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New Year, New Laws in 2020


With each new year there is usually a long list of new laws that are introduced, changed or updated and with our busy lives these can sometimes be missed. It does pay to check each year as to what laws or legislative changes are to take place, it can save you from finding out the hard way. Here we have compiled a list of new laws for 2020 in Australia that could save you the hassle of a fine and help to ensure you don’t get caught out.

New driving laws

The major changes to traffic laws are mainly coming into line with technology and introducing harsher penalties to those breaking the laws.

Cross safely: walking around the Sydney light rail The introduction of the light rail in Sydney in late December 2019 brought with it new road rules for 2020. With newer lines set to open in early March 2020 there are some rules you should be aware of. New South Wales road rules state: pedestrians cannot cross the tracks unless at a designated crossing or at their own discretion 20 or more metres away from a crossing. For breaching the rule and you will face a $76 fine.

Put down your phone: increased mobile phone penalties roll out__ Mobile phone penalties will more than double if you are caught using your mobile phone whilst driving. The fine for Queensland drivers will jump from $400 to $1,000. This record high fine will come into effect 1 February 2020 and if you are caught more than twice in one year, you could stand to lose your licence. Learners and P-Platers could lose their licence from just one offence.

The grace period is over: mobile phone detection cameras are here In New South Wales, come 1 February 2020 the grace period of warnings on mobile phone use while driving will end and if you are caught using your phone with the new detection cameras you will be fined, with fines starting at $344.

Smokers, take note ... New South Wales smokers are no longer allowed to throw their cigarettes from their vehicles, this act will land you a $660 fine and 5 demerit points. But during a total fire ban period penalties will be doubled, fines amounting to $11,000 and 10 demerit points.

Slow down: new speed camera spots in WA From January 1, the Western Australian Government will scrap regular speed camera location updates from the WA Police Force. Instead there will now be a list of around 1800 locations around the state which may or may not have a camera in place.

New employment law

Better work test for Paid Parental Leave Previously new parents could take different leave when they extended their families. Eligible mothers are able to take 18 weeks paid leave, funded under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010. Since 2013 fathers or partners have been entitled to “Dad and Partner Pay”. This year the work test has been amended as at 1 January 2020 to allow more women to qualify. The Government will now extend the break between working days from eight to 12 weeks and allow women to move their work test period if they have had to stop work early due to a workplace hazard.

This will apply to parents of children born or adopted on or after 1 January 2020.

Thinking of speaking out? New protection for whistleblowers As at 1 January 2020 public companies, large proprietary companies and corporate trustees of APRA-regulated superannuation entities are legally required to have an updated whistleblower policy. The policy must include information about the legal protections available to whistleblowers and how a company will investigate claims and protect whistleblowers from harm.

Employers, take note: updates to award wages From March 2020, a number of modern awards will be changed. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure employees don’t earn below minimum wage when they work any hours above the 38-hour working week.

New superannuation laws

Changes to your superannuation that you NEED to know As of 1 January 2020, employers are required to pay super on their employee’s gross pay, this includes any salary they have sacrificed. On that note, salary sacrifice cannot count towards compulsory super contributions.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so be sure your state for any local or state laws that may have changed with the new year.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: January 20, 2020.

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