Changes to Australian Workplace Laws and Regulations 2023

There are certain changes and updates in workplace laws and regulations that will be in effect in 2023. This includes reforms in the Fair Work Act (2009) which is a federal legislative instrument.

A key feature of the Fair Work Act is the National Employment Standard that is a list of 11 minimum entitlements that all employees must receive.

One of the key changes is the new workplace regulation that limits the use of fixed-term contracts. This will come into effect in December 2023.

The legislation limits the use of fixed-term contract for the same role beyond 2 years. This also includes renewals and two consecutive contracts.

If this requirement is breached, the employee will then be considered as a permanent employee.

Zombie agreements

Zombie agreements are those where an employee is covered by an agreement made before 2010. In other words, it can be understood as an agreement that was made before the commencement of the Fair Work Act.

Zombie agreements refer to agreements that were established during the period of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (WR Act) and were retained after the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009.

These agreements encompass collective agreements under the WR Act, as well as state agreements that were active before transitioning into the federal Fair Work system.

Additionally, zombie agreements include agreements made during the period between the repeal of the WR Act and the commencement of the Fair Work Act, i.e., between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2009.

Moreover, the employers who have covered employees on zombie agreement must provide a written notice notifying the employees of these changes on or before the 6th of June 2023.  Employees who fail to provide this notice may face certain penalties.

Alternatively, employers may opt to extend the default period for the pre-2010 agreement or zombie agreement.

Author info

John Bui is the Principal Solicitor of JB Solicitors – a law firm based in Sydney, Australia. John is a Nationally Accredited family law Mediator and Arbitrator with over 10 years’ experience in family law and commercial litigation.