The Vulnerable Workers Bill passed in the Senate last night, after a range of amendments were made by Labor and cross-bench Senators.
The Bill is designed to ensure that franchisors and holding companies take greater responsibility for the employment practices of their franchisees or subsidiaries. Under the Bill, a franchisor or holding company will face exposure to liability where they could reasonably be expected to have known about breaches their franchisees/subsidiaries have engaged in.
Additionally, the Bill:
- increases (by up to 10 times) the penalties applicable for serious contraventions of the Fair Work Act; and
- strengthens the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) evidence gathering powers.
The Bill has not yet been passed into law. As amendments were made by the Labor party and cross-bench last night, the Bill must go to the House of Representatives for a further vote, before it can be presented to the Governor General and be made into law.
It is anticipated that the amended Bill could be voted on as early as this week.
This is a timely reminder for all employers to check compliance on awards, pay and employee entitlements. While this legislation has been a result of issues on under payment within some Franchise operations, it is clear that the FWO will target employers not paying their staff their correct entitlements.
To ensure your business is compliant, contact Luis Izzo, Director for a confidential discussion on reviewing your employer obligations - 1300 565 846.