26 September 2023

New laws to protect Parliamentary staff

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Legislation providing additional protections to staff of Parliamentarians has successfully passed through the Parliament.

The Parliamentary Workplace Reform (Set the Standard Measures No. 1) Bill 2022 makes changes to four pieces of legislation in order to implement the recommendations of Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins.

Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Simon Birmingham said the Bill provided additional protections to employees of Parliamentarians and provided a clear intent that not only the Government, but the Parliament, was committed to the recommendations of the Jenkins Report.

Senator Birmingham said the legislative changes included an amendment to the Members of Parliament Staff Act 1984 to strengthen and clarify the employment rights of staff members.

“They clarify the Age Discrimination Act 2004 and the Disability Discrimination Act

1992 to ensure they apply to people employed under the Members of Parliament Staff Act 1984,” he said.

“They remove any doubt that the Fair Work Act 2009 applies to Parliamentary staff by making it explicit that Parliamentarians are required to provide written reasons and additional information as to why an employee is being terminated.

“Finally, they amend the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to clarify that Parliamentarians are officers of the Commonwealth for the purposes of this Act.”

The Senator said the Parliament had also established a Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Standards to inquire into and report on matters relating to the development of codes of conduct for Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces.

“The Committee will hear the views of stakeholders, including current and former staff of Commonwealth Parliamentarians, in order to develop codes of conduct to ensure safe and respectful workplaces,” Senator Birmingham said.

The Committee is due to report by 1 November.

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