The start of a new year always promises to be a busy time for employers. In this article, we outline key changes that employers should be aware of in 2022.
Additional step if new employees do not choose their own super fund
If a new employee does not nominate a super fund of their choice, employers must now take an additional step. This change came into effect on 1 November 2021.
Employers will need to request the employee’s ‘stapled super fund’ details from the Australian Taxation Office. A stapled super fund is an existing superannuation account that is linked to an employee. Previously, employers could make superannuation payments to their default fund if employees did not nominate a super fund.
The purpose of this new step is to limit the number of accounts that are opened each time an employee commences a new job.
Employers should now:
- assist new employees with understanding the super standard choice form
- remind new employees of the benefits of choosing their own super fund
- direct new employees to the ATO’s guidance on super for individuals to enable them to understand how they can find their super fund details.
It is important to remember that employers cannot mandate, recommend or influence employees to choose a particular super fund. Employers who fail to comply with the new requirement could receive a ‘choice shortfall penalty’, which increases the superannuation guarantee charge payable by the employer.
Black Coal Mining Industry Award – amendments in effect from 28 January 2022
Amendments to the Black Coal Mining Industry Award will come into effect on 28 January 2022.
The key change applies to employees who are 6-day or 7-day roster employees or regular weekend workers. All time worked outside ordinary hours will be paid for at:
- 200% of the minimum hourly rate
- 300% of the minimum hourly rate on public holidays.
Previously, no additional provision was made for public holidays for these employees.
Employers should review their enterprise agreements and any individual flexibility arrangements in employment contracts to ensure they are compliant with the upcoming changes. This will be particularly important in circumstances where employees are paid a flat hourly rate of pay for all hours worked.
Religious Discrimination Bill – inquiry and report to be finalised by 4 February 2022
On 25 November 2021, the Federal Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 was introduced into Parliament to secure greater rights and protections for religious bodies than what is contained in existing state-based legislation.
The Bill will impact bodies that are conducted in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of a particular religion, including educational institutions and registered charities.
It provides that a religious body does not discriminate against a person by engaging, in good faith, in conduct that a person of the same religion could reasonably consider to be in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of that religion. This includes giving preference to persons of the same religion as the religious body.
Religious schools will not contravene a state or territory law if they give preference to persons who hold or engage in a particular religious belief or activity (e.g. in recruitment), provided the conduct is in accordance with a publicly available written policy that outlines the school’s position regarding particular religious beliefs or activities and how the position will be enforced.
Additionally, the Bill will prevent discrimination on the ground of a person’s religious belief or activity in a range of areas, including work, education, access to premises and sport.
LGBTIQ+ advocacy groups have raised concerns that the Bill will override the existing protections for LGBTIQ+ people in religious organisations and provide unbalanced power to these organisations.
On 2 December 2021, the Senate referred the Bill to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 4 February 2022.
Employers should consider whether the Bill will impact their organisation and keep a close eye on its progress during the early months of 2022.