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Worker shortages, inflation, and climate: Here are the key small business concerns as Labor takes power

 

 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was today sworn into office, kicking off the tenure of his Labor government.

After nine years of Coalition leadership, Labor’s ascendancy could offer a new take on small business policy.

Sensing the potential for a shake-up in Canberra, business groups including the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) have now outlined their policy priorities.

Worker shortages, inclusivity, and equality

The shortage of qualified labour across industry sectors remains a key concern

“The first priority must be ending the most acute labour and skill shortages in 48 years,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“Small businesses cannot afford for the next federal government to drag its heels on growing Australia’s workforce.”

The ARA also circled labour and skills shortages as a top five priority, while COSBOA called for the incoming government to eliminate “barriers” between employers and their potential employees, “such as negative impacts on tax, access to benefits, and pension”.

Workplace and wage equality remain key issues too, with the ARA calling on Labor to “advance social and economic outcomes” alike.

The party pledged a broad reworking of the temporary visa system, opening another pathway for migrants to become permanent residents. It has also backed the Coalition’s 2022-23 federal budget pledge to provide bonus tax rebates to small businesses investing in tech training, a move warmly welcomed by employers.

However, the crux of its skills platform rests on its free-free TAFE plan, which will take years to come up to speed.

Inflation and supply chain certainty

The cost of doing business is surging, led by the price of materials, fuel, and power (plus some labour, as mentioned above).

The ARA has called for further supply chain resilience, to avoid the kind of shocks faced by local retailers battling delays caused by COVID-19 backlogs and natural disasters.

Recent data from Xero shows 23.7% of surveyed businesses considered supply chain constraints a key concern.

Likewise, COSBOA says the incoming government must “address the criticality of supply chain issues and the impact they are having on small business’ input costs”.

The small business sector is waiting for more detail on how Labor’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund and $1 billion advanced manufacturing scheme will operate, with an eye to how they could bolster Australia’s self-sufficiency.

Climate

The loss of key Liberal Party electorates to ‘teal’ independents — including the all-but-certain defeat of former treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Melbourne’s Kooyong — showed how seriously affluent, inner-city suburbs take the issue of climate change.

Meanwhile, regional centres are still recovering from devastating flooding across Queensland and northern New South Wales, to say nothing of businesses decimated by the 2019 bushfire season.

COSBOA ranked disaster preparedness as a key concern for small businesses, noting Labor’s $200 million per year pledge to boost disaster resilience, and simplify emergency payment schemes for impacted businesses.

As insurance premiums rise, COSBOA says Labor’s policy platform “recognises the role insurance plays in this policy area”.

“We are keen to advance collaboration with the new government around climate action,” ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said in a statement.

“Retailers are already well underway in their plans to address challenges within key areas such as energy use, food and textile waste, supply chain transparency and the circular economy. We need deeper and stronger integration with government plans in all these areas.”

Tax

Labor campaigned on a promise to ensure multinational corporations pay their fair share of tax, a move the party said would assist in “leveling the playing field for Australian businesses”.

However, the small business community is keen to find its own tax cuts, on top of the promise to crack down on the big end of town.

Approximately 17% of businesses with a turnover between $1 million and $5 million listed company tax cuts as an election priority, according to data compiled for business financier ScotPac.

Even more important for the sector: another extension of the instant asset write-off scheme. Around 22% of SMEs surveyed called the policy an election priority, before its expiration in mid-2023.

Small businesses are also keen to see simplified BAS reporting and compliance systems, minimising the time business owners spend on administrative duties.

Labor policy documents claim the party will “drive a genuine collaboration with small businesses and government to reduce the time small businesses spend doing taxes, cut paperwork and target support”.

While the Coalition’s ‘stage three’ tax cuts are supported by Labor, COSBOA described its overall tax policy as “very vague” for small businesses.

Competition, procurement, and payments reform

The small business sector wants to improve its dealings with big business and government alike.

COSBOA is crystal clear on its approach to competition regulation: the peak body wants enhanced powers for the ACCC, allowing it to “impose greater conditions on
acquisitions to protect competition in the market”.

Beyond shielding small business from the economic clout of multinationals, COSBOA wants to increase the proportion of government contracts held by SMEs.

Labor has pledged some support in this regard, with its Buy Australian Plan focused on “decoding and simplifying procurement processes” for small and medium enterprises.

Labor has presented its own plan to protect small businesses.

On top of its big business tax compliance agenda, Labor plans to institute a mechanism ensuring payments to SMEs are made within 30 days, improving cashflow to smaller enterprises.

As a bonus, Labor has also committed to least-cost routing, enabling small businesses to chose the cheapest payment processing option available when processing transactions.

Source: SmartCompany

UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OVERTIME PAY VS. TIME IN LIEU

 

Understanding different payment terms can be confusing. There’s ordinary time, overtime and time off in lieu to make sense of. 

Given the penalties for getting things wrong, it is important to understand when an employee is entitled to be paid overtime for the hours they have worked or whether providing time in lieu of paying overtime is available for you and an employee, and if so what rules apply.

WHEN WOULD AN EMPLOYEE BE ENTITLED TO OVERTIME?

If the employee is not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement, then whether they can earn overtime is a matter for their employment contract. 

Very few employees not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement get overtime in Australia. Some shift supervisors do in the heavy manufacturing sector, but this is rare.

If the employee is covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement, then whether they can earn overtime will be set out in the modern award or enterprise agreement.

When overtime applies can vary greatly between modern awards. It usually includes an employee working:

  • more than a certain number of hours each day or week
  • outside of a certain spread of hours
  • (for part-time employees) more than their usual hours each day or week.

HOW IS OVERTIME CALCULATED?

In modern awards (and most enterprise agreements) overtime payments are based on a multiple of an employee’s ordinary time hourly rate of pay. Modern awards that provide for overtime require overtime to be paid:

  • At 150% (time and a half) of an employee’s ordinary time hourly rate for the first two or three hours of overtime worked
  • At 200% (double time) of an employee’s ordinary time hourly rate after the two or three hours of overtime worked.

Some modern awards provide different overtime payment arrangements for:

  • shift workers
  • working overtime on Saturday
  • working overtime on Sunday
  • working overtime on a public holiday.

HOW IS OVERTIME CALCULATED?

The question is answered in the National Employment Standards. An employee does not have a right to work overtime unless you have created one through your employment contracts. Deciding that overtime is needed is a matter for the employer.

In simple terms, an employer can ask an employee to work “additional hours” each week as long as the request is reasonable. Keep in mind an employee can decline the request if it is unreasonable for them.

Additional hours are:

  • for a full-time employee: anything over 38 hours a week
  • for other than a full-time employee: the lesser of 38 a week or the employee’s ordinary weekly hours.

Clear as mud, right?

It’s a little unusual as it requires two very similar but not identical tests for the employer and employee:

  • the original request needs to be reasonable 
  • the right to refuse must be based on unreasonableness.

So it could be reasonable in the circumstances for the employer to request additional hours to be worked, but then in the circumstances of a given employee, the request could be unreasonable.

In considering what is reasonable or unreasonable in the circumstances, the legislation requires the following to be taken into account:

  • risk to health and safety
  • the employee’s personal circumstances such as family responsibilities
  • the needs of the business
  • whether the employee will be paid overtime, penalty rates or other compensation
  • whether the employee’s level of remuneration reflects an expectation of working additional hours
  • any notice given by the employer of the request
  • any notice given by the employee of their intention to refuse
  • the usual patterns of work in the industry or part of the industry the employee works in
  • the nature of the employee’s role and level of responsibility
  • whether the hours worked are in accordance with any applicable weekly averaging provisions found in all modern awards or under the Fair Work Act 2009
  • any other relevant matter.

TIME OFF IN LIEU OF OVERTIME

Time off in lieu of overtime applies when an employee works additional hours and instead of being paid overtime agrees to take paid time off work during their ordinary hours of work instead of being paid the overtime payment – called “time off in lieu” or “TOIL”.

For some employers, TOIL is valuable business flexibility as it allows them to substitute a form of leave for what would otherwise be an additional payment and therefore cost.

TOIL is used quite a lot in the public sector and also in sectors like health, social welfare and personal care as well as for many clerical office roles. It tends to suit jobs where the employee can be off for a short period without disrupting the usual workflow.  

You can see this in an office environment where a clerical worker might take an early-mark on a Friday afternoon at 2pm as TOIL rather than be paid overtime earned at another time. 

This may cause little disruption to the workflow of the office, save the business from paying the overtime and provide valuable work-life balance for the employee.

ARE THE TOIL RULES ALL THE SAME?

In a modern award, they are similar but not always the same. Most have the following features:

  • Taking TOIL is by agreement with the employee concerned (often in writing).
  • The time off usually needs to be taken within a set period (often six months).
  • The time off needs to be taken at a mutually agreed time.
  • The employee can elect to be paid the overtime as pay at any time.
  • If there is a time period in the modern award and time off has not been taken during that period, the employer must pay the employee for the overtime worked.
  • An employer cannot put an employee under pressure to take TOIL.
  • If the employee’s employment comes to an end, the TOIL/overtime must be paid out.

HOW IS TOIL CALCULATED?

One of the things you have to watch out for in modern awards is how the amount of time off is calculated. In some, it is an hour off for each hour of overtime worked and in others the hours off equal the paid hours.

For instance, if an employee worked two hours overtime to be paid at time and a half (150%) they would be entitled to three hours pay at their ordinary time hourly rate.

In this example, some modern awards will say that if the employee wants TOIL:

  • they can have two hours off (because they worked two hours of overtime), while others could say
  • they can have three hours off (because they were owed three hours pay).

Many but not all modern awards provide for time off in lieu of overtime.

Industries covered by modern awards that include time off in lieu include:

  • retail
  • restaurants, cafes
  • hospitality
  • transport
  • general manufacturing.

IF MY EMPLOYEE IS COVERED BY A MODERN AWARD AND ASKS FOR TOIL, MUST I GIVE IT TO THEM?

Remember its “by agreement”.

TOIL may sound like a good option for your business, but remember it can only be used by agreement under modern awards (and likely enterprise agreements). 

If your employee works overtime and asks for TOIL but it does not suit you, politely say no. Neither you nor your employee is under any obligation to agree to TOIL.

It is important to get this right so get in touch with our Workplace Advice Line today. 

Source: Business Australia

FWO CLARIFIES MANUFACTURING AND TIMBER AWARD TERMS

The clarification, released on 3 May, forms part of the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) Modern Award Review, where many awards have been rewritten in plain English. It applies from the first full-pay period that starts on or after 2 May 2022. 

Manufacturing Award

The redundancy clause in the Manufacturing Award has been rewritten in plain English to help small business employers determine if their employees are entitled to the ‘furnishing employees of small business employers’ redundancy pay. These wording clarifications include:

  • stating that it applies to the furnishing employees of small businesses
  • explaining the type of work an employee performs as a furnishing employee.

Timber Award

The redundancy clause in the Timber Award is also now written in plain English. Updates include:

  • removing references that exclude ‘weekly piecework employees’ in the redundancy pay entitlements clause for small business.
  • moving the ‘payment by results – wood and timber furniture stream’ provision to the minimum rates clause as ‘payment by results’ is a way to pay an employee rather than an employment category.

Other changes to both awards

The FWC also updated the wording of the following award clauses in both awards:

  • award flexibility (now called individual flexibility arrangements)
  • consultation (now called consultation about major workplace change)
  • dispute resolution
  • termination of employment.

The FWO noted that these changes don’t affect award entitlements or obligations.

Source: Business Australia

ACCC EYES SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

 

In her keynote address at the ICC/IBA Pre-International Competition Network Forum this week, ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb argued that competition agencies worldwide benefited from international enforcement cooperation because it reduced duplicative efforts to assess the similar conduct or proposed multi jurisdictional transactions and could lead to more efficient investigations. 

“Frequently, it also benefits the business community by helping to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses operating internationally,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said. 

Supply chain issues 

The ACCC chair noted that the importance of effective and competitive supply chains had been more evident than ever during the pandemic.

“The effects of COVID-related staff shortages, congestion at ports and transport bottlenecks and interruptions have disrupted the global supply of many retail goods from fresh food and groceries to critical equipment and medications and affected us all. 

“Australia’s position as an island continent has meant we have felt these effects acutely. Unfortunately, such disruptions have led to higher freight rates, which of course ultimately means higher prices for consumers.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said this disruption, in particular, had highlighted the significant advantages of international cooperation. 

“The ACCC recently formed a working group with our fellow competition authorities in the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand to share intelligence and work together to detect any attempts by businesses to use the pandemic as a veil for illegal conduct, such as collusion, in our global supply chains,” she said. 

“The ACCC hopes in this initiative and in collaborations with other agencies to contribute to actions to enhance the opportunity for recovery and growth, while maintaining competitive conditions in affected sectors.

“Regulators across the world have been highly conscious of the impact of COVID-19 on consumers, businesses and markets and, where appropriate, factored these circumstances into their consideration of competition matters in the short term to assist business to remain viable in the longer term.”

The ACCC said that it would seek to ensure disruptions to affected markets were temporary and limited to what was necessary. 

Source: Business Australia

Ongoing Shipping Delays/ Congestions/ Omissions 

Update supplied: 31 May 2022

Our partners at ADM Global have provided us with another update on international shipping.

Rates continue on the downward trajectory, the China Lockdowns continue and we are monitoring closely and we are weary of the potential impacts once the lockdowns are lifted, with an increase in supply/demand. 

Fuel prices continue to fluctuate.

There is concerns landside that are causing congestion/delays at the terminals/empty depots. Empty depots are currently at capacity and are turning away empty container dehires, which is a concern with strict detention free days and additional costs from the shipping lines.

The ongoing weather conditions are also creating pressure on transport, being high in demand and SYD/BNE terminals currently being at capacity and working through a backlog.

SERVICES

  • Transhipment delays/congestion are starting to ease with an average delay of 2 weeks, depending on the TS port/line
  • New services have been announced ex SHA/SZX into AU, commencing the 31st of May, adding further capacity/volume into the AU market
  • Equipment/space demand is beginning to ease – container imbalance continues but some trades have a surplus Eg; China 40HC remains in demand but 20’s are now in surplus
  • Rates ex China/Indonesia are starting to ease and we will begin to see this reflect in APR/MAY rates – our NAC contractual rate remain the most competitive option but SPOT rates will be utilised where most competitive
  • Shipping lines have announced cancellation/amendment fees which we are navigating our way through at this time – cancellation fees are not being received however we are managing PO’s thoroughly to avoid, cancellation fees remain in effect
  • BMSB from China as an ‘emerging risk country’ with heighten surveillance/inspections only as opposed to mandatory fumigation – this is creating delays with AQIS and pressure on AU treatment facilities with an increase in BMSB directions, unpacks and inspections
  • Global Fuel prices are increasing and BAF will be increasing come Q2 for all liner services
  • Fuel prices in the domestic market are also due to increase have been reviewed and we’ll monitor closely

CHINA

  • No further GRI announcements at this stage with market rates decreasing, slowly recovering and rates continue to decrease daily on a SPOT rate level
  • Lack of equipment and overbooked vessels are starting to ease and supply/demand is decreasing as we enter ‘slack’ season
  • Main China cities currently in lockdown which could have an impact on supply chain services –port operations are being impacted but mainly in SHA/NGB/SZX  – SHA cases are decreasing each day and port operations continue, however delays/congestion are being experienced. Once SHA opens up, there will be a demand in services, placing pressure on space/equipment and potentially increasing rate levels
  • Transport services are being impacted by the lockdowns with limited resources to service the volume and a backlog being created, in the cities that are being lockdown – FOB China bookings for ITI are ex XMN/FUZ/SHA

INDONESIA

  • Equipment issues and overbooking in Indonesia are in recovery, services are being to stabilise as the feeder services and transhipments ports experience less throughput
  • Services are becoming increasingly more reliable, however feeder services into TS ports are still being impacted
  • Shipments/services are impacted by ongoing transhipment delays in South East Asian ports (Port Klang/Singapore/Tanjung Pelapas)

USA

  • The situation in the US is easing with an average of 65 vessels anchored off major WC ports vs an average of 121 vessels in NOV/DEC, returning vessel capacity and equipment back into other markets more promptly
  • US haulage is in recovery and should begin to see an easing of pressure on infrastructure/services in the coming months, as long as the recovery period continues with no major set backs
  • US rail services are beginning to stabilise
  • Port congestion on the WC continues but is currently in recovery and delays can still be expected

EUR

  • As the situation with the Ukrainian conflict continues, we are monitoring global services closely – fuel pricing is being impacted
  • Fuel prices have increased due to the increase in global demand/supply

SOUTH AMERICA

  • The Mapuche Conflict has caused disruptions Ex Chile – services from South America are heavily impacted with freight rates increasing, significantly

AUSTRALIA

  • No further PIA action announced at this stage
  • Fuel is being monitored closely – increases are anticipated for JUN
  • Infrastructure increases have been announced, nationally
  • Domestic transport has been impacted with the short weeks and wet weather conditions – delays and backlogs continue

Shanghai Situation

The Shanghai government plans to end a COVID-19 lockdown and return to a more
normal life from 01 June 2022. Shanghai shall reopen in stages, with movement controls
largely to remain in place until 21 May 2022 to prevent a rebound in infections before an easing.

During the 3 stages, even those residential areas which are designated for release,
staff and workers cannot immediately go to the workplace due to limited public transportation
in their specific regions between home and the workplace.

If there is no increase in numbers of positive cases and the risk of a rebound in infection is controlled,
a full restoration to normal activities is latest, anticipated in mid-late Jun.

Warehouses in Waigaoqiao and Yangshan

Warehouses in the Yangshan region have resumed receipt of cargo, albeit it just a partial opening for inbound cargo and container loading with limited services.

Warehouses in the Waigaoqiao are similar to Yangshan with limited service however they have resumed receiving inbound cargo and container loading with limited service. Truckers must present several health records for warehouse entry, such as the green health code and body temperature measures, “COVID 19 travel e-permit” issued by Shanghai International Port (Group) Co, Ltd. as well as undergo nucleic acid tests by the security guard and janitors.

Overall, truckers must apply for warehouse entry online via appointment only, with24 hours notice in advance of arrival.

Trucking Service

The Shanghai government has released permits to drivers strictly subject to filing essential information in EIRIMS system in advance including any of below test reports:

A 24hr nucleic test report with negative result.
A 48hr nucleic test report and 24hr antigen testing report

Trucking services are provided with restricted service, and are subject to
permits from shippers, and booking must be secured and approved at least 10 days in advance due to the limited workforce.

Options/Recommendations

Ningbo is the best alternative port for shipments originating from Shanghai. We are able to assist shippers in determining and arranging the best route to move cargo via alternate loading ports such as Ningbo.

Source: ADM Global

Get ready to getyour.au

For the first time, Australians will be able to register domain names directly before the .au, such as getyour.au. This is also referred to as a “second level name” or the “.au namespace”.

auDA (the administrator of Australia’s new .au top level domain) CEO, Rosemary Sinclair AM said, “I am delighted to announce .au direct will be available from March 2022, providing consumers the opportunity to licence shorter, eye-catching names and bringing Australia in line with most other country code Top Level Domains including the United Kingdom (.uk), Canada (.ca), the USA (.us) and New Zealand (.nz).

auDA released the namespace on the 24th March 2022 giving existing domain owners six months to apply for Priority Status (protection of their domain) with an accredited registrar. If domain owners do not apply, corresponding names will be made available for registration by the public after this six-month period.

Existing registrants (domain owners) of .com.au domain names (or others e.g. .net.au) will have the chance to apply for the .au direct exact match of their names via the priority allocation process.

The process to apply is usually as simple as applying for your .au domain via your current domain registrar.

For more information please refer to the auDA website.

South Australia Labor Premier Appoints Ministers to Cabinet Portfolios

The new Labor cabinet appointed by Premier Peter Malinauskas has been announced – The 15-strong ministry was sworn in at Government House by Governor Frances Adamson this morning.

Two surprise additions have been former federal Labor politician Nick Champion and independent Geoff Brock. Mr Brock formerly served under the Weatherill Government after his support allowed Labor to return to power as a minority government in 2014.

The Malinauskas Government holds power without Mr Brock’s support, but his inclusion shores up parliamentary support and adds regional clout to the ministry. Mr Brock resumes as local government minister, a role he previously held in the Weatherill government, while Mr Champion has been appointed housing and planning minister. The other appointments were widely expected and largely based on Mr Malinauskas’ Opposition frontbench.

Four new ministers – Katrine Hildyard, Nat Cook, Andrea Michaels and Kyam Maher — had to be sworn in by video links because they were in isolation.

The newly sworn in Ministers and their portfolios:

Peter Malinauskas –

Premier

Mr Malinauskas was the state secretary of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association before entering the Legislative Council in 2015. He then moved to the Legislative Assembly, replacing former attorney-general Michael Atkinson as the Labor MP for Croydon. Mr Malinauskas was minister for police and correctional services in the Weatherill government before becoming health minister. He became the state leader of the Labor Party following the 2018 election.

Susan Close –

Deputy Premier

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

Minister for Defence and Space Industries

Minister for Climate, Environment and Water

A former public servant, Dr Close was an environment activist before joining state parliament, helping to establish the Port River dolphin sanctuary. She was the minister for education and child development, higher education and skills in the Weatherill and deputy opposition leader following the 2018 election.

Stephen Mullighan –

Treasurer

The son of late Supreme Court judge Ted Mullighan, Mr Mullighan worked for Deloittes before becoming an adviser in the Weatherill government. He worked for former attorney-general John Rau and treasurer Kevin Foley and was deputy chief of staff to former premier Jay Weatherill. Mr Mullighan was transport and infrastructure minister before becoming Labor treasury spokesman following Labor’s 2018 election loss.

Kyam Maher –

Attorney General

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector

A qualified lawyer, Mr Mayer worked in the Crown Solicitor’s Office before becoming chief of staff to former Labor regional affairs, Aboriginal affairs and correctional services minister Terry Roberts in 2002. He was Labor Party state secretary before entering the Legislative Council in 2012.

Tom Koutsantonis –

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport

Minister for Energy and Mining

Mr Koutsantonis was raised by Greek migrants in Adelaide’s western suburbs. He worked as a taxi driver, small business owner and operated his parents’ chicken shop before becoming an industrial officer with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association. Mr Koutsantonis was appointed road safety minister following the resignation of independent Rory McEwen from the Rann Government cabinet in 2009. He then was promoted to transport and infrastructure minister and later became treasurer and minister for finance and state development in the Weatherill government.

Chris Picton –

Minister for Health and Wellbeing

Mr Picton worked in public policy before joining former Labor health minister John Hill as an adviser and his chief of staff. He was appointed police, correctional services, emergency services and road safety minister in 2017. Mr Picton has been Labor health spokesman since 2018.

Zoe Bettison –

Minister for Tourism

Minister for Multicultural Affairs

Ms Bettison worked for rail operator Great Southern Rail and lobbyists Hawker Britton before her election to state parliament in 2012 in the seat of Ramsey, replacing former Labor premier Mike Rann. She was an organiser with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association and Northern Territory ALP state secretary before entering state parliament. Ms Bettison was communities and social inclusion, social housing, multicultural affairs, ageing, youth, veteran affairs and volunteers minister in the Weatherill Labor government.

Katrine Hildyard –

Minister for Child Protection

Minister for Women and Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence

Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing

Ms Hildyard worked for former Labor senator Nick Bolkus and the Australian Services Union before entering state parliament in 2014. A parliamentary secretary to Mr Weatherill and ALP state president, she was appointed disabilities minister in 2017.

Nat Cook –

Minister for Human Services

Ms Cook entered parliament in 2014 when she won a by-election to replace long serving Liberal and independent MP Bob Such. An anti-violence campaigner following the death of her son, Ms Cook was parliamentary secretary for housing and urban development in the Weatherill government.

Clare Scriven –

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development

Minister for Forest Industries

Raised in Mt Gambier, Ms Scriven was Australian Forests Products Association state manager. She became a member of the Legislative Council in 2018.

Blair Boyer –

Minister for Education, Training and Skills

Mr Boyer was a senior adviser to former Labor premier Jay Weatherill and chief of staff to former Labor human services minister Jennifer Rankine.

Joe Szakacs –

Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services

Mr Szakacs was SA Unions secretary for six years before taking the seat of Cheltenham in a 2019 by-election. A qualified lawyer, he also worked for Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Fire Fighters’ Union. Mr Szakacs was a champion swimmer, representing Australia at international competitions.

Nick Champion –

Minister for Trade and Investment

Minister for Housing and Urban Development

Minister for Planning

Mr Champion is a former union official who switched from federal parliament to successfully contest the northern suburbs seat of Taylor in last weekend’s election. He and Peter Malinauskas both worked for the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association. Mr Champion is a former ALP state president and adviser in the government of former Labor premier Mike Rann.

Andrea Michaels –

Minister for Small and Family Business

Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs

Minister for Arts

A practising lawyer, Ms Michaels was elected to the seat of Enfield during a by-election in 2019 following the resignation of former Labor deputy premier, planning minister and attorney-general John Rau in December 2018. Ms Michaels was appointed as the Labor spokeswoman for small and family business, consumer and business affairs, planning and urban development, and housing in 2020.

Geoff Brock –

Minister for Local Government

Minister for Regional Roads

Minister for Veterans Affairs

Mr Brock was working in the Port Pirie aluminium smelter when he became a local councillor in 1989, later being elected mayor. He entered state parliament in 2009 by-election for the seat of Frome in a shock result, holding the seat as an independent until last weekend, when he successfully contested the seat of Stuart, beating Liberal Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

Source: Apprentice Employment Network – South Australia 

Updated COVID Rules

Easter is a busy time for everyone, we wanted to update everyone on the current COVID rules in each State and Territory. Please note that Critically Essential Industry and Roles Lists have not changed since our last communication.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Restrictions:
Masks: are required for high-risk settings (aged care, disability care, prisons and hospitals), personal care services, health care services, transport services including taxis, indoor fitness facilities (except while exercising), for any shared indoor public spaces which includes retail stores and shopping centres.
Vaccinations: vaccine mandates only apply to healthcare setting workers; all other mandates have been revoked.
Density limits: no current density limits in place. COVID Safe Management plans are required for events with more than 1000 people.

Isolation requirements:
COVID positive – 7 days isolation
Close contact – 7 days isolation. If you are quarantining with other people, you do not need to restart your 7-day quarantine period each time if another person in the house tests positive.
 
Close contact rules:
Close contacts are defined as a household member or intimate partner of a person with COVID, has had close personal interaction with a person with COVID for a cumulative period of 4 hours or more, where masks were not worn, in close physical proximity (within 1.5 metres) and in an indoor setting.
 
More information click here

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Restrictions:
Masks: are required for people aged 8 and over everywhere indoors, other than at home, when on public transport including taxis, at hospitals and residential aged car facilities.
Vaccinations: vaccine mandates across many industries are still in effect in WA.  Proof of vaccination is required to enter all hospitality venues, food or licenced venues, nightclubs, indoor entertainment venues, cinemas, major stadiums, gyms and fitness facilities, hospitals and aged care facilities.
Density limits: 2sqm rule applies to hospitality venues, nightclubs, fitness facilities, entertainment venues, places of worship, personal care (hairdressers, etc.), galleries and museums. Indoor gatherings at home at capped at 30 people, outdoor gatherings are capped at 200 people, or the venue density limits (whichever is less).

Isolation requirements:
COVID positive – 7 days isolation
Close contact – 7 days isolation. If another household member tests positive whilst you are in 7 days isolation, you are now able to leave isolation on day 7 with a negative RAT – no extension to isolation is required.
 
Close contact rules:
This is defined as an intimate partner, someone who lives with you, someone you have spent 15+ minutes with where you were both not wearing a mask.
More information click here.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Restrictions:
Masks: are no longer required in most indoor settings in NT, wearing a mask remains mandatory in the following settings: hospitals and health care, aged care, disability, airports, correctional facilities and other community care settings.
Vaccinations: it is mandatory for workers in certain industries to be vaccinated, including hospitals, residential aged care, disability, custodial correctional facilities, youth detention centres, community care services, and any worker who is in contact with vulnerable people, which includes teachers, childcare, retail workers, hospitality, gyms and fitness, personal care services, tradespeople, emergency services, cleaning contractors and regional councils.
Density: No current density limit restrictions.

Isolation requirements:
COVID positive – 7 days isolation
Close contact – 7 days isolation, your isolation period doesn’t start again if someone else in the household tests positive during your 7 days quarantine
 
Close contact rules:
If you reside in the same house/premises as a positive COVID case, or if you stayed overnight in the same premises. If you have spent 4 or more hours indoors with a positive case while they were infectious.
Close contacts who are essential workers may leave isolation to undertake essential work if they have no symptoms, are vaccinated, have a negative RAT and are required to perform their work.
 
More information: click here.

QUEENSLAND

Restrictions:
Masks: are required for all people entering healthcare settings, residential aged care, disability, public transport, prison, airports and on planes. 
Vaccinations: vaccination requirements to enter venues will be removed as at 1am 14 April 2022. Vaccination requirements continue for anyone visiting or working in vulnerable settings (hospitals, aged care, disability) as well as workers in high-risk settings (schools, childcare, prisons and airports).
Density: There are currently no COVID density restrictions on businesses.
 
Isolation requirements:
COVID Positive – 7 days isolation
Close contact – 7 days isolation

Close contact rules:
If you have been with a person that has COVID for more than 4 hours in a house or other accommodation, a care facility or other. Usually only applicable for people that live together.
 
More information click here.

NEW SOUTH WALES

Restrictions:
Masks: All people over the age of 12 must wear a face mask on public transport, on aircrafts, in healthcare facilities and hospitals, residential care facilities and at an indoor music festival with over 1000 patrons.
Vaccinations: Most premises in NSW are now open to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Vaccine mandates for certain industries still apply, including education, aged care, health care, in-home and community care and for airport and quarantine workers.
Density limits: density limits have been removed for hospitality venues, shopping and personal services, education, gyms and fitness facilities, construction sites, events and entertainment, weddings and religious ceremonies. No restrictions currently apply to these industries/events. Employers can allow their staff to work from the office or home at their discretion, there are now no travel restrictions.

Isolation requirements:
COVID positive – 7 days isolation
Close contact – 7 days isolation, you do not need to repeat self-isolation if another person in your household tests positive during your 7 days self-isolation.
Critical workers furloughed as close contacts are permitted to leave self-isolation if they have no symptoms. 
 
Close contact rules:
Differs based on the length of time exposed, whether masks were worn and whether the interaction as indoors. No time limits are set – however the NSW Gov have provided a table of examples/scenarios of isolation requirements:click here.
 
More information click here.

VICTORIA

Restrictions:
Masks: are required in some settings, including hospitality, retail venues, public transport, hospitals and indoor care facilities, students in year 3 or above, airports, indoor events. Masks are no longer required in other indoor settings but are recommended for any worker in a public facing role.
Vaccinations: vaccination mandates for workers across many industries still exist, including healthcare, residential aged care, disability, custodial, emergency services, meat and seafood processing, education, food distribution and quarantine workers.
Many venues can open if all the staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.
Density limits: No density limits currently apply however 1.5m distancing is advised.

Isolation requirements:
COVID positive – 7 days isolation.
Close contract – 7 days isolation, your quarantine period does not start again is another person in your household tests positive whilst you are isolating.
 
Close contact rules:
If you have spent more than 4 hours with someone who has COVID, inside a house, accommodation or care facility. If you do not meet his requirement, you are considered a casual contact and you should monitor for symptoms and complete a RAT.
 
More information click here.

TASMANIA

Restrictions:
Masks: Masks are required for all people over the age of 12 in the following settings – hospitals, residential aged car facilities, correctional facilities, health and medical care facilities, schools, early childcare services, public transport, airports and aircrafts, ports and ships.
Vaccinations: vaccination mandates apply to workers of certain industries including aged care, quarantine facilities, medical and healthcare settings, and disability support workers. No other vaccination restrictions apply.
Density limits: All premises must adhere to the 1 person per 2sqm density limit. There is a limit of 100 people allowed at household gatherings. Larger events outdoors in excess of 500 people must have a COVID safe plan and collect full contact tracing records.

Isolation requirements:
COVID positive – 7 days isolation
Close contact – 7 days isolation
 
Close contact rules:
Close contacts are defined as: anyone who lives with or stays overnight in the same premises as a confirmed COVID case, anyone who has spent more than 4 hours in a residential setting with a confirmed case whilst infectious.
 
More information click here.

Easter Trading Hours – Retail

ACT and NT

No restrictions from Good Friday through to Anzac Day. 

NSW

Good Friday (15th April)                 CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)         No restrictions
Easter Sunday (17th April)            CLOSED
Easter Monday (18th April)          No restrictions
ANZAC Day (25th April)                 From 1pm 

TAS

Good Friday (15th April)                  CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)          No restrictions
Easter Sunday (17th April)              No restrictions
Easter Monday (18th April)            No restrictions
ANZAC Day (25th April)                   From 12:30pm
 

VIC

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           No restrictions
Easter Sunday (17th April)              No restrictions
Easter Monday (18th April)            No restrictions
ANZAC Day (25th April)                   From 1:00pm
 

QLD – SEQ

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           9am – 6pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)              9am – 6pm
Easter Monday (18th April)            9am – 6pm
ANZAC Day (25th April)                  CLOSED
 

QLD – Tourist Area

Good Friday (15th April)                    CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)            7am – 9pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)                7am – 9pm
Easter Monday (18th April)              7am – 9pm
ANZAC Day (25th April)                    CLOSED
 

QLD – In an area which, prior to 31 August 2017, had Sunday and public holiday trading.

Good Friday (15th April)                    CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)            9am – 6pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)               9am – 6pm
Easter Monday (18th April)             9am – 6pm
ANZAC Day (25th April)                    CLOSED
 

QLD – In an area which prior to 31 August 2017, did not have Sunday and public holiday trading.

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           8am – 6pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)               CLOSED
Easter Monday (18th April)             CLOSED
ANZAC Day (25th April)                    CLOSED
 

QLD – Non-exempt (large) hardware shops SEQ

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           6am – 6pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)              6am – 6pm
Easter Monday (18th April)            6am – 6pm
ANZAC Day (25th April)                  CLOSED
 

QLD – Non-exempt (large) hardware shops Defined tourist area

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           6am – 6pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)              6am – 6pm
Easter Monday (18th April)            6am – 6pm
ANZAC Day (25th April)                  CLOSED
 

QLD – Non-exempt (large) hardware shops in any other area

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           6am – 6pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)              6am – 6pm
Easter Monday (18th April)            6am – 6pm
ANZAC Day (25th April)                   CLOSED
 

SA – Hardware Stores

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           Until 5pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)               9am – 5pm
Easter Monday (18th April)             9am – 5pm
ANZAC Day (25th April)                   12pm – 5pm
 

WA – Perth Metro

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           8am – 5pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)              11am – 5pm
Easter Monday (18th April)            8am – 6pm
ANZAC Day (25th April)                   CLOSED
 

WA –Outside of Perth Metro*

Good Friday (15th April)                   CLOSED
Easter Saturday (16th April)           8am – 5pm
Easter Sunday (17th April)              CLOSED
Easter Monday (18th April)            CLOSED
ANZAC Day (25th April)                   CLOSED
 
* WA Regional trading hours vary.
Please click here for further information

First jury conviction against an individual for industrial manslaughter in Australia

 

In a first under Australian workplace health and safety laws, Gympie small business owner/Director, Mr Jeffrey Owen will spend at least 18 months behind bars after being found guilty of the industrial manslaughter of his friend who was helping Mr Owen out as a favour (highlighting the broad concept of “worker” that applies under all state and territory WHS laws).
 
The prosecution alleged multiple breaches of duty against Mr Owen. Most notably, the business did not have any documented health and safety procedures. Mr Owen was operating the forklift, unlicensed, at his place of business and overloaded it with a heavy generator that tipped and fatally crushed his friend who was assisting him with the task.
 
The indictable offence was heard before a jury in the Queensland District Court. After a four-hour deliberation, the jury found that Mr Owen (who pleaded not guilty) had caused his friend’s death by ‘negligently’ operating the forklift. The case is significant in that ‘negligence’, albeit negligence of a gross kind, was the touchstone for evaluating the guilt of Mr Owen. The Queensland District Court also heard that safe, alternative methods of unloading the generator were available at a low cost.
 
Mr Owen was sentenced to a five-year jail term (suspended after 18 months of actual prison time for an operational period of five years), with the maximum penalty for the offence being 20 years’ imprisonment. His Honour Judge Cash QC noted that while the deceased friend put himself in harm’s way, this did not relieve Owen of his responsibility to his friend as a ‘volunteer’ at the site.
 
This is the first time an individual has been prosecuted, convicted and jailed for industrial manslaughter since the offence was introduced in Queensland in 2017 under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).
 
Under this legislation, a corporation or an officer will be charged with industrial manslaughter if:

  1. a worker has died;
  2. the death is connected to work; and
  3. death occurred directly due to the corporation or officer’s negligent conduct.

The fatal incidents at Dreamworld and Eagle Farm prompted the introduction of a more direct route to company and senior officer liability (under ss 34C and 34D of the Act, respectively) in the event of death. The new offence of industrial manslaughter hinges on the concept of negligence, which is not limited by the reasonable practicability of the control measures that were missing. The reasonable practicability of control measures available to eliminate or reduce a given risk were at the core of the original model WHS laws as first introduced in participating states and territories.
 
The question of how ‘reasonable practicability’ fits into the content of the industrial manslaughter offence in Queensland remains contentious.  Some would argue that the ‘reasonable practicability’ of a given control measure is not actually part of working out liability for the Industrial Manslaughter offence in Queensland, at least not in a direct way. Reasonable practicability might often be a useful gauge of whether culpable negligence exists, but it’s not an explicit restriction on the scope of the offence.
 
As we currently understand the NSW Bill (introduced by the ALP) to introduce industrial manslaughter, the drafting of that offence does not take direct account of reasonable practicability of a given control measure available to the corporate offender. Instead, the focus is on the existence and level of negligence of the corporation and its senior officers in terms of meeting the duty of care imposed.                 
 
What all of this means is that it is now more important than ever for all corporate officers and managers (not just business owners) to ensure that forward looking due diligence systems are established and reviewed regularly in order to avoid incidents and fatalities in the workplace. Meeting a health and safety duty of care and avoiding “negligence’ is not a static obligation, it evolves with the technology and knowledge available to a business.
 
With the new government in South Australia and depending upon the colour of future governments in NSW and federally, the structure and enforcement of the industrial manslaughter offence in Queensland may become influential in those jurisdictions. The ACT, Victoria and the Northern Territory have already moved in this space.
 
It must be remembered that a Board member or senior officer based in NSW may face industrial manslaughter liability for an incident that occurs within the business in Queensland or Victoria. For that reason, nationally operating businesses may need to take account of the severity of the obligations in Queensland when setting the nationwide safety settings and goals for the business.
 
Here is an overview of industrial manslaughter laws in Australia:
 
ACT: A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) or an officer of a PCBU commits industrial manslaughter if they engage in conduct that breaches a WHS duty and causes a person’s death. The PCBU or officer must have been reckless or negligent about causing the death. The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual and a fine of approximately $17M for a company.

QLD: It is an offence for a PCBU or senior officer to negligently cause the death of a worker, including where a worker is injured carrying out work and later dies. The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment for an individual or a fine of approximately $10M for a company.

NSW: In late 2021, a Bill to introduce an industrial manslaughter offence passed the Legislative Council and is currently before the Legislative Assembly. Under the proposed legislation, a PCBU or senior officer commits the offence if a person dies at the workplace, or is injured at the workplace and later dies, and the PCBU or senior officer’s conduct caused the death. The PCBU or senior officer must have engaged in the conduct without reasonable excuse and have been grossly negligent or reckless. The maximum penalty is 25 years’ imprisonment for an individual and fines of approximately $10M for a company.

VIC: Industrial manslaughter offences apply where an employer negligently breaches a WHS duty owed to a worker causing death to that worker. The maximum penalty is 25 years’ imprisonment for an individual or a fine of approximately $18M for a company.

WA: The Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA) was passed in November 2020, bringing the state closer to the work health and safety laws in most other jurisdictions. It includes an industrial manslaughter offence, which arises when a duty holder (including officers of PCBUs in some situations) fails to comply with their health and safety duty and engages in conduct that causes the death of an individual, in the knowledge that the conduct was likely to result in death or serious harm, and in disregard of that likelihood. The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment and fines of approximately $5M for an individual and a fine of approximately $10M for a company.

NT: A PCBU or an officer of a PCBU commits industrial manslaughter if they intentionally engage in conduct which breaches a health and safety duty and causes the death of an individual to whom the health and safety duty was owed. The PCBU or officer must also be reckless or negligent about the conduct breaching the health and safety duty and causing the death of that individual. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for life for an individual and a fine of approximately $10M for companies.

SA: In late 2020, a Bill to create the offence of industrial manslaughter was introduced in a Private Member’s Bill. Under the Bill, an employer (or an officer of the employer) would commit the offence if they were in breach of their duty of care and their breach caused the death of a worker. They also had to be ‘recklessly indifferent’ as to whether their conduct would create a substantial risk of serious harm. However, the second reading of the Bill was adjourned and there have been no further updates on whether the Bill will be reintroduced for debate.

TAS: Industrial manslaughter is not currently an offence in Tasmania. There are no Bills before the Tasmanian Parliament to introduce an industrial manslaughter offence.
 
If this article has raised concerns for your business please get in touch for a confidential discussion on how ABLA can help. Email info@ablawyers.com.au or call 1300 565 846.

Source: Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors