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  • HR Heartbeat: NSW’s mental illness epidemic, gender pay reporting, and...

HR Heartbeat: NSW’s mental illness epidemic, gender pay reporting, and...

Get the update on the Government’s superannuation update, the WGEA’s name and shame game, the update on non-compete clauses and more.

First published on Tuesday, Mar 19, 2024

Last updated on Monday, Mar 18, 2024

6 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Everything 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 state of the mental health crisis

The executive director of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Samuel Harvey, has spoken out, stating that the New South Wales mental health system is “on the brink of collapse” and severely underfunded. He said, “We are seeing mental health services stretched to their limits, the mental health workforce is burnt out, and people who need help are falling through the cracks.”

This comes at a time when the state is experiencing a mental illness epidemic, with a 2023 report finding that mental issues accounted for 15% of the state’s total burden of disease.

Businessowners and employers in NSW may already be concerned about these events on a personal level, but it could also have a major effect on your workplace. As NSW is forced to reckon with how its total health budget is spent and the fact that its funding is currently being outpaced by other territories and states, it’s important that you as a leader in the workplace examine what steps you’re taking to protect your employees.

Employee health and wellbeing plays a huge role in your business productivity and resilience in the long term. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your employees have access to resources and support for their health to help them navigate any challenges they face.

International Women's Day & gender pay reporting

International Women’s Day fell on Friday, the 8th of March. And it came on the heels of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) naming and shaming employers who aren’t pulling their weight to close the gender pay gap.

The Agency recently acquired the power to publish gender pay gap data from employers with 100 or more employees and released its employer data on the 27th of February. The result has revealed the persistent discrepancies between the average pay for men and women. Men, on average, are paid 14% more than women for their base salary and 19% more in their total remuneration.

For some companies, like banks, consulting firms, and private schools this mismatch sits at a gaping 24-35%.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was inspire inclusion. The Government marked the occasion by pledging 12% superannuation to be paid on publicly funded paid parental leave starting from July 2024 in an initiative that is yet to be announced. Data has shown us that women retire with around 25% less to show in their super fund compared to men, and this move from the Government has the potential to change that.

As an employer, ensuring that you’re paying your staff fairly and maintaining equitable payroll management is a vital part of keeping your employees loyal and productive, while also staying on top of your legal obligations. Accurate payroll reporting can help you maintain an overview of your records and rectify any blunders.

Superannuation supercharged

The end is in sight for the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) review into the superannuation clauses of 155 modern awards and enterprise awards.

This process kicked off in September 2022 on the FWC’s initiative, with the aim of ensuring that the clauses accurately reflect current superannuation requirements.

Updates to superannuation legislations also mean that many awards no longer reflect the latest requirements. The review also found two modern awards—the Supported Employment Services Award and the Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award—contained the outdated superannuation guarantee percentage of 9.5%.

Stay tuned for more updates and make sure you’re following your relevant award regulations. Keep up with your legal obligations with support from our 24/7 employment relations advice line. If you’re not already a BrightAdvice customer, learn more about the value of having a team of employment relations professionals at your fingertips here.

Update on non-compete clauses

In the last edition of HR Heartbeat, we mentioned that alarm bells were ringing over the impacts non-compete clauses could have on the market and economy. Here’s the update.

An issues paper is set to be released in the next few months, with the Assistant Minister for Competition Dr Andrew Leigh announcing a review into non-compete clauses in employment.

His particular concern appears to be the non-compete clauses used by about 20% of employers, which he claims blocks employees from stepping up to better paying jobs with competitors like start-up companies.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that:

  • 46.9% of businesses reported using at least one type of restraint clause
  • Almost half of employers use non-disclosure clauses

Stay tuned to see how this develops and what it could mean for your future employment contracts.

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.

If you’ve got questions about the top HR headlines from this week, ask BrightLightning:

What are equal remuneration orders?

Under the Fair Work Act, the Fair Work Commission can make an equal remuneration order, which requires certain employees be given equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value. An application for an equal remuneration order can be made by: -an affected employee -a union representing an employee -the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. The Commission can also make an equal remuneration order on its own initiative.

What do modern award terms say about superannuation?

Modern awards usually have a term requiring employers covered by the award to make contributions to a superannuation fund for the benefit of an employee covered by the award.

What is the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023?

The Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 is a rollout of changes to current laws aimed at improving workplace gender equality in Australia. In summary, employers with more than 100 employees will see their reporting obligations broaden with the aim to increase employer transparency by requiring CEOs to disclose certain information to their boards. It's best to speak with an adviser if you require any advice regarding the workplace gender equality updates.

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