THE NEW time-keeping regulations to be introduced under the WorkChoices legislation, recently announced by the federal Minister of Employment and Workplace Relations, is one based on common sense, an employment law expert announced this week.
David Thompson, employment law partner of law firm Hunt & Hunt, claims the time-keeping regulations will minimise what could have been a time-consuming an unnecessary burden on employers.
Under the changes, employers will not be required to keep track of the working hours of employees who are not paid overtime, unless the employee earns less than $55,000 per year.
WorkChoices introduced the previous administrative burden by stipulating that employers record hours of work for all employees, including those on awards or covered by industrial agreements. Before WorkChoices, there was no statutory obligation to do so.
There are three categories of employees to consider under the amendment, according to Neil Napper, partner at Deacons. “According to the Minister’s announcement, where you’ve got an employee who is paid an annual salary less than $55,000 per year and who already has some sort of entitlement to receive overtime payments, then the employers have to keep records about the starting and finishing times and their total hours worked. In other words, there’s no change from the existing requirements of the regulations.
“However, if you’ve got an employee who’s paid an annual salary of less than $55,000 per year, but there is no entitlement for that employee to be paid overtime, then all the employer has to do is keep records of the total hours worked rather than their daily starting and finishing times,” he said.
The second category applies to employees who are paid an annual salary of $55,000 or more and who also have some sort of entitlement to overtime under a contract, award or industrial agreement. Employers are required to keep records of starting and finishing times for such employees.
There is no obligation to keep any records for the final category of employees, who are paid an annual salary of $55,000 or more and who have no entitlement to overtime.
Napper believes the change is a good development for employers as “it will revert the initial reaction of employers to the pre-WorkChoices position, which is for most non-award employers and employees who don’t have their terms and conditions regulated by a workplace agreement of some kind.”
“The Minister’s decision to reconsider those regulations is both appropriate and welcome, and it will relieve employers of unnecessary bureaucracy and paper work,” Hunt & Hunt’s Thompson said.
However, he warned that employers still needed to be aware that there are two different timekeeping requirements. One relates to total hours worked and the other to start and finish times. “Each of these requirements has different tests which determine whether timekeeping records should be kept,” he said.