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The HR and IR Landscape in 2024


Changes to industrial relations regulations might be a headache for business owners, but the reality is that a lapse in keeping up to date with new legislation can be a costly mistake.


Committee for Echuca Moama (C4EM) hosted a breakfast at Echuca Workers on Wednesday to learn about the HR and IR Landscape in 2024.


Run by HR Blueprint’s Maureen Kyne, an industrial relations expert, HR strategist, speaker, coach and facilitator, it was the perfect opportunity to hear about the changes to legislation and regulation impacting regional Australian businesses.


“The most significant industrial relations changes in more than a decade are here,” Maureen said. “Employees have more entitlements and rights, expect more flexibility and have a new attitude to work in the post-covid era.


“This can be daunting and stressful for business leaders to address, but not if you have the systems and policies in place.”


The morning included updates on:

Right to disconnect: This grants employees with the power to decline work-related communication outside of their designated work hours.

Employers were urged to:

  •  Review their current work hours and communication needs with their employees;

  • Clearly define regular working hours for employees;

  • Create a Right to Disconnect Policy;

  • Set clear guidelines for exercising the Right to Disconnect;

  • Determine reasonable out-of-hours communications, like shift changes or work location updates.

  • Ensure managers lead by example.

Criminal consequence of Wage Theft: “There is a state of confusion at the moment because Victoria had its own wage theft laws, but they are about to be repealed because there is now a federal law replacing it,” Maureen said.

Added to this is the assumption that paying above the ‘award wage’ doesn’t necessarily cover an employer from wage theft once weekend work and after hours wages are taken into consideration.

Businesses are urged to:

·        Review their obligations with respect to employee entitlements under the Act and industrial agreements;

·        Underpayment issues often arise around unpaid allowances, calculating penalties for casuals and applying loadings. Do a sample audit with a trusted services provider.

·        Conduct a review of their wage deduction regime and seek advice on whether it meets the current statutory regime and the proposed amendments to the Bill.

Respect@Work Legislation: The Respect at Work Amendment Act aims to ensure more workers are protected and empowered to address unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace.

Victoria's Workplace Manslaughter Laws: The Victorian Government has outlined clear workplace responsibilities under the industrial manslaughter laws. There are key steps and responsibilities for businesses which include Duty Holders; Negligence Defined; Causation; Scope of Application; Proactive Measures; Education and Support.

New union rights from Closing the Loopholes Act: The Bill gives union delegates and officials wide-ranging powers to represent other employees, regardless of whether those workers even want to join a union. From a practical perspective, this has enormous implications for how businesses engage with their workforces.

Maureen believes being prepared with policies in place is the best way forward for businesses.

“The key is really good communication with employees. If you have an open door policy where people feel comfortable, you’re doing the right thing by them, and creating a safe place to work,” Maureen said.

For more information on HR and IR regulations, visit HR Blueprint’s website HR Blueprint – Elevate your culture with Trust Driven Performance™




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