Legislation Updates – May

Government, Bill, Employment Law / 23 May 2024
Legislation Updates – May

Privacy Amendment Bill
The Privacy Amendment Bill which we have previously talked about here has progressed to its first reading, with submissions closing on 14 June 2024.

Draft Biometrics Code of Practice.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner released the draft Biometrics Code of Practice in April, noting this is a special type of personal information as it is fundamental to a person’s sense of identity. When processed using facial recognition and other automated processing technologies, biometrics can identify people and work out other kinds of information about them. Because of this, additional rules have been drafted for organisations using these automated processing technologies.
Under the draft code, agencies collecting and using biometric information will have to:

  • Decide whether their reasons for using biometric technologies outweigh the privacy intrusion or risks of doing so (rule 1);
  • Have “clear signs or notices and make additional information publicly available” (rule 3); and
  • Under what is referred to as the “fair processing limits” requirement in rule 4, organisations must not use biometric classification to infer information about people’s health, personality or mood, physical state, gender and ethnicity and other demographics. There are exceptions to this such as if the information would be helpful for health and safety.

Initial consultation has now closed, and a further period of formal consultation will occur before the Code is finalised.

Proposed Members Bills
Crimes (Corporate Homicide) Amendment Bill
A new Members Bill from Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety Spokesperson seeks to introduce a new criminal offence if despite a relevant legal duty of care a person or entity recklessly engages in conduct that exposes any individual to whom that duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury, and a person dies as a result.

Security of Workers’ Wages Amendment Bill
A new Members Bill from a Labour MP proposes to amend the Companies Act 1993 and the Insolvency Act 2006 to ensure that, in cases of liquidation and insolvency, workers are paid for all amounts outstanding to them. The Bill also removes the cap for claims by employees to ensure that all outstanding amounts owed to the employee are paid and ensures that workers’ claims for outstanding money owed to them are prioritised.

Employment Relations (Removing Automatic Deduction of Union Fees) Amendment Bill
A new Members Bill from an ACT MP seeks to repeal sections 55 and 65A of the Employment Relations Act 2000, so that employers are not required to deduct union fees from employees’ salary or wages.

Employment Relations (Termination of Employment by Agreement) Amendment Bill
This Bill proposes protected negotiations to occur between an employer and an employee to bring an end to the employment relationship if, for example, the demands of the business mean that it is imperative to dismiss the employee.

It also proposes employers could seek to terminate the employment agreement by mutual consent by requesting the employee to sign a settlement agreement in which the employee agrees, in return for specified compensation, to have their employment agreement terminated and not to bring a personal grievance claim against the employer under any cause of action they may have at the time the employment relationship comes to an end.

Finally, that any pre-termination negotiations not be admissible in any future proceedings relating to the employment relationship unless certain exceptions apply.

Message for Employers
Please feel free to reach out to our team if you have any questions or would like to understand the application of any of these changes to your workplace.

Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law, health and safety and immigration topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.

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