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Perspective

JobKeeper, Safety and Union push for working from home changes

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The Federal Government received positive forward estimates for June quarter (Unemployment won’t be 10%, more like 8% and the financial contraction won’t blow out to 20-24%, more like 10-12%). Good news for the economy but expect to see a quick scaling down of government support for business. Childcare ceases free placements 12 July and loses JobKeeper support for a support package (that will pay less) of over 700m.

NSW new amendment bill for WHS (safety legislation), following the Boland Report, has gone through parliament increasing fines as follows:

  1. Category 1 goes from $3m to $3.463m
  2. Category 2 from 1.5m to $1.731,560
  3. Category 3 from $500k to $577k

Fines are now linked to penalty units as in Victoria. It is hard to say when it will become law (but expect it to be before the end of 2020) but as an interesting aside, NSW has expanded the category 1 definition of recklessness (because it is so hard to prove and insert gross negligence – WA term in current legislation and a little like the test in industrial manslaughter, although it has shunned adopting Industrial manslaughter preferring to rely on wording inserted in the act that the standard criminal law will apply – not a great concern to a PCBU or Officer)

The ACTU is now focusing its attention on building safeguards around working from home. A laudable sentiment. It has concerns about span of hours and work hours (which are already clearly spelt out in Awards) but seems to have completely missed the big issue of safety. Preferring to entrench itself in its anachronistic focus on Award structures rather than workplace flexibility and employee welfare. It is another example of it fighting its way into irrelevance.

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