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New consultation obligations in relation to changes to working arrangements

New consultation obligations in relation to changes to working arrangements (Last Updated On: November 3, 2016)

Since 1 January 2014, employees covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement have a right to be consulted about changes to their regular roster or ordinary hours of work. Employers need to ensure compliance with these obligations or face penalties of up to $51,000 for each employee.

Under changes to the Fair Work Act 2009, employers must now consult with employees by:

• providing employees with information about the proposed change;
• inviting them to give their views about how the changes will affect them (in particular in relation to family and carer responsibilities); and
• considering their views.

Employees are also entitled to be represented during the consultation. The representative could be a nominated employee or union representative.

The obligation to consult extends not only to permanent employees but also to any casual employee who believes and relies upon the fact that their working arrangements are regular and systematic.

This obligation does not mean that you have reach an agreement over the changes with your employees, but you must take steps to genuinely consult with them.

From a practical perspective, this means that you should consult with employees in relation to a proposed change and not make any decision about or introduce changes to working arrangements until you have spoken to the affected employees. Be prepared to explain and justify the business reasons for the change. Consider your employees’ views and the impact of the changes on them and be aware that changes which may impact on family or career’s responsibilities might also carry a risk of being discriminatory.

By Chad Issa – Employment Relations Consultant

If you are considering altering an employee’s hours of work or regular roster, contact the Employsure advice line on 1300 651 415.

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