Closing Loopholes Bill – Split by the Senate

Crossbench intervention has interfered with the Federal Government’s industrial relations bill, prompting a split in the legislation proposed by the Fair Work Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 (Closing Loopholes Bill).

The Federal Government’s attempt to make a raft of major changes to industrial relations laws this year looks set to fail, after some of the crossbench secured support for a different approach.

On 9 November 2023 Senators David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie, backed by the Coalition, One Nation and other crossbenchers, brought forward a successful vote of their motion to break away elements of the Closing Loopholes Bill into four separate bills.

On 9 November 2023, only four of the proposed changes to the Fair Work Legislation Amendment were passed, including:

  • Better support for first responders diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), by reducing the required onus of proof for first responders by creating a presumption that PTSD was caused by the job;
  • Protections for workers experiencing domestic violence, so their employers cannot discriminate against them;
  • The remit of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency will be extended to cover silica and silicosis in an attempt to better protect workers who use the materials; and
  • Employees will be entitled to redundancy payments, regardless of the size of the business.

Generally speaking, the above changes received near unanimous support. However, this is not the case for a number of other changes proposed by the Closing Loopholes Bill, including but not limited to the proposed new definition for casual employment and “Same Job, Same Pay” for labour hire workers, which have continued to face strong opposition in Senate debates.

Looking to the immediate future for the Closing Loopholes Bill, Senator Pocock said there was a “long way to run” before further changes could be voted on, all but ruling out a vote this year.

Written By Michael Franzone – Associate, Workplace Relations

CCIWA, Business Law WA and REEFWA has taken all reasonable care in preparing this document. The contents of this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific advice for your situation should be sought from CCIWA, Business Law WA or a professional adviser before any action is taken. Neither REEFWA, CCIWA nor Business Law WA accept responsibility for any claim that arises from any person acting or refraining from acting on the information contained in this document.

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