What are the new industrial relations reforms?

The global pandemic altered the way we work and live. More than ever, businesses and employees require flexible and revised arrangements which fit the shifting modern workplace. New industrial relations reforms amending the Fair Work Act 2009 which came into effect on 27 March 2021 have introduced new rules to accommodate these needs.


This article provides a simple summary of key changes and a helpful infographic outlining the key industrial relations reforms. Click the button below to save a PDF copy and ensure your business is compliant with developments in employment law!


1. Revised approval process for proposed agreements

Employers must take reasonable steps to ensure that relevant employees are given a fair and reasonable opportunity to decide whether they approve a proposed agreement.


2. New casual conversion rules

If an eligible casual employee has been employed for over 12 months and has been working a regular pattern of hours, the employer is required to offer them permanent employment or provide them with reasons why they are not making them an offer.


3. Flexible working arrangements

  • Duties: Employers can direct eligible employees to perform any duties within their competency if the employee has a relevant licence/qualification and the duties are safe and reasonably within the scope of the business operations.
  • Location: Employers can direct eligible employees to perform duties at a place that is different from normal (including home) if it is suitable, safe and reasonably within the scope of the business operations.


4. Simplified additional hours agreement

  • Eligible part-time employees can agree to work additional hours at ordinary time rates of pay by entering into a simplified additional hours agreement.
  • The employee’s ordinary hours of work must be at least 16 hours per week.
  • Employers cannot force eligible part-time employees to enter into these agreements.


5. New criminal and civil penalties

  • A criminal offence has been introduced for employers who dishonestly engage in a systematic pattern of underpaying employees.
  • It is now an offence to publish job advertisements with pay rates specified as below the relevant national minimum wage. Civil penalties apply.


The content in this article is current as at the date of publication, however the law is constantly changing. It is your responsibility to keep up to date with changes and seek professional advice.


If you would like any further assistance in understanding your obligations as an employer or changes to the Fair Work Act, please contact us at or 1300 033 934.