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Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Caring for Single Parents) Bill 2013

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2010-2011-2012-2013

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(CARING FOR SINGLE PARENTS) BILL 2013

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by the authority of Senator Siewert)

 

 



 

SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(CARING FOR SINGLE PARENTS) BILL 2013

 

 

Outline

 

The purpose of the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Caring for Single Parents) Bill 2013 is to provide additional financial assistance to single parents on Newstart, to allow single parents on Newstart to earn more before losing their income support payment and to provide an enforceable right to request flexible work arrangements for people with caring responsibilities. 

 

The Bill amends the Social Security Act 1991 to provide for:

·       a $40 a week supplementary payment for single parents receiving Newstart payments; and

·       the income test for single parents receiving Newstart to be the same as the income test for single parents receiving Parenting Payment.

 

The Bill also amends the Fair Work Act 2009 to provide for an enforceable right to request flexible work arrangements for people with caring responsibilities, including single parents.

 





NOTES ON CLAUSES



Clause 1 - Short title

 

This clause provides for the Bill, when enacted, to be cited as the Social Security Legislation and Other Amendment (Caring for Single Parents) Bill 2013 .

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

 

This clause provides that the amendments will commence on the day the Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 - Schedule(s)

 

This clause provides that an Act that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule, and any other item in a Schedule operates according to its terms.

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments to the Social Security Act 1991

 

Part 1 - Newstart Amendments

 

 
   Item 1   is a consequential amendment to Item 2. 
 
    
 
   Item 2   inserts a new Module CA into the   Social Security Act 1991  after point 1068-BA4 providing for a Newstart Single Parent Supplement payment. The Newstart Single Parent Supplement payment is $80 a fortnight paid to a person who is qualified for the Newtart Allowance and who is single and is the principal carer of a child. 
 
    

Item 3 replaces the current Point 1068-G17 with a new point that provides that single parents receiving Newstart are subject to the same income test as single parents receiving the parenting payment. The Item provides that for single parents receiving Newstart their ordinary income free area is $152.00 plus $24.60 for each child. The provisions means that single parents receiving Newstart can earn more before their income support payment starts to reduce.

 

 

 
   Part 2 - Other amendments  
 
     
 
   Items 4 and 5   amend the   Social Security (Administration) Act 1999  and confirm that payments made as a result of this Bill cannot be made until Parliament has made an appropriation for that purpose. 
 
    
 
    
 
   Schedule 2 - Amendments to the   Fair Work Act 2009 
 
      

Item 1 amends the existing paragraph 5(8)(a) to provide that flexible working arrangements orders can be made for national system employees who are covered by the National Employment Standards.

 

Item 2 inserts flexible working arrangements orders into the Dictionary.

 

Items 3, 5, 6, 9 and 11 are consequential on item 8.  

 

Item 4 adds flexible working arrangements orders to the other terms and conditions of employment provided under the Fair Work Act.

 

Item 8 repeals Division 4 of Part 2-2 which contains the existing provisions regarding requests for flexible working arrangements.

 

Item 10 inserts flexible working arrangements as a permitted matter in the making of an enterprise agreement in subsection 172(1).

 

Item 12 inserts a new Part 2-7A regarding flexible working arrangements.

 

Division 1 provides for the introduction of a new Part 2-7A.

 

Section 306A gives a guide to Part 2-7A—Flexible working arrangements.

 

Section 306B defines the terms employee as a national system employee and employer as a national system employer.

 

Subsection 306C(1) provides that State or Territory laws that provide employee entitlements in relation to flexible working arrangements are not excluded to the extent that they are more beneficial to employees than the entitlements under Part 2-7A.

 

Subsection 306C(2) provides that a law of a State or Territory has no effect in relation to an employee to the extent that it provides an employee entitlement in relation to flexible working arrangements that is inconsistent with a term of an enterprise agreement that applies to the employee.

 

Division 2 sets out the process for requesting flexible working arrangements.

 

Section 306D sets out the process for requesting flexible working arrangements for employees with caring responsibilities who meet certain criteria regarding their employment status.

 

An employee who has responsibility for the care of another person, or organisations entitled to represent that person, may request that the employer change the employee’s hours of work, patterns of work and location of work. A request can only be made if an employee has at least 12 months of continuous service with the employer. A long term casual employee who has responsibility for the care of another person can make a request if they have a reasonable expectation of continuing employment on a regular and systematic basis with that same employer.

 

A request must be in writing and set out details of the changes being requested and the reasons for the changes. The employer must respond within 21 days stating whether they grant or refuse the request. The employer may only refuse the request if there are serious countervailing business grounds and must include details of the reasons for the refusal in the written response.

 

Division 3 sets out the arrangements for flexible working arrangements orders.

 

Section 306E gives Fair Work Australia the power to make flexible working arrangements orders it considers appropriate to ensure compliance with section 306D and defines who may apply for a flexible working arrangements order. Fair Work Australia may make a flexible working arrangements order only on application from an employee or employee organisation whose request has been refused, or the Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Disability Discrimination Commissioner or the Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

 

Section 306F allows Fair Work Australia to order changed working arrangements to be implemented in stages as Fair Work Australia thinks appropriate.

 

Section 306G provides that an employer must not contravene a term of a flexible working arrangements order and makes a breach subject to civil remedy provisions.

 

306H sets out the relationship between working arrangements orders, modern awards and enterprise agreements. A term of a modern award has no effect if it is less beneficial to the employee than a term of a flexible working arrangements order. A term of a flexible working arrangements order has no effect in relation to an employee to the extent that it is inconsistent with a term of an enterprise agreement that applies to the employee.

 

Item 13 inserts a new table item after item 9 in subsection 539(2) that sets out the standing, jurisdiction and maximum penalties that apply for a breach of a working arrangements order.

 

Items 14, 20-23 are consequential amendments.

 

Item 15 inserts a new section after paragraph 557(2)(f) that defines a flexible working arrangements orders for the purposes of section 557. This allows two or more contraventions of a flexible working arrangements order to be treated as a single contravention if the contraventions are committed by the same person, and the contraventions arose out of a course of conduct by the person.

 

Item 16 inserts a new paragraph 576(1)(fa) that gives Fair Work Australia functions in relation to flexible working arrangements.

 

Item 17 inserts a new paragraph 653(1)(c) and 653(1)(ca). These paragraphs require the General Manager of Fair Work Australia to conduct research into the operation of Part 2-7A in relation to requests for changed working arrangements.

 

Item 18 inserts a new paragraph 675(2)(ea) that makes it clear a breach of a flexible working arrangements order is not a criminal offence.

 

Item 19 inserts a new paragraph 716(1)(g) that allows a Fair Work Australia inspector to issue a compliance notice in relation to a term of a flexible working arrangements order.

 



 

 
    
 
    

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Caring for Single Parents)

Bill 2013

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

The Bill amends the Social Security Act 1991 to provide for:

·       a $40 a week supplementary payment for single parents receiving Newstart payments; and

·       the income test for single parents receiving Newstart to be the same as the income test for single parents receiving Parenting Payment.

 

The Bill also amends the Fair Work Act 2009 to provide for an enforceable right to request flexible work arrangements for people with caring responsibilities, including single parents.

 

Human rights implications

The Bill engages the following human rights:

 

Right to social security

 

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises the right of everyone to social security.

 

The Bill will promote the right to social security by increasing the amount of financial support for certain recipients of Newstart and providing a more appropriate income test for single parents.

 

Right to work

 

Articles 6(1) and 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) provide for a right to work including that the right to work should be protected, by providing the worker with just and favourable conditions of work.

 

The Bill will promote the right to work by providing additional rights to carers for flexible work arrangements to ensure they can stay in employment

 

Conclusion

 

The Bill is compatible with human rights because it generally advances human rights.