The federal government’s Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act became law in December 2022.

The act amends several existing workplace rules and introduces new ones with the aim of boosting wage growth and job security, tackling gender inequality and modernising the workplace bargaining system.

By far the most extensive changes relate to industrial relations, with the act expanding the concept of multi-employer bargaining. That means:

  • More employees will be covered by enterprise agreements
  • More employers will likely be forced to bargain together (which could include competitors)

The majority of amendments dealing with enterprise agreements will take effect on 7 June 2023. However, the building and construction industry has been carved out from these reforms.

A summary of the other key changes is set out below, including their start date.

From 7 December 2022, the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act:

  • Prohibits pay secrecy clauses keeping employees from discussing wages with others
  • Changes the objectives in the Fair Work Act 2009 to include promoting job security and gender equality
  • Ensures breastfeeding, gender identity and intersex status are included in the anti-discrimination provisions of the Fair Work Act
  • Automatically sunsets all remaining transitional instruments currently preserved under the Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009
  • Gives the Fair Work Commission (FWC) powers to correct errors in enterprise agreements
  • Introduces a more onerous test that must be satisfied before the FWC will approve the termination of an agreement after its nominal expiry date

From 7 January 2023, the act:

  • Bans job advertisements that advertise wages below the minimum wage

From 6 February 2023, the act:

  • Abolishes the Australian Building and Construction Commission

From 6 March 2023, the act:

  • Prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Creates two expert panels at the FWC focusing on pay equity and the care and community sector

From 6 June 2023, the act:

  • Imposes stricter obligations on employers in responding to requests to extend unpaid parental leave, and empowers the FWC to deal with any such disputes
  • Makes it harder for employers to reject an employee’s request for a flexible working arrangement
  • Abolishes the Registered Organisations Commission

From 1 July 2023, the act:

  • Establishes the National Construction Industry Forum to provide advice to the government on the building and construction industry
  • Increases the monetary cap for recovering unpaid entitlements via the small claims process

From 6 December 2023, the act:

  • Limits the use of fixed-term contracts

Blaine Hattie is a business lawyer and principal at Sutton Laurence King Lawyers.

Want to know how the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act will impact your business? Contact Sutton Laurence King Lawyers today on 03 9070 9810 or  for help.