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Introduction of “Corrupting Benefits” laws

March 28, 2017

by Meaghan Spencer and Troy Wild, NRA Legal

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash introduced new legislation this week that outlaws payments of “corrupting benefits” to unions and imposes penalties on those who provide or receive such payments.

The Prime Minister said that the Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Bill 2017 would end “the dodgy arrangements that ensure millions of dollars of financial benefits flow into union coffers from insurance training and superannuation schemes, with employees none the wiser”.

The new legislation would make it a criminal offence for those who make, receive, solicit or offer payments intended to corrupt union officials will be liable for up to 10 years in prison and penalties of up to $900,000 for individuals and up to $4.5m for companies. Penalties for payments or benefits other than specified legitimate payments (such as genuine membership fees) will be two years in prison and a maximum of $90,000 for individuals or $450,000 for companies.

The Bill will also ensure that during enterprise agreement negotiations, full disclosure of any legitimate financial benefits obtained by an employer or union must be made to employees. 

The Prime Minister said

“we have seen through the Heydon royal commission and subsequently, the way unions have let their members down- how big unions have traded their rights away in return for payments.

The law applies to all Australians, and it applies to unions.”

The Employment Minister stated

“Employees should be aware and should have full knowledge of any payments that are made between their employer and a union”

For further information on the introduction of this legislation, please contact our legal team on 1800 RETAIL.

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