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  • HR Heartbeat: The Federal Budget for SMEs, changes to child employment, and...

HR Heartbeat: The Federal Budget for SMEs, changes to child employment, and...

Dive into this week’s HR Heartbeat for a peek into what the Federal Budget promises SMEs, changes to the Victorian Child Employment Act 2003, why marriage and employment contracts don’t mix and more.

First published on Monday, May 22, 2023

Last updated on Friday, May 19, 2023

3 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

What you need to know about the latest trends impacting employers all over Australia. Keep up to date with the HR Heartbeat.

Let’s get into the headlines.

The Federal Budget 2023-24 has sunk in

Now that the country’s had time to absorb the Federal Budget for 2023-24, let’s break it down.

With small businesses employing over 5 million people, the government makes it a point to recognise their economic value. So, it’s no surprise that there are several key initiatives to help small businesses on their way.


  • The Energy Price Relief Plan to shield small businesses from short-term high energy prices by limiting Australia's exposure to international energy price shocks and providing around 1 million small businesses with direct bill relief.

  • An instant asset write-off to make it easier for small businesses to invest and grow. Up to 3.8 million small businesses will be able to immediately deduct eligible assets costing less than $20,000 from 1st July 2023 until 30th June 2024.

  • Cash flow relief for approximately 2.1 million eligible small businesses by slashing the increase in their quarterly tax instalments for GST and income tax in 2023–24. Instalments will only increase by 6% instead of 12%.

  • An investment of $23.4 million to help small businesses build their cyber security resilience.

  • A new $392.4 million Industry Growth Program to help support innovation in SMEs and startups.

Naturally, there are eligibility requirements for many of these initiatives. But it’s still a good year to be an SME in Australia—at least from a budgetary perspective.

Changes to the Victorian Child Employment Act 2003

From July 1st 2023, state child labour laws for Victoria are changing. So, it’s time for a quick refresher on the changes.

The Victorian Child Employment Act is changing from its very foundation, because:

  • The definition of employment for children and certain activities under the definition are changing.

  • The child employment licencing structure will now also cover children working for not-for-profit organisations.

  • The meaning of family business has been updated to make sure that exclusions only apply to children working in their own family’s business.

  • Children under the age of 15 in the workplace must now be supervised by individuals who are 18 or older.

  • New record-keeping requirements have been put in place.

And of course, penalties for breaching the Act have increased.

If your company is currently or is hoping to employ young workers in the future, remember that child employment laws do differ between states and territories. So, make sure you’re in line with your specific obligations at all times.

Our BrightAdvice team are here to help support you with your decision-making and figure out what laws you need to follow.

Disingenuous redundancy

A jurisdictional objection raised by a company against a Software Engineer who claimed her dismissal was not a genuine redundancy has been dismissed by the Commission.

Why? Many reasons. Starting with the fact that the Commission found that the decision was made before engaging in any form of consultation with the employee. The efforts for consultation that were made, were at best, superficial.

But it didn’t end there, it seems that the employer also assumed that the employee would not travel to India for a redeployment opportunity and chose to not offer her the role in the first place.

Commissioner Platt says it best, “It is dangerous for Employers with redeployment options to fetter offers based on their own prejudices”.

And so, her unfair dismissal case will progress. You can see more of the case, here.

To have and to resign

While we’re on the topic of decisions being made on behalf of someone else, we have to talk about this case.

If this wasn’t already a given, now the Federal Circuit and Family Court have stepped in to confirm that marriage does not give a spouse the right to terminate their partner’s employment for them.

This confirmation comes in the wake of an HR manager assuming that a conversation with an employee’s husband was equivalent to the employee’s resignation. On the contrary, the employee had simply asked her husband to speak to her manager because she was too upset to have the conversation herself at the time.

As a result of the HR manager’s behaviour, the employee claimed a successful contravention of her general protections and the HR manager was fined.

Here’s the lesson—employment matters, especially when it comes to employment contracts, must be addressed directly with employees. Unless the employee has authorised another person to speak for them formally, preferably in writing. Explore the full case, here.

That wraps up this edition of HR Heartbeat. Stay tuned for more headlines and all the latest updates that will keep you in the know with all the major employment changes coming your way.

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