Prepare now for the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill

Peter Stewart

Assisted by Ambrose Teo

Status Update

In our previous Update, we briefly outlined key considerations for franchisors regarding their workplace obligations under the proposed Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill. Since then, the proposed legislation has passed the House of Representatives and is now being considered in the Senate.

Whilst it has not passed as law, a snapshot of some of the commentary surrounding the proposed legislation serves as a timely reminder of the wide-reaching ramifications this proposed Act will have - not only on employers but on franchisors and the franchise system as a whole. Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter commented:

“While we recognise that the vast majority of employers in Australia do the right thing by their workers, the bill will more effectively deter those employers who do underpay workers and impose significant penalties for deliberate and systemic breaches and the underpayment of workers. There are too many cases of widespread exploitation of vulnerable workers in Australia. They have shown the extent of a problem within some businesses, and this cannot continue.”

It has been made clear that since the high-profile cases with companies such as 7-Eleven, Caltex and Dominos for the underpayment of employees, the proposed Act has gained momentum and will likely be enacted in due course.

What happens next?

In anticipation of the Bill passing through the Senate, franchisors must be aware of the suite of changes and the potential impact on their franchise business, irrespective of its size. It’s important that franchisors are proactive and implement processes, procedures and policies which protect their rights and, more importantly, ensure compliance with the proposed Act.

As mentioned in our pervious publication, franchisors shouldn’t wait to prepare for the changes and given that the Bill is now before the Senate, there is no better time to begin devising a compliance strategy.

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