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Protecting Worker Entitlements Bill Passed – What Members Need to Know


The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023 was passed last week (the PWE Act). The PWE Act makes a range of changes to the Fair Work Act (FW Act), including:

  1. Providing migrant workers with workplace protections under the FW Act, even if they may be non-compliant in terms of immigration law or visa conditions.
  2. Increasing the flexible unpaid parental leave entitlements from 6 weeks over 24 months to 20
  3. Creating an entitlement to superannuation in the National Employment Standards.
  4. Clarifying the operation of workplace determinations made by the Fair Work Commission and their interaction with enterprise agreements.
  5. Expanding the circumstances in which employees can authorise employers to make deductions from payments due to employees, where the deductions are principally for the employee’s benefit.

Protection for migrant workers

The FW Act will have a new provision to clarify that migrant workers, regardless of their immigration status, will be afforded the protections under the FW Act, such as unfair dismissal and general protections. This means migrant workers will have rights under the FW Act even though they may no longer be able to remain in Australia due to contravention of their visa conditions.

Increase access to unpaid parental leave

The PWE Act increases the flexible unpaid parental leave entitlements 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.

Superannuation is now an NES entitlement

Despite the employers’ obligations under Superannuation Guarantee laws, entitlement to superannuation guarantee is now part of the NES. This means employees and eligible unions can directly pursue employers for unpaid superannuation.

If you have any questions in relation to these changes, please contact our Workplace Relations and Legal team on (02) 6175 5900.