Your preferred office location:
  1. Home
  2. /
  3. HHG Articles
  4. /
  5. Employment & Industrial Relations
  6. /
  7. New Industrial Relations Reforms – The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020
11 Dec 2020

Kimberly Jones in our Employment law team explains that on Wednesday, 9 December 2020, after discussions with various stakeholders and titbits of information about the bill being released earlier in the week, the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 (FW Bill) was introduced to Parliament.

The Fair Work Amendment Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery Bill 2020 In article

The FW Bill is to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) to assist Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The government’s proposed amendments to the FW Act are said to provide more clarity and certainty to employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities, while promoting flexibility in employment relationships, and a more streamlined and usable industrial relations system.

As this is the last week of Parliament for 2020, we expect to see much debate on the provisions of the FW Bill in 2021.

The proposed changes are vast, and we will continue to provide updates on the reforms from time to time. However, in this article, we focus on 3 of the major changes that are likely to impact our clients, being those relating to casual employment, ‘flex up’ provisions for part-time employees taking on additional hours, and compliance and enforcement provisions.

Casual employment

Casual employment has been an issue that we have discussed with many clients in 2020, mostly on the back of the decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato [2020] FCAFC 84 (Rossato). Our article earlier this year discussed casual employment and the Rossato decision.

Essentially, there has been a lot of confusion over what exactly constitutes a ‘casual’ employee, and concerns about the consequences of wrongly classifying an employee as ‘casual’, including potential payments for unpaid entitlements on top of any casual loading (known as ‘double-dipping’).

The government has been under pressure to address these issues and seeks to do so through the FW Bill by:

  1. Defining the meaning of a ‘casual employee’ in the FW Act, which focuses on the start of the employment relationship;
  2. Setting out a procedure for conversion of casual employment to full-time or part-time employment (already included in modern award provisions);
  3. Allowing the Fair Work Commission to deal with disputes about casual conversion (on a limited basis);
  4. Requiring casual employees to be provided with a Casual Employment Information Statement; and
  5. Enabling casual loading amounts to be offset against claims for leave and other entitlements (to prevent ‘double-dipping’).

These amendments are meant to give employers confidence and flexibility to create jobs and encourage rehiring of casuals who lost their jobs during the pandemic. 

In focusing the definition of casual employment on the initial agreement between the parties, rather than the actual circumstances of employment at the time, this is a substantial change from the current common law position.

Part-time employment

The FW Bill enables some award covered part-time employees to agree with their employers to work additional hours outside of their ordinary hours of work at ordinary time rates instead of overtime rates.

Compliance and enforcement

The FW Bill introduces a new criminal offence for underpayment where there have been dishonest and systematic wage underpayments. 

The maximum penalty will be $1.11 million and four years imprisonment for individuals and up to $5.5 million for a body corporate. If an individual director is convicted under this offence, they may face disqualification from managing a body corporate under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

There is also an increase in the value and scope of civil penalties for non-compliance with the FW Act, and a simplified approach to deal with small claims.

Other major changes

The FW Bill proposes major changes to the current federal industrial relations system, and we have touched on just a few of these above.

Other proposed changes include those relating to:

  • enterprise bargaining, including streamlined negotiation and approval processes;
  • Greenfields Agreements;
  • additional flexibility for employers to respond to the ongoing effects of COVID-19; and
  • a revised Better Off Overall Test (BOOT).

Despite consultation with stakeholders before the introduction of the FW Bill, some of the changes have been criticised for not adequately balancing the interests of both employers and employees to improve the current industrial relation system.  

It is also arguable that there have been some opportunities missed in drafting the FW Bill, including properly addressing the complexity of the current modern award system, and resolving issues brought about by the gig economy.

In any event, employers must become familiar with the proposed changes and assess how these may affect their business in 2021 and beyond.

As with any major legislative change, the FW Bill provides an opportunity for businesses to review their current employment practices and forward plan to address any concerns or changes required.


If you have any queries or concerns about your current employment practices, including those relating to the FW Bill, we can provide you with advice and assistance to guide you through these issues. Please contact us via email or call us on 1800 609 945 to make an appointment.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australians for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"

Sitka Pil

"My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"

Nathan Lynch

"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."

Jim Goodwin

"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"

Dr Lana Bell

"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."

Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at Mckinley Plowman & Associates

"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."

Richard Beal, Director at BDO

"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."

Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."

Bernice Climie

"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."

Amanda Williamson

"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."

Kerry Samson

"I had a fantastic lawyer in Matthew Lilly. He helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Matthew"

Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm - Marine Plant Systems

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO Altusq Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Matthew."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Lawyer in Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker

"Lisa, thank you so much for representing me in court, honestly, I would not have had the outcome I got without you. Once again, Thank you so much."


"Matthew Lilly was excellent in processing our project. He achieved the excellent result that we required on our project.

We would give Matthew a 5 star rating.

We will definitely commission Matthew for any further projects if we have the need."


"I have had the pleasure of being represented by Ms Lisa Riley. Lisa helped me in December 2020 when I was charged. Lisa was extremely supportive, reassuring, and preserved with her investigation of the laws and was able to save me from a terrible outcome. Another incident occurred in August 2021 in which I sought Lisa’s help. Lisa preserved and was very patient with me. This only got resolved this year. When she advised me that she was leaving her old firm, I insisted that she remain my lawyer, as I had the utmost faith in her. Hence I moved over to HHG. Lisa took no shortcuts in my defence and continued to preserve for the toxicology report that ultimately saved me. She kept me up-to-date with the progress and provided support. Having someone as understanding as Lisa was a huge gift, to me and my family. You have gained a huge asset in Lisa joining your firm.

Thank you, Lisa, forever grateful for your work, and if ever needed, I will be sure to refer to you"


"We can highly recommend HHG Legal Group and particularly Mr Blair Campbell (Special Counsel / Dispute Resolution)

Blair worked with us as we navigated a very difficult third party dispute.

Blair’s expertise, wisdom, and the way he guided us in a very measured and calm manner gave us great encouragement and comfort. Blair helped us to focus on what we needed to and to trust the process.

Blair was always responsive to us, he always got back to us very promptly to answer our questions and to help us to step through some really hard days.

We are very grateful for Blair’s expertise and wisdom along with his empathy and care, this truly made the difference for us."

Wayne and Janice Belcher

Preferred office location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.