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New workplace relations and safety laws to better protect Australians at work

Amendments to workplace relations and safety laws came into effect on January 1 2013, which are set to better protect Australians at work.

Acting minister for employment and workplace relations Kate Ellis said that these reforms bring about much-needed improvements.

“These changes usher in reforms to the workplace relations system and provide more Australians with the benefit of nationally harmonised work health and safety laws,” Ms Ellis said in a statement.

The reforms are part of the Fair Work Amendment Act 2012 which was passed by parliament in November last year.

One major change is the renaming of the national workplace relations tribunal – now called the Fair Work Commission.

In addition, some significant changes have been made to unfair dismissals claims processes.

The Fair Work Commission now has the right to dismiss certain applications under specific circumstances.

There has also been improvements to ‘cost order provisions’ in a bid to “discourage unreasonable conduct that causes costs for both parties”, Ms Ellis’ statement reads.

As well as this, the timeframe for making unfair dismissal claims has been aligned across states, now at 21 days.

Ms Ellis said that each of these changes should serve to better protect workers as well as minimise red tape.

“These changes achieve an important balance – protecting workers from unfair dismissal while minimising unreasonable claims and ensuring small business does not get bogged down with unnecessary red tape, unreasonable conduct and vexatious litigation,” Ms Ellis explained.

The Fair Work Amendment Act 2012 was passed after extensive consultation with key stakeholders, such as the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Australia.

It also implements changes that were outlined in the Fair Work Act Review, which was conducted independently.

Workers should do their best to understand the amendments, as it is important to know your rights.

While brushing up on the changed laws, it may also be worthwhile to review workplace health and safety legislation in your state.

The new year is a great opportunity to make sure that you understand your legal rights and obligations in the workplace.

If you are ever unfairly dismissed, injured onsite or the victim of any other sort of negligence, then it is advised that you speak to a legal professional.

There are lawyers in Sydney who specialise in workers compensation and personal injury law. They operate on a no win no fee basis, meaning that you will not be charged unless your claim is successful.

© 2013 
Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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