Changes to HR Legislation
Rest and Meal Breaks
Employees are now legally entitled to rest and meal breaks which come attached with provisions
relating to timing and duration.
While the objective of the new legislation is to ensure that employees take sufficient breaks, it is also good for business owners to understand the necessity for these criteria as well.
Some causes of Fatigue in the workplace:
- Prolonged intense physical or mental activity
- Disruption of the internal body clock
- Excessive travel
- Working in extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
- Organisational changes
- Long Shifts
- Lack of recovery times between shifts
- Strenuous labour
- Long commutes
Fatigue may be work-related, or it may be related to one’s personal life – or it could be a combination of the two. It can also be accumulated over time or be a short-term problem.
Fatigue does not just impact the physical and mental health of your employees; it also impacts the health and safety of everyone else in the business. Also, depending on the particular job and responsibilities of the employee, fatigue can put the public at risk. Fatigue causes a lack of focus, slower reaction times to both situations and signals. It also affects an employee’s ability to make sound decisions. This can increase the risk of injuries, incidents, and accidents happening at work. We all play a part in ensuring a safe workplace, and while we commonly think of manual handling and hazards as the most common safety risks we need to address, fatigue is also an important factor to consider.
While you can’t manage the aspects of an employee’s personal life that could be contributing to their fatigue, there are things you can do in the workplace to manage the risk and impacts of fatigue.
Limited 90-day trial periods
If your business has 20 or more employees, you are no longer eligible for 90- day trial periods for employees.
Probationary periods allow for increased scrutiny and management of new hires and can allow you to undertake quicker action against poor-performing new employees. The key difference between 90-day trials and probationary periods is that you have to respect the due process and communicate sound justification for dismissal. Employees are still allowed to raise a personal grievance based on the dismissal during the probationary period if they think it was unfair. Note: Business owners who are still eligible to use 90-day trials will also be required to include it as a clause in their employees’ employment agreements.
Domestic Violence Leave
Additional entitlement and protection for employees affected by domestic violence including eligibility for 10 days paid leave per year, and short-term flexible working arrangements.
Domestic violence is a sensitive matter, so it’s imperative that you exercise a degree of discretion and empathy. It is important to understand that your employee is dealing with an entire spectrum of complex emotions and experiences; and you should not impose your judgement on their experience or offer unsolicited advice.
The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act has added new workplace protections for employees who have been impacted by domestic violence. This may include anything from up to two months of short-term flexible working arrangements, 10 days paid leave (separate from annual, sick, or bereavement leave), to anti-discrimination safeguards. Flexible working arrangements can include:
- a change or complete redaction of contact information from company materials due to the privacy
- implications attached to stored employee details
- a change of duties to accommodate for the circumstances
- work relocation
Collective agreement & collective bargaining
Changes in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill empower unions in the collective bargaining process. It also outlines the entitlements of prospective employees to employers. This means Unions now have increased power to advocate for employee rights, and in some cases, to compel more change.
Union Powers increased
Union representatives now have the right to enter workplaces without the prior consent of the employer if their business satisfies certain criteria.