Big HR & Employment Law Issues of 2022/23

Last week Harrisons hosted our annual end of year event for clients. During this event, we heard from two guest speakers: Claire Harrison (MD, Harrisons) and Christy Miller (Partner, Clayton Utz) on a number of hot topics in the workplace.

Fair Work Act Amendments

The Australian Government has passed the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022. This legislation amends the Fair Work Act to change a number of existing rules and introduces a range of new workplace laws.

The following changes started from 7 December 2022:

  • Job security
    • New workplace rights on disclosing pay and workplace conditions
    • Prohibiting pay secrecy
  • Gender equality measures
    • New protected attributes in the Fair Work Act:
      • Breastfeeding
      • Gender identity
      • Intersex status
    • New objects of the Fair Work Act, modern awards and minimum wages
    • Equal remuneration principles and orders
  • Enterprise agreements and enterprise bargaining
    • Termination of enterprise agreements after their nominal expiry date
    • Sunsetting of ‘zombie’ agreements
    • Initiating bargaining
    • Dealing with errors in enterprise agreements.

The following changes will come into effect at varying points throughout 2023:

  • Changes to flexible work agreement obligations for employers
  • Changes to prohibiting workplace sexual harassment for employers
  • Changes to unpaid parental leave for employers.

Specifically, Harrisons can support by:

  • Reviewing and/or creating employment contract templates and job ads to ensure compliance with pay secrecy updates and mandates.
  • Reviewing and/or creating Anti-Discrimination policies to ensure that the new protected attributes are encompassed and compliant with legislation updates.
  • Reviewing or creating sexual harassment policies to ensure that the encompass the updated changes in relation to prohibiting workplace sexual harassment.
  • Delivering training to your leaders and employees on sexual harassment to ensure you are able to defend any employer/vicarious liability claims around this area.
  • Reviewing or creating flexible work arrangement policies and procedures to ensure that new employer obligations are met.
  • Providing advice on new fixed term and maximum term contract restrictions.
  • Reviewing and/or creating Parental Leave policy to ensure that obligations under the updated legislation are complied with.
  • Delivering training to your leadership and/or HR team on any or all of the above changes.

HR End of Year Wrap Up

Employee Burnout

The World Health Organization offers this burnout definition: “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Research shows that reported employee burnout is increasing year on year and is the primary culprit for people leaving jobs and industries, and a significant cost to employers, society and the economy.

Burnout Prevention should be managed like any other risk:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Assess the risks
  3. Control the risks
  4. Review control measures

Claire spoke about steps that can be taken to address the three most common contributors to a burnout:

  1. Culture:
    • Alignment of Values – communication, recruitment and rewards
    • Meaningful (leader) communication
    • Leader role modelling
    • Build relationships/sense of belonging
  2. Structure
    • Review organisational structure to ensure adequate resourcing
    • Develop Position Descriptions to ensure clear roles, responsibilities & expectations
    • Check that deadlines/workload are realistic
  3. Systems
    • Policies, procedures and training to ensure equality and fairness
    • Leader training and development to understand and prevent burnout
    • Create independence in roles via system of expectations/development/feedback
    • Provide support to leaders in their roles
    • Review reward and recognition programs

Harrisons can support managing burnout by:

  • Providing a tip sheet on burnout conversations (just ask us!)
  • Completing a burnout assessment of your organisation
  • Delivering a workshop for your leadership team on signs and prevention of burnout as well as assisting with the development of your own action plan

Finding Talent During a Shortage

Turnover hurts. Claire spoke about the direct and indirect costs of turnover as well as steps that can be taken to assist in attracting and retaining great talent:

  • Develop you employee value proposition (EVP) around your “Why” (cue: Simon Sinek’s “The Golden Circle”). Your company’s “Why” not only applies to your customers, but also your people.
  • Use your EVP to promote and embed your employer brand. With a workforce that are using decision making processes based almost exclusively on information found online – what does your digital marketing and social media say about you as an employer – how do you stand out?
  • Short-game alternative sourcing strategies (just ask us!)

Harrisons is available to help with developing your talent acquisitions strategy – short term and long term.

Remote and Flexible Work Arrangements

Post-COVID, remote and flexible work is quickly becoming seen as a need-to-have, as opposed to a nice-to-have. Claire talked through the three remote working policy positions (discretionary model, entitlement model and requirement model) and what Harrisons recommends to its clients in order to optimise remote working results.

Claire also talked through working from home disputes and what to do when an employee challenges a refusal to a request to work from home.

Harrisons can support by reviewing or creating a flexible work and/or remote work policy for your business.

With 2023 around the corner, Harrisons looks forward to helping you make meaningful contributions and connections at work for your team to achieve organisational success.


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