There have been a number of enquiries from tree contractors of late in regard to redundancy provisions and entitlements for employees when they are terminated due to slow-down in work.

Prior to the commencement of the National Employment Standards (NES) on January 1, 2010 under the Fair Work Act 2009, redundancy pay previously had only been a legal entitlement for award/agreement-covered employees. However, the NES now provides a statutory entitlement to redundancy pay for all full-time and part-time employees employed by a company that is not a small business, including award/agreement-free employees.

Employees Excluded From Redundancy Pay

The NES redundancy pay scale does not apply to an employee’s termination of employment if, immediately before the time of the termination due to redundancy, or at the time when the person was given notice of the termination:

  • The employer employs less than 15 full-time employees
  • (NB: the small employer redundancy scale still applies in the Timber Industry Award)
  • An employee has less than 12 months of continuous service with the employer
  • The person is a casual employee
  • The employee is terminated because of serious misconduct
  • The employee is employed for a specified task, or a specified period of time, or a specified season
  • A training arrangement applies to the employee and his/her employment is for a specified period of time, or limited to the period of the training arrangement
  • The employee is an apprentice
  • An industry-specific redundancy scheme in a modern award applies to the employee or is incorporated into an enterprise agreement which applies to the employee

Members are advised to contact TTIA on (02) 9264 0011 to discuss a range of issues that need to be addressed in these circumstances including consultation, alternative employment, severance scale, and appropriate documentation when terminating an employee due to redundancy.

Review of Australia’s Workplace Health And Safety

Safe Work Australia has undertaken a review of Australia’s Workplace Health & Safety and has made 34 recommendations to enhance the legal framework, including tougher penalties for non-compliance. The report, which was publicly unveiled on February 25, has been given to relevant ministers for consideration.

Although the model WHS laws are largely operating as intended, the changes are recommended to provide clarity and to drive greater consistency in the application and enforcement of the laws across jurisdictions.

Among the recommendations put to political leaders are the development of regulations specifically covering psychological health, clarifying what is considered to be meaningful consultation, representation and participation, as well as an increase in penalties and the introduction of other measures to “strengthen the compliance and enforcement framework and enhance deterrence”. The report also called for:

  • Continuous assessment of new industries, hazards, and working arrangements
  • The provision of practical examples to help employers engage with their workforces on matters of health and safety.
  • New arrangements to allow for workgroups within small businesses
  • The removal of 24-hour notification periods for entry permit holders
  • A review of incident notification provisions

The full report can be found on the Safe Work Australia website.

TTIA has an in-house, timber industry-specific, WHS unit which can assist employers with advice and practical solutions to comply with WHS standards, rules and regulations. To book a WHS check-up please contact Ken Hocking on 0418 280 335.

Please contact TTIA on (02) 9264 0011 if you wish to have further information.

Brian Beecroft

Chief Executive Officer

Words | Brian Beecroft, TTIA Ceo

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