The Federal Government has released the Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS).
The FWIS can be downloaded from Fair Work Online at http://www.fairwork.gov.au.
The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act) requires that a copy of the FWIS be given to all new employees who commence employment after 1 January 2010. For casual employees, who may be engaged a number of times during the course of any year, the employer is only required to provide the FWIS once in any 12 month period.
Penalties of up to $6,600 for individuals and $33,000 for corporations apply for failure to comply.
The FWIS can be given to employees in any of the following ways:
- by giving a hard copy of the FWIS personally to the employee
- mailing a hard copy by pre-paid post to the employee's residential address or a postal address nominated by the employee
- emailing the FWIS to the employee's email address at work or another email address nominated by the employee
- emailing to the employee's work email address an electronic link to the page of the Fair Work Ombudsman's website on which the FWIS is located
- emailing to the employee's email address an electronic link that takes the employee directly to a copy of the FWIS on the employer's intranet, or
- faxing the FWIS to the employee's fax number at work or the employee's fax number at home or another fax number nominated by the employee.
Employers should keep a record of the date that the FWIS is provided to an employee and the manner in which it is provided.
The FWIS is a fact sheet which outlines information about an employee's rights and entitlements at work. Specifically, the FWIS provides information about:
- the National Employment Standards
- modern awards
- agreement making under the Act
- the right to freedom of association
- termination of employment
- individual flexibility arrangements
- right of entry
- the role of Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Modern awards will contain minimum terms and conditions of employment that employers must meet in relation to employees to whom an award applies. Modern awards are scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2010 and will affect many employers who have not previously had to deal with industrial awards before. One of the challenges for employers will be reconciling their existing annual salary systems with the requirement, contained in modern awards, that employees be paid in terms of a basic rate for ordinary hours plus separate enhanced payments or allowances for work performed in particular situations (eg. overtime, shift work etc.).
The reference to "freedom of association" encompasses the new and extensive "general protection" provisions found in Chapter 3 of the Act. These provisions equip employees with legal recourse, and powerful remedies including damages and injunctions, if the employer has taken "adverse action" in relation to the employees' "workplace rights" or "industrial activities". Each of these concepts is given a very broad definition in the Act. All employers must be mindful that decisions which they make in relation to their workforce can be scrutinised by reference to any potentially adverse impact on the rights and industrial activities of current and prospective employees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.