New IR Bill tabled in WA Parliament

In the first State IR Transition Bulletin we confirmed that the WA State Government intended to reintroduce legislation to transition the Local Government (LG) sector into the State Industrial Relations System (State IR System).

The Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (IR Bill) was tabled in WA Parliament yesterday. The progress of the IR Bill, along with copies of the Blue Bills are available on the Parliament of WA website.

The new IR Bill contains the same transitional provisions as the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 and amends the:
  • Industrial Relations Act 1979 (IR Act)
  • Long Service Leave Act 1958 (not applicable to LGs)
  • Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 (MCE Act)
Relevant to LGs, the new IR Bill seeks to:
  • Transition all LGs into the State IR System.
  • Introduce a stop workplace bullying and sexual harassment jurisdiction for the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC) (based on the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act)).
  • Introduce an equal remuneration jurisdiction for the WAIRC.
  • Vary the scope of private sector awards.
  • Increase the requirements around record keeping and pay slips (some of which are reflective of the FW Act obligations).
  • Include five days’ unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
  • Increase penalties for breaches of employment laws, strengthen industrial inspector powers and enhance rights of authorised representatives.
  • Implement recommendations from the Inquiry into Wage Theft, including prohibiting ‘pay back’ and sham contracting arrangements.
  • Amend the Public and Bank Holidays Act 1972 to specify Easter Sunday as a public holiday throughout WA.
Transitional arrangements (which may operate for up to two years) aim to recognise existing Federal employment arrangements for a specified period, to give LGs sufficient time to comply with the IR Act and other State industrial laws. Transitional arrangements also seek to preserve employees’ continuity of employment and entitlements accrued in the Federal IR System.

The commencement of the transition relies on:
  • the WA Parliament passing the IR Bill
  • the commencement of regulations, which are likely to require further consultation, and
  • engagement with the Commonwealth to enable a declaration to be made by the Federal Minister for Industrial Relations that LGs are not ‘national system employers’.
Action plan for LGs
  1. Examine the proposed changes via the Blue Bills. 
  2. Register for the WALGA webinar on Tuesday, 16 November 2021 to understand the differences between the Federal and State minimum employment statutory entitlements, including the key differences between the National Employment Standards and the MCE Act. The webinar is for WALGA Employee Relations subscribers only.
  3. Consider the state awards and the MCE Act to determine a strategy around the potential changes in statutory employment conditions and costs implications for your workforce. 
WALGA will continue to update you on key changes and impacts as they arise via the State IR Transition Bulletin.

If you subscribe to the WALGA Employee Relations service and have any questions about this alert, please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 1300 366 956.