What’s changing in Aussie employment law?

As an employer or business owner, it’s your responsibility to stay on top of any changes in Australian employment law. We’re here to help.

First published on Monday, May 13, 2024

Last updated on Friday, May 10, 2024

6 min read

Making sure you’re up to date with the latest legislation is key to ensuring your business is in line with the law.

Being prepared helps you avoid costly penalties and fines.

In this blog post, we’ll take you through the major employment relations updates you need to know to protect your business and your people in 2024. Here’s a look into a few of the major changes coming to the following areas of employment relations this year.

Casual employment

The definition of casual employee will be replaced with a new definition in the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act).

These changes will reform the pathway to the rules for casual employees to become permanent employees if they wish.

New rules will also be in place against dismissing workers or threatening to do so in order to engage them as casual employees or misrepresenting casual employment in the organisation.

Key impacts for you

If you currently employ casual employees or are planning to hire employees on a casual basis, it’s important to update your policies and strategies to align with these changes. Using digital tools and secure, central storage can help you collect and store the documentation you need for easy access.

These changes make it important to be aware of the practical reality of the employment relationship and not just the contractual status of your casual employees. Once these changes come into effect, there will be one clear pathway for an employee to progress from a casual to a permanent worker within the Act.

Access to employment relations advisers can help you alleviate any questions on how these changes affect your business.


These changes come into effect on 26 August 2024.

Right to disconnect

Under these changes, eligible employees will have the right to disconnect outside of their working hours.

This will give eligible employees the protected right to disconnect. Employees may refuse to monitor, read, or respond to contact—or attempted contact—from their employer or their workplace outside of their usual working hours.

Specific rules will govern whether an employee’s refusal is unreasonable or not.

Key impacts for you

Effective communication with your employees and between your employees is a cornerstone of well-functioning business operations. This new right will prompt you to re-examine your methods and frequency of contact as well as your policies surrounding communications.

It’s important to set expectations and rules that cut out the need for unreasonable contact outside of working hours without affecting your day-to-day activities.

Updating documents like your employee handbook and communicating with employees about the importance of getting some downtime from work will help you strike a healthy balance. Managing shift and holiday planning with digital software can also improve visibility amongst your teams and cut out the need for back-and-forth communication.

Open shift software can also help you alert employees to available shifts that they can pick up on a first come first served basis with minimal disruptions.


These changes come into effect on 26 August 2024 for non-small businesses, and 12 months later on 26 August 2025 for small businesses.

Minimum standards for ‘employee-like’ workers

These changes allow the Fair Work Commission to set minimum standards for those workers who are in ‘employee-like’ forms of work. This includes those engaged in the gig economy performing certain types of work.

Key impacts for you

These changes will create more guidelines for the employment of ‘employee-like’ workers. So, if you currently engage, or plan to engage, some workers who fit this category then it’s best to stay on top of these updates.

Workers using digital platforms may also benefit from cybersecurity awareness and training courses.


These changes come into effect on 26 August 2024, or an earlier date set by the Australian Government.

Independent contractors

The Fair Work Commission will be able to resolve disputes between certain independent contractors and principals about unfair terms in service contracts.

If the FWC does deem a contract term to be unfair, it will have the power to change the terms and make parts of the contract or the whole contract ineffective.

Key impacts for you

These changes are meant to give independent contractors a mode of dispute resolution and the right to challenge unfair terms in their contracts.

The disputes brought to the FWC must be of the kind that would have been a workplace relations issue if the working relationship had been an employment relationship.

Make sure you have the right documentation in place for both record-keeping purposes, as well as to guide your working relationships.


These changes come into effect on 26 August 2024, or an earlier date set by the Australian Government.

Definition of employment

A new interpretive principle will be introduced when determining whether a person is an ‘employer’ or an individual is an ‘employee’ under the Act.

This will mean that the practical reality of the employment relationship will be considered as well as the contracts governing the relationship.

Key impacts for you

These changes will not change the day-to-day operations of your business. In fact, most workers and businesses will be unaffected by these amendments.

It’s generally quite clear when someone is an employee as opposed to a contractor. This amendment will make it easier in circumstances where the working relationship is more ambiguous and the line between worker and contractor is blurred.

Make sure you’re staying on top of your HR documentation and record-keeping obligations. Handy templates can help you cut down on your HR admin hours, while cloud-based storage features can help you keep all the information you need at your fingertips.


These changes come into effect on 26 August 2024, or an earlier date set by the Australian Government.

These are just some of the upcoming changes as a result of Closing Loopholes laws.

Want to find out what else is on the horizon for employment relations in 2024 and beyond?

Download our full in-depth guide to the Closing Loopholes changes for FREE and get essential advice as well as resources to help you stay informed and get ahead of major developments on the horizon.

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