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Written by Katarina Martinic, Graduate Lawyer under Principal Supervision

2023 has been a big year for employment law reform. As the year comes to a close, we summarise the most recent changes identified by the Fair Work Ombudsman,[1] which aim to “close loopholes” in current legislation, and include the following:

1. Criminalisation of intentional wage theft and non-payment of superannuation

This new criminal offence will come into effect on 1 January 2025 and employers who are found guilty may face imprisonment for up to 10 years or fines over $7 million.

2. Equal pay for labour hire workers

This commenced on 15 December 2023 with some “anti-avoidance provisions” being applied retrospectively from 4 September 2023. The aim of this legislation is to ensure that those performing the same job in a labour hire capacity, are paid the same as those employed by the company.

3. Discrimination protection for employees experiencing family and domestic violence

Employees experiencing family violence will have greater protection against discrimination and adverse action. This substantiates the earlier reforms on paid family violence leave. Employees have ten days family and domestic violence leave each year and now will be protected when exercising this right.

4. More support for emergency workers

Emergency workers with PTSD will have greater access to support mechanisms.

5. Small business redundancy rules

A non-small business is a business with over 15 employees and is subject to strict redundancy laws. Small businesses do not have the same requirements for redundancy. The government has now made it more difficult for larger businesses to claim the small business redundancy exception which previously allowed large businesses to avoid paying redundancies.

6. Other changes that came into force on 15 December 2023 include:

  • Further protection and rights for workplace delegates, including paid training
  • Removal of the need for a Work Health and Safety Officer to hold an entry permit
  • Making industrial manslaughter a criminal offence
  • Broadening the functions of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency to apply to silica.

If you are a business owner, we recommend the following:

  1. Regularly review your policies and procedures;
  2. Make sure your bookkeeper and accountant are briefed on any changes involving pay, superannuation or taxation;
  3. Support employees experiencing family violence. Call 1800 RESPECT for further information;
  4. Speak to a lawyer for advice on your obligations as an employer and if you are unsure about any amendments to workplace legislation.

Contact our office on 03 9585 6455 or email us at to discuss your obligations as an employer and to put into place effective and legal policies and practices.

[1] Closing Loopholes: Fair Work Act changes – Fair Work Ombudsman

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