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Navigating Change: Key Regulatory Updates to Look out for in 2024 

16/02/2024by admin0Read: 4 minutes

As we embark on the journey through 2024, the business terrain in Australia is set for significant shifts with key regulatory updates on the horizon. Staying ahead of these changes is not merely an option; it’s a strategic imperative for organisations aiming to thrive amidst uncertainty.

This blog explores the pivotal regulatory updates that will shape the business environment in Australia throughout 2024. From privacy reforms to amendments in worker entitlement laws and transformative decisions in workplace relations, we’ll delve into the details businesses need to be acutely aware of. Join us on this insightful exploration, as we navigate the nuanced landscape of regulatory change and its profound implications for organisations in the coming year.

Key Regulatory Updates to Look Out for in 2024

We have encapsulated all the key regulatory updates to look out for in 2024

1) Revised Workplace Exposure Standard for Welding Fumes:

  • Work Health and Safety Ministers have unanimously endorsed an immediate reduction in the workplace exposure standard (WES) for welding fumes (not otherwise classified). The 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) has been adjusted from 5 mg/m3 to 1 mg/m3.

2) Amendments to the ‘Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Code of Practice’:

  • Recent amendments to the ‘Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Code of Practice‘ by Safe Work Australia emphasise empowering workers and fostering a culture centered on respect. These changes underscore the importance of health and safety dialogues, proactive risk management, and trauma-informed training initiatives.

3) Data Privacy Act:

  • In response to the proposed Privacy Act report in September 2023, the Australian government has agreed to numerous proposals aiming to strengthen privacy laws. The reform, scheduled for 2024, focuses on securing customer data from cyber-attacks, urging businesses to be prepared and demonstrate commitment to consumer data privacy.

4) Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023:

  • Enacted on June 22, 2023, this amendment brings significant changes to the Fair Work Act, aiming to fortify worker entitlements and enhance employment standards. Key amendments include enhanced protection for migrant workers, closing the gender pay gap, and introducing a provision for superannuation in the National Employment Standards.
  • Effective Date for Gender Pay Gap Reporting:

  • On March 30, 2023, the Federal Parliament enacted the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (WEGA) (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Act 2023, introducing crucial changes that employers must familiarise themselves with to ensure compliance.
  • The legislative alterations bring forth new mandatory reporting obligations for specific employers. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (Agency) has been bestowed with the authority to publicly disclose employer gender pay gap information, aiming to spur targeted initiatives and foster organisational transformation.
  • Starting April 1, 2024, certain employers, including registered higher education institutions and entities employing 100 or more individuals, must comply with new reporting obligations.
  • Right to Superannuation in the National Employment Standards:

  • Effective January 1, 2024, the National Employment Standards now include provisions for superannuation contributions, allowing legal enforcement of unpaid or underpaid superannuation for a broader spectrum of employees.
  • Casual Employees in the Coal Mining Industry:

  • Recent amendments address long-service leave entitlements for casual employees in the black coal mining sector, explicitly stating the inclusion of casual loading in long-service leave payouts and revising the mechanism for accruing long-service leave.
  • Employee Authorised Deductions:

  • As of December 30, 2023, new regulations govern employee-authorised deductions, requiring written permission for deductions from pay. Employers are allowed to make deductions only when they predominantly benefit the employee.

5) Workplace Relations and (WHS) Ministers’ Meeting on Engineered Stone Prohibition and Labour Hire Harmonisation:

  • Workplace Relations and Work Health and Safety (WHS) Ministers made crucial decisions focusing on Engineered Stone Prohibition and Labour Hire Harmonisation.

Engineered Stone Prohibition:

  • Prohibition will be effective from July 1, 2024, with exceptions for legacy products and trace crystalline silica levels. Customs prohibition was enacted for engineered stone border enforcement.

Labour Hire Harmonisation:

  • Ministers endorse a harmonized approach to national labour hire regulation, with the next steps including the development of an Intergovernmental Agreement and a project office. Victoria is tentatively set to host, pending a funding agreement.

6) Fair Work’s Recent Amendment – ‘Right to Disconnect Law’

Now employees can disconnect from the office or choose to not respond to work emails during out-of-office hours as per the ‘Right to Disconnect Law’.

Proposed revisions to the Fair Work Act 2009 aim to restrict employers from engaging with employees beyond standard work hours and establish that employees are not obligated to monitor, read, or respond to work-related communications from their employer outside of the designated work hours.

It can also amount to penalties to employers if they force employees to communicate outside office hours.

However, the penalty part has become a reason for discussion and the government has plans to amend it.

7) Australian Government Plan to Amend ‘Right to Disconnect Law’

The Australian government plans to amend recently passed right-to-disconnect laws to avert criminal penalties for employers contacting employees after working hours. The industrial relations reform, which recently cleared the upper house, grants workers the right to ignore out-of-hours calls and emails without facing penalties. Introduced during negotiations by the Greens, the legislation could impose an $18,000 fine on employers continuously contacting employees after work hours. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese acknowledged the need to “fix up” the laws, intending to address the issues through separate legislation before the new rules take effect. The changes also include rights for casual workers to seek permanence and gig workers’ minimum standards.

So, these were the key regulatory updates to look out for in 2024 in Australia.

These legislative updates highlight the evolving business landscape, necessitating proactive measures from organisations to ensure compliance and uphold the rights and safety of their workforce. A proactive approach not only mitigates risks but positions businesses to thrive amid change.

Anitech’s experienced team of consultants can help organisations stay current with the regulatory updates in 2024.

Call us today to collaborate at 1300 802 163 or e-mail – sales@anitechgroup.com.

For more information, keep coming back to our website.

Stay informed, stay compliant, and stay ahead.

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