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Impact of the Secure Jobs Better Pay Act on Award Model Terms


Changes made to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (‘FWA’) under the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 and Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023 (PWE Act) have now come into effect.

As a result, Fair Work Commission has reviewed a number of Awards and made a determination to vary certain model terms to reflect these changes.

The variations to the relevant Awards are with respect of:

  1. The employee entitlement to request flexible working arrangements;
  2. Disputes relating to an employee’s request for flexible working arrangements; and
  3. Disputes relating to an employee’s unpaid parental leave entitlement.
Further detail about these changes are provided below:

Request for flexible working arrangements:

The FWA has expanded the circumstances in which employees are entitled to make a request for flexible working arrangements.

If an employee makes a request under Section 65 of the FWA, an employer is required to discuss the request with the employee and genuinely attempt to reach an agreement that accommodates the employee’s circumstances. If the employer refuses the request the employer must provide reasons which sets out the ‘reasonable business grounds’ for the refusal.

The response to the request for flexible working arrangements must be provided within 21 days of the request being made.

Increase access to unpaid parental leave:

The PWE Act has increased the flexible unpaid parental leave entitlements of employees from 6 weeks over 24 months to 20 weeks. It also enables employee couples to take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave, regardless of how much leave the other spouse or partner takes. This means an employee couple could take unpaid parental leave at the same time. Each spouse/partner will also be allowed to request a further 12 months of unpaid parental leave, up to a total of 24 months each.

Disputes relating to these matters:

The relevant Awards have now been amended to include disputes resulting from a request for flexible work arrangements and unpaid parental leave entitlements, to be dealt with in accordance with the dispute resolution clauses of the Award. This may include a referral to the Fair Works Commission to resolve a dispute.

Members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with these changes and understand what is required of them, should a request be made.

The Workplace Relations and Legal Team can provide you with guidance in relation to these changes or what this means for your rights and responsibilities as an employer. Contact the team on (02) 6175 5900.