Littler Global Guide - Australia - Q1 2024

Browse through brief employment and labor law updates from around the globe. Contact a Littler attorney for more information or view our global locations.

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Australia Enacted Employee Right to Disconnect Law

New Legislation Enacted

Author: Naomi Seddon, Shareholder – Littler

On February 12, 2024, the Australian Federal Parliament passed the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Bill 2023, which introduced, among other changes, a right for all employees to refuse to monitor, read or respond to contact from their employer or third parties outside of their working hours unless the refusal is unreasonable. Various factors are considered in determining whether the contact is reasonable, including any compensation provided to an employee to remain available outside of work hours and the nature of the employee's role and level of responsibility. Employers may also elect to pay employees an availability allowance.

Under the new law, employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against employees who exercise their right to disconnect outside of work hours. The new law will go into effect on August 26, 2024, for employers with 15 or more employees, and on August 26, 2025, for employers with less than 15 employees. We recommend that employers review their employment agreements, employee compensation and policies ahead of this time to determine what changes may be needed to comply with the new law.

Fair Work Commission Defines "Shiftworker"

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Naomi Seddon, Shareholder – Littler

In its recent decision, Bega Dairy and Drinks Pty Ltd v. United Workers' Union (2024), the Fair Work Commission defined the term “seven-day shiftworker,” for purposes of determining eligibility for additional annual leave, as an employee whose ordinary hours of work are regularly spread evenly over seven days per week, and who regularly works on Sundays and public holidays. The Commission also held that employees need not work on a continuous 24/7 basis to be considered “seven-day shiftworkers” and need only work at least part-time on each of the seven days of the week to meet the definition.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.