Pay secrecy, job ads and flexible work

Banner illustration with text reading, 'Secure Jobs, Better Pay'Published 12 December 2022 | Updated 6 June 2023

Tools and resources for ‘zombie agreements’

All registered agreements made before 2010 will automatically sunset (terminate) on 7 December 2023. These agreements are known as ‘zombie agreements’.

Access new resources from the Fair Work Commission to help manage these changes to zombie agreements:

  • interactive checklist – helps you find out if you have zombie agreement and gives information on what to do next
  • fact sheet – a downloadable fact sheet with short summary information on the sunsetting of zombie agreements.

Find information on new rules about pay secrecy, job ads, flexible work and fixed term contracts.

Some of these changes started on 7 December 2022, but there are some transitional arrangements. This means that some parts of the new laws start earlier, while other parts start later.

Prohibiting pay secrecy

These changes take effect from 7 December 2022, but transitional arrangements apply to these new laws.

These changes prohibit secrecy about employees’ pay.

Disclosing pay and workplace conditions

The Fair Work Act now gives employees and future employees new workplace rights to:

  • share or not share information about:
    • their pay
    • their employment terms and conditions that would be needed to work out their pay, such as their hours of work
  • ask other employees (with the same or a different employer) about their:
    • pay
    • employment terms and conditions that would be needed to work out their pay, such as their hours of work.

Employees can’t be forced to give this information to another employee if they don’t want to.

Employees can exercise these rights even after they leave their employment.

These new rights apply after 7 December 2022:

  • if an employee and employer enter into a new employment contract on or after 7 December 2022, or
  • for existing employment contracts where the contract doesn’t include pay secrecy terms inconsistent with the new workplace rights.

Where an employee’s existing contract has pay secrecy terms that are inconsistent with the new workplace rights, and the contract is changed after 7 December 2022, the new workplace rights apply to the employee after the contract is changed.

Employers can’t take adverse action against an existing or future employee either:

  • because of these rights or
  • to prevent an existing or future employee from exercising these rights.

We (the Fair Work Ombudsman) have the power to take enforcement action including starting court proceedings for alleged breaches of the adverse action provisions. Employers could face penalties for breaching these provisions. You can read our Compliance and Enforcement Policy for information about how we perform our compliance and enforcement role.

Access our updated information at Pay secrecy.

Pay secrecy terms

From 7 June 2023, pay secrecy terms inconsistent with the new workplace rights described above can’t be included in employment contracts or other written agreements that were entered into on or after 7 December 2022.

We have the power to start court proceedings for alleged breaches of this new prohibition. Employers who have pay secrecy terms in their contracts that are inconsistent with the new prohibition, could face penalties. You can read our Compliance and Enforcement Policy for information about how we perform our compliance and enforcement role.

If a fair work instrument (such as an award or enterprise agreement) or an employment contract entered into on or after 7 December 2022 has a pay secrecy term in it, that term will have no effect and can’t be enforced.

This also applies after 7 December 2022 for employment contracts in effect before 7 December 2022, if the contract:

  • doesn’t include a pay secrecy term, or
  • includes a pay secrecy term and the contract is changed after 7 December 2022. When this happens, the laws will apply after the contract is changed.

For enterprise agreements, awards, or other fair work instruments, any pay secrecy terms have no effect and can’t be enforced after 7 December 2022. This applies regardless of whether the instrument was made before, on or after this date.

Find out more on our Pay secrecy page.

For more information, read the Department of Employment and Workplace Relation’s fact sheet Prohibiting pay secrecy clauses.

Job ads

These changes took effect from 7 January 2023.

From 7 January 2023, job advertisements (ads) can't include pay rates that would breach:

  • the Fair Work Act, or
  • a fair work instrument (such as an award or enterprise agreement).

This means that job ads can’t include pay rates that undercut employees’ minimum entitlements.

Employers advertising pieceworker positions where the employee would also be entitled to a periodic rate of pay (for example an hourly or weekly rate of pay) need to:

  • specify the periodic pay rate that applies, or
  • state in the ad that a periodic pay rate will apply.

These requirements apply from 7 January 2023, regardless of when the ad was originally posted. This means that even if the ad was posted in 2022, the requirement applies to that ad from 7 January 2023. We have the power to start court proceedings for alleged breaches of these provisions. Employers face fines for breaching these provisions unless they have a reasonable excuse for not complying. You can read our Compliance and Enforcement Policy for information about how we perform our compliance and enforcement role.

Access more information and helpful examples on our new Job ads page.

Flexible work

These changes took effect from 6 June 2023.

More employees can now request flexible working arrangements.

From 6 June 2023, the right to request flexible working arrangements also applies to:

  • employees, or a member of their immediate family or household, experiencing family and domestic violence
  • employees who are pregnant.

Employers have new obligations before they can refuse a request from an employee for a flexible working arrangement. Employers have to:

  • discuss the request with the employee
  • make a genuine effort to find alternative arrangements to accommodate the employee’s circumstances
  • consider the consequences of refusal for the employee
  • provide a written response that includes:
    • an explanation of the reasonable business grounds for refusing the request and how these grounds apply to the request
    • other changes the employer is willing to make that would accommodate the employee’s circumstances or that says there aren’t any changes
    • information about referring a dispute to the Fair Work Commission (the Commission).

If an employer and the employee have discussed the request and agreed to make changes to the employee’s working arrangements that are different to what the employee requested, the employer now needs to confirm these agreed changes in writing within 21 days of the request.

The Commission can now hear and make orders about disputes about flexible working arrangement requests if the parties can’t resolve the dispute at the workplace level. For example, if an employer:

  • refuses an employee’s request, or
  • doesn’t respond to a request within 21 days.

We have the power to start court proceedings for alleged breaches of these provisions. You can read our Compliance and Enforcement Policy for information about how we perform our compliance and enforcement role.

Read more on our updated Flexible working arrangements page.

Fixed term contracts

These provisions take effect from 6 December 2023, unless an earlier date is set by the Australian Government. We will update this information if this happens.

From 6 December 2023, new rules apply when engaging employees on fixed term contracts.

The new rules include:

  • a requirement for employers to give any employees they're engaging on a new fixed term contract a Fixed Term Contract Information Statement (FTCIS)
  • limitations on how fixed term contracts can be used.

There are some exceptions to who these rules apply to.

For more information visit, New rules for fixed term contracts.

We’ll have more information on our website about these changes closer to 6 December 2023. To stay up to date, subscribe to email updates.

Other pages in this section