Following a number of amendments to ensure passage through the Senate, the Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Act 2017 has been passed into legislation. The new legislation, made in response to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, amends the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act) to create new offences in relation to corrupting benefits and to add new disclosure rules which apply during enterprise bargaining. The amended Act took effect from 11 September 2017.
In summary, the changes:
• Make it an offence to give, receive or solicit a corrupting benefit
• Make it an offence for employers to give, and unions to receive or solicit illegitimate cash or in kind payments
• Require employers and registered organisations that are bargaining representatives for a proposed enterprise agreement to disclose certain financial benefits that they, or a person or body reasonably connected with them, may derive from the proposed agreement. Employees must have access to the disclosure document before they vote on the proposed agreement.
The amended Act also imposes substantial penalties in relation to the giving, receiving or soliciting of corrupting benefits to a maximum of $4.5 million for a body corporate and $900,000 for an individual and/or up to 10 years imprisonment.
The Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) will be responsible for regulating the provisions of the new Act, in collaboration with other government agencies such as the Fair Work Ombudsman and the police.
Members seeking further information on corrupting benefits are encouraged to look at the ROC website and/or contact the IR Department on (03) 9411 4560.