Following on from Minister Michaelia Cash’s announcement in early September, The Fair Work Laws Amendment (Proper Use of Worker Benefits) Bill 2017 (Bill) was finally introduced into parliament last sitting week.
While the bill passed the lower house, it has been referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 10 November 2017.
The Government has said that this Bill was designed to protect worker entitlements that are held for their benefit, whether that be for redundancy pay, sick leave or other employment benefits.
There are various types of funds operating in Australia covering a variety of different industries that hold funds, designed to benefit workers in the event of a change in their circumstances.
The proposed legislation is in response to findings arising from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption (Royal Commission).
In essence, the Royal Commission recommended wide-ranging reforms for the oversight of funds created for the collection, holding and subsequent distribution of worker benefits.
It has been reported that investment in these funds, with contributions often compulsorily required under terms of enterprise agreements, is in the region of $2 billion.
While these funds have been likened to managed investment schemes that are usually subject to governance arrangements under the Corporations Act 2001, worker entitlement funds are currently not subject to this level of oversight.
You can read/get a copy of the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum (EM) here.