Power moves: NSW’s bold new laws employers can’t ignore

In a move aimed at bolstering workplace safety and improving employment conditions, the NSW Parliament has recently passed two pieces of legislation.
Power moves: NSW’s bold new laws employers can’t ignore

In a significant move aimed at bolstering workplace safety and improving employment conditions, the New South Wales Parliament has recently passed two pivotal pieces of legislation. These changes introduce an industrial manslaughter offence with severe penalties and the introduction of portable long service leave (LSL) applicable to a wide range of community service workers.

In this article, we unpack these legislative changes, explain the ins and outs of how portable long-service leave and the industrial manslaughter offence will impact businesses, and share why employers cannot afford to ignore these important new laws.

So, what do businesses need to know?

1. Industrial manslaughter offence

The Work Health and Safety Amendment (Industrial Manslaughter) Bill 2024 establishes a robust framework to address workplace fatalities caused by gross negligence. Under this new law:

  • Penalties: individuals can face up to 25 years in jail, aligning with existing maximum manslaughter penalties in the NSW Crimes Act, while companies may be fined up to $20 million, the largest penalty amount to date in Australia for such an offence.
  • Prosecution: a dedicated unit within the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will oversee cases, aiming to hold both businesses and individuals accountable for fatal workplace incidents resulting from gross negligence.
  • Impact on businesses: while the legislation doesn’t introduce new health and safety obligations or duties for employers, it does provide for a new offence which serves as a stern deterrent against unsafe workplace practices. Businesses must ensure stringent safety measures to mitigate risks and avoid legal repercussions.

2. Portable Long Service Leave extension

In a move to support over 250,000 community service workers, the NSW Parliament has passed legislation to extend portable long service leave provisions to apply to workers in the community services sector.

The portable long service leave scheme recognises a worker’s continuous employment in a sector as opposed to an individual employer. This means that when an employee changes employer but remains employed in the sector, they don’t forfeit their long service leave entitlement. NSW already has two portable LSL schemes operating for the building and contract cleaning industries. Now, a third portable LSL scheme will also be set up for workers working in the community services sector. The purpose of the scheme is to improve access to leave and help attract and retain skilled workers.

The scheme will apply to the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and will include full-time, part-time, and casual workers. Workers will be eligible if they deliver a community service, or they work in an organisation that predominately delivers a community service including but not limited to disability support services, homelessness services, community housing, domestic violence support and social work.

Employers within the community service industry will contribute via a levy to the Long Service Leave Corporation, simplifying administration under the Long Service Leave Act 1955. This replaces the need for employers to individually budget for LSL. The legislation also introduces a one-year service credit incentive for early registrants, aimed at supporting retention in demanding community service roles.

All workers and employers are required to be registered with the NSW Long Service Leave Corporation within one month of the scheme’s commencement. It’s anticipated that the scheme will commence sometime in mid-2025.

The passage of these bills signifies NSW’s commitment to enhancing workplace safety and supporting community service workers. Businesses are urged to review their safety practices and employment policies to align with these new regulations.

Shore up your compliance and boost your confidence with Citation Safety

Navigating legislative changes demands expert guidance to ensure compliance and effectively mitigate risks. Citation Safety specialises in providing tailored solutions to businesses, offering comprehensive advice tailored to your needs. We assist in implementing robust safety protocols that meet legal standards. With proactive support, we minimise risks and ensure your workplace operates safely and compliantly.

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For expert guidance on legal compliance and employee benefits management under the new legislation, enquire about Citation Safety.

About our author

Tasha Najmudeen is a Workplace Relations Consultant at Citation Group. She has an interest in all things legislation and ER/IR related and regularly provides advice on workplace matters to find solutions for clients.

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