New 'corrupting benefits' laws

The Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) has undergone significant changes via the Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Act 2017 (Amendment Act).

The Amendment Act came into operation on 11 September 2017. The Amendment Act makes it an offence to give, receive or solicit a corrupting benefit.

The new s.536D(1) of the FW Act makes it an offence to dishonestly provide  a benefit with the intention of influencing an officer or employee of a registered organisation (such as a Union).

The new s.536D(2) of the FW Act makes it an offence to dishonestly request or  receive a benefit with the intention that the benefit will influence an officer or employee of the registered organisation.

The maximum penalties for giving, receiving or soliciting a corrupting benefit are:

  • 10 years imprisonment and a fine of more than $1 million for individuals 
  • a fine of more than $5 million for bodies corporate. 

The new s.536F of the FW Act makes it an offence for an employer to provide illegitimate cash or in kind payment to a Union if the employer employs a person whose industrial interests the Union is entitled to represent. Certain payments, such as deducting Union membership fees from an employee’s wage at his request and paying it to the Union, are exempt. 

The new s.536G of the FW Act makes it an offence for a Union to request or receive illegitimate cash or in kind payment from an employer if the employer employs a person whose industrial interests the Union is entitled to represent.

The maximum penalties for giving, receiving or soliciting a cash or in kind payment are:

  • 2 years imprisonment and a fine of $105,000 for individuals 
  • a fine of more than $525,000 for bodies corporate. 

Enterprise Bargaining Representatives are required to disclose certain financial benefits they may derive from an Enterprise Agreement. Employers must disclose all financial benefits, except benefits that are received in the ordinary course of the employer’s business (s.179 & 179A of the FW Act).

These changes may have significant consequences for employers and Electrical Contractors are urged to contact NECA Legal if they have any questions.  

Disclaimer: The above information summary is not legal advice. Employers should contact NECA Legal (WA) Pty Ltd to discuss legislative obligations on (08) 6241 6129 or email necalegalwa@ecawa.org.au.