New Year, New Laws

The New Year’s brings new laws including added protection for police dogs in SA, changes to the way fuel prices are advertised in NSW and SA and a requirement for real estate agents in SA to give a single figure as the genuine estimate of the selling price.  At the end of 2014, commercial solarium tanning units will be banned in NSW.

Closer to home, Territorians should be mindful of the changes to employment laws including the granting of new powers to the Fair Work Commission to deal with workplace bullying.  Both workers and employers should familiarise themselves with the new laws.  Steps to take if you are an employer include making sure you have an up-to-day workplace bullying policy that includes an internal complaint procedure and conducting regular staff training.  These changes are over and above existing occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation laws.

Modern awards and enterprise agreements must now have a term requiring genuine consultation on roster changes or working hours.  Before making a change, employers must tell the worker, let the worker give their views on the change and consider these views.  Failure to do this also puts employers at risk of breaching the requirements of the National Employment Standards.

Significant changes are soon to be made to the Privacy Act.  This law protects personal information handled by large businesses and health service providers of any size.  Although the changes do not come into force until 12 March 2014, businesses should start preparing now.   Changes include how businesses can handle and process personal information, use personal information for direct market and disclose personal information to people overseas.