More IR Reforms – August 2024

In the changing world of employment and work rules, things are getting better for workers. From January to July, new laws like the Secure Jobs and Better Pay Act, plus tweaks to the Fair Work Act 2009, have made workplaces safer and fairer (read them here).

One big change, the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Act 2024, received Royal Assent on 26 February 2024. Some changes are already in place with more to come highlighted in this article and more expected for 2025, all aimed at giving workers more rights and protections.

Throughout this update, the ‘Commission’ refers to the Fair Work Commission and the ‘Act’ refers to the Fair Work Act 2009.

The following changes take affect from 26 August 2024:

New Provisions: Right to Disconnect – non small businesses

The “right to disconnect” refers to the new legal entitlement that empowers employees to refuse to read or respond to contact (or attempted contact) by employers or third parties about work outside of the employees’ working hours, provided the refusal is not unreasonable.

As outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), some employees will have the freedom to disregard phone calls, emails, text messages, and other work-related communications outside their designated working hours.

It’s important to note that while the law does not prohibit employers from sending emails and communicating after working hours, it serves as a safeguard for employees who choose not to engage with unreasonable attempts at contact by their employer.

To find out more about what is considered reasonable contact, exemptions, disputes, and what employers should be actioning, read our Quick Guide to the New Right to Disconnect here.

For small businesses (few than 15 employees) will commence on 26 August 2025.

Casual Employment

New laws will impact casual employees differently based on their engagement date:

  • For those hired after the new laws take effect, current provisions on casual conversion will be scrapped. They can switch to permanent roles using a new employee choice process.
  • Existing provisions remain for those hired before the new laws, until six months after the change. Afterward, they can also switch to permanent roles via the new process.

Employers can reject an employee’s request for conversion based on fair operational reasons. Employers must provide reasons for rejecting a request, though they don’t need to be detailed.

Casual employees must receive a before starting a Casual Employment Information Statement before starting, six months in, 12 months in, and annually thereafter.

For more detailed information about the changes, read our Employer Update here.

Changes to the definition of employment

Under the new definition, individuals meeting certain earnings criteria can choose to opt out of being classified as employees. The specific earnings threshold, called the ‘contractor high income threshold,’ will be determined at a later date.

Both individuals and employers can initiate the opt-out process by providing written notice and earnings statements. Individuals can revoke their opt-out once, but only for each specific relationship.

Independent Contractors ‘unfair contracts’ disputes

The Commission gains authority to address disputes over unfair terms in services contracts for independent contractors, given their earnings are below the contractor high income threshold, which is yet to be determined. The Independent Contractors Act will be amended, restricting independent contractors earning above the threshold to seek review of harsh or unfair services contracts.

Minimum Standards for ‘employee-like’ Workers

A new framework is introduced to safeguard the interests of specific workers in the gig economy, termed as ’employee-like workers.’ These independent contractors, operating through digital labor platforms, typically have limited bargaining power and influence over their work conditions. The Commission gains authority to establish fair minimum standards and address disputes regarding unfair deactivations from these platforms. Registered organizations representing such workers can negotiate collective agreements with platform operators.

Additionally, independent contractors (including ’employee-like’ workers) earning below the contractor high income threshold can seek Commission intervention for unfair contract term disputes.

Furthermore, the Commission is empowered to establish standards for contractual chains in the road transport sector, encompassing ’employee-like’ workers.

Lastly, a Digital Labor Platform Consultative Committee will be established to address related concerns.

Road Transport Industry

The Bill grants the Commission authority to establish minimum standards for road transport contractors and ’employee-like’ digital platform workers. It revises the regulatory framework proposed in the December 2023 version of the Bill by introducing a comprehensive system for the Commission to issue ‘contractual chain orders’ affecting businesses across the road transport supply chain.

Additionally, the Bill mandates Commission approval for collective agreements covering ’employee-like’ gig economy workers or road transport workers, contingent upon ensuring they align with the public interest.


These changes are significant for employers and there are things employers should be actioning to ensure compliance. All employers should ensure they are up to speed with the changes and understand how their business is impacted.

These changes are also only one piece of the many changes which have already occurred, and are still yet to come – you can read Edwards HR’s other updates here.

If you would like advice about how these changes will affect your business or would like to understand how we can support your compliance and risk mitigation efforts, Edwards HR are more than happy to help – please contact our team on 07 3568 0866.

For more information about the changes, you can view updates on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Stay up to date with all the upcoming changes via our Linkedin or sign up to our ‘Employer Update’ newsletter.

For more information about the changes, you can view updates on the Fair Work Ombudsman website here.

For more guidance about this update, or to find out how Edwards HR can support your business, contact our team today on 07 3568 0866.

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