The Government is expected to introduce the Employment Standards Bill to Parliament later this year. The early information is that Government is looking to enhance the range of measures and penalties available for the enforcement of minimum employment standards.
The purpose of this proposed legislation is to discourage the minority of ‘rogue’ Employers who may intentionally seek to avoid meeting their minimum employment obligations and to exploit their (often vulnerable) employees.
While the vast majority of employers already comply with minimum employment standards in most situations, there may be situations where minimum employment standards are not consistently met. Being able to clearly demonstrate compliance through clear, well-maintained wage, time, leave and holidays records will likely be areas of focus, particularly in relation to employers of seasonal or variable work-pattern employees.
The measures being proposed include tougher sanctions by way of fines, publicly naming employers found to be in breach and the possibility of individuals being banned from being an employer.
Similar to what is happening around Health and Safety, Government is looking at the role Directors, Senior Managers, Independent Advisers and other corporate entities play. The proposal is to target individuals for prosecution if they knowingly and intentionally allow, instruct or enable an employer to breach employment standards. These prosecutions may be pursued even where the employer ceases to exist.
There is also a proposal to change how minimum employment standards cases are dealt with so that mediation can be bypassed where appropriate, and to also allow employees to seek penalties for any minimum entitlement breach. The latter is a change from the current situation where employees can only seek penalties for breaches of the Wages Protection Act.
We will keep you posted as this Bill proceeds. If you need assistance to ensure you are currently meeting minimum employment standards and that your record-keeping systems and processes are meeting your obligations contact the Grow HR team on 06 878 5454.