.
Additionally, the Fair Work Ombudsman has advised that a substantial review of the statement will commence later in the year. If you have any feedback in relation to the content or form of the current FWIS, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Fair Work Commission fees and high income threshold
From 1 July 2018, the filing fee for dismissal, general protections and anti-bullying applications made under sections 365, 372, 394, 773 and 789FC of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) will increase to $71.90.
Further, the high income threshold in unfair dismissal cases has increased to $145,400 and the compensation cap to $72,700.
Single touch payroll
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) have introduced the Single Touch Payroll (STP) from 1 July 2018. If you employ 20 or more employees (as at 1 April 2018), STP-approved payroll software will report to the ATO each time you pay your employees on the details of your employees’ salaries or wages, allowances, deductions, PAYG withholding and superannuation. You should ensure that your electronic payroll provider is STP approved.
Subject to the passage of legislation, STP will be expanded to include employers with 19 or less employees from 1 July 2019.
Queensland industrial manslaughter laws
Under changes which commenced in Queensland on 1 July 2018, a person conducting a business or undertaking must either comply with an approved code of practice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (WHS Act) or demonstrate that equal to or better measures are taken.
The new offence captures a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), or a senior officer, who is found to have negligently caused the death of a worker in Queensland.
A maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual, or $10 million for a body corporate, applies.
Country of origin food labelling
If your business grows, produces, manufactures, distributes, imports or sells food in retail stores in Australia, you will need to comply with new Country of Origin Labelling laws which came into effect on 1 July 2018. New food labels must be displayed on all food products sold in Australian supermarkets or retail outlets.
From 1 July 2018, the goods and services tax (GST) will apply to retail sales of low value physical goods ($1000 or less) that have been imported to Australia and sold to consumers.
If your business meets the $75,000 GST registration threshold and sells low value physical goods that have been imported, you’ll need to:
- ensure you are registered for GST;
- charge GST to customers on low value imported goods (unless they are GST-free);
- lodge a return to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).