Are you across the latest employment law amendment bills?

Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill

This Member’s Bill was introduced on 9 August 2018 and it is currently undergoing its first reading.

Currently, employees are entitled to 3 days bereavement leave for the death of a child, but the Holidays Act 2003 is unclear whether the death of a child includes death of a foetus.

This Bill would remove this ambiguity by confirming that the unplanned death of a foetus constitutes grounds for bereavement leave for the mother and her partner / spouse, and that the duration of the bereavement leave should be up to 3 days (to align it with other statutory bereavement leave granted for deaths in the immediate family).

If the Bill becomes law, section 69 of the Holidays Act 2003 will be amended to reflect the proposed change. 

Equal Pay Amendment Bill

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill was introduced by the Government on 19 September 2018 on national Suffrage Day.

The Bill proposes to amend the Equal Pay Act 1972 to prohibit employers from differentiating in the rates of pay provided to employees, on the basis of the sex of their employees. Women will also be able to bring “pay equity claims” on this basis.

If an employee chooses to raise a pay equity claim in the manner prescribed under the Bill, the employer will have an obligation to respond to the claim. If the claim cannot be resolved through a prescribed bargaining process under the Bill, or through mediation, the parties can apply to the Authority to have the claim decided.

The Authority may also have the ability to order back pay, up to a maximum of six years.

A breach of the following duties under the Bill can also result in fines for an individual of up to $10,000 and $20,000 for a body corporate:

  • The duty not to differentiate on the grounds of sex for persons who do the same or substantially similar work;
  • The duty to not unlawfully discriminate between employees because of their sex;
  • The duty on employers who determine a pay equity claim is arguable, to enter in to pay equity bargaining;
  • The duty to act in good faith towards the employee during the process of facilitation of bargaining;
  • The duty on the employer to keep records of pay equity claims; and
  • The duty to not treat an employee unfavourably because they have brought a pay equity claim.

Although the current Act does provide grounds for bringing an “equity pay claim”, the Bill takes a stronger stance against paying women a lower rate for doing the same role as a male and provides the grounds for a “pay equity claim”.

The difference between the two grounds is outlined below:

Equity pay claim Pay equity claim
An employer must ensure there is no differentiation, on the basis of gender, between the pay offered and afforded by the employer to employees of the employer who perform the same, or substantially similar, work An employer must ensure there is no differentiation between pay offered and afforded by the employer for work that is exclusively or predominantly performed by female employees and the rate of pay that would be paid to male employees

If the Bill passes in to law an employee who considers they are being paid less because of their gender can opt from one of the following options to bring a claim against their employer:

  • Equity pay claim under the Equal Pay Act 1972
  • Pay equity claim under the Equal Pay Act 1972
  • Personal grievance under the Employment Relations Act 2000
  • Discrimination claim under the Human Rights Act 1993

Workplace Law team

If you have any queries in respect of the above, or any other Workplace Law issues, please contact a member of Lane Neave’s Workplace Law team:

Employment: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan, Gwen DrewittMaria Green,  Hannah Martin, Joseph HarropHolly StruckmanAlex Beal, Giuliana Petronelli, Abby Shieh
Immigration: Mark Williams, Rachael Mason, Daniel Kruger, Nicky Robertson, Julia StrickettKen Huang, Mary Zhou, Shi Sheng Cai (Shoosh)Sarah Kirkwood, Janeske SchutteLingbo Yu
ACC: Andrew Shaw
Health and Safety: Andrew ShawFiona McMillan

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