2 July 2009
Helping hand for Small Business
The Fair Work Ombudsman is developing a best practice guide specifically aimed at helping small business.
The guide - “Preparing Small Business for the Fair Work Act” – is currently being circulated to key stakeholders for comment.
The guide aims to assist small to medium Australian businesses with their rights and obligations under the new Act.
Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says the guide is one of a series being developed by the new Agency to both inform employees and employers alike about their respective rights and obligations, as well as to inspire and encourage them to operate at best practice.
Mr Wilson says a new specialist education team within FWO has been charged with assisting to build more co-operative, harmonious and productive Australian workplaces.
“Beyond its direct coal face educative service to small and medium sized businesses, this team will be crucial in identifying common information and education gaps and helping to develop and deliver targeted solutions,” he said.
The Fair Work Act 2009 requires businesses, particularly small businesses, to make a number of operational changes.
From July 1, small business needs to comply with new unfair and unlawful dismissal laws, agreement making provisions, transfer of business rules and workplace rights actions.
Mr Wilson says the Best Practice Guide will explain the new safety net of minimum employment conditions, about bargaining in good faith at the enterprise level, new obligations to keep records and provide pay slips, the new unfair dismissal laws and new protections for employees and obligations of employers.
It also sets out the functions of Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.
FWA is the new “one stop shop” for employers and employees and is responsible for helping them resolve disputes and determining unfair dismissal claims.
FWO will work alongside FWA to help educate and inform employers and employees as well as investigating and ensuring compliance with workplace laws, with powers to prosecute for breaches.
Mr Wilson says the FWO can help workers and employers to understand the changes to Australia’s national workplace relations laws taking effect from yesterday.
The new laws describe the rights and rules people have at work.
Mr Wilson says the changes affect around 85 per cent of Australian workplaces covered by national legislation, including all businesses in Victoria and the Territories. Many of these workplaces employ less than 25 employees.
Some of these rights and rules are about:
- what employees should get paid
- leave entitlements and work conditions
- records employers need to keep
- how employees and employers can get help if they have a problem at work
- not discriminating on the basis of race, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.
Who can help?
There are two new organisations that give information and advice to help employees and employers resolve workplace disputes.
Fair Work Australia:
- varies awards
- makes minimum wage orders
- approves agreements
- investigates unfair dismissal claims
- makes orders on things like good faith bargaining and industrial action.
The Fair Work Ombudsman:
- promotes harmonious, productive and co-operative workplace relations
- produces best practice guides
- monitors compliance and investigates breaches of national workplace laws
- publishes information on things like the national employment standards, modern awards, agreement making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment
- offers a specialist information and assistance unit for small-to medium-sized businesses.
Need more information?
- Contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.
- For translations, contact 131 450.
- Visit the website – www.fairwork.gov.au
Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484
Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924