From 29 December 2013, parents will be entitled to take concurrent parental leave of 8 weeks, a large increase from the previous entitlement of 3 weeks. Furthermore, any employee’s entitlement to unpaid parental leave will not be reduced by any amount of unpaid special maternity leave taken by an eligible employee.
Flexible Working Arrangements
From 29 December 2013 the criteria of employees who will be entitled to request flexible working arrangements will include parents of a child who is of school age, carers, employees with a disability, employees over 55 years of age and employees experiencing or, providing support for an immediate family member experiencing violence from a member of their family.
The changes also expressly provide that if an employee is a parent or guardian of a child, who is returning to work after taking a period of leave in connection with the birth or adoption of the child, the employee has the ability to request a change in work arrangements to assist in caring for the child.
Consultation Regarding Rosters and Working Hours
On 1 January 2014, changes will take effect in respect of rosters and working hours. The amendments will require modern awards and consultation clauses in enterprise agreements to include a term that requires employers to genuinely consult employees regarding any changes to the employee’s regular rosters or ordinary hours of work, particularly in relation to family and carer responsibilities.
Transfer to a Safe Job
Previously, the Fair Work Act provided that a pregnant employee would only be entitled to transfer to a safe job if they had been employed with the workplace for more than 12 months.
The changes to the Act, which will come into effect on 29 December 2013, will introduce that all pregnant employees, (who comply with the evidence requirements), will be entitled to receive a transfer to a safe job or paid leave, if no safe job is available.
In light of the amendments briefly detailed above, Affinity Lawyers strongly recommend that all employers consider whether their employment agreements need to be updated to reflect the amendments. Any employers requiring assistance in this matter, are encouraged to contact our Gold Coast Employment Lawyers on 5563 8970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.