Legal

The new financial year legal changes you need to know about

Patrick Stafford /

feature-new-fin-year-changes-200Another year, another set of tweaks to the legal system. Every time July 1 comes around, it seems there’s an avalanche of legal changes to wade through with regard to workplace, financial or personal law. It’s almost too much.

Entrepreneurs don’t always have time to look at this in detail. So SmartCompany has done the hard yards and compiled a list of the legal changes you need to know about – with a few details on each to get you started.

Unfair Dismissal

Legal expert Peter Vitale warns SmartCompany readers there are some key changes coming into effect regarding unfair dismissal, and you should know about them.

“The changes concern the unfair dismissal threshold…any business needs to be up to speed with any changes in this area.”

The high income threshold increases from July 1 from the current level of $118,100 to $123,000. While that’s significant enough, the compensation limit for unfair dismissal will also increase from $59,505 to $61,650.

Why is this so important? Employees who earn more than the high income threshold, and who aren’t covered by an award, can’t make an unfair dismissal claim.

Also, Fair Work warns that employees who have been covered by a modern award and have agreed to a written guarantee of earnings higher than that threshold can make a claim.

Businesses should also be aware the maximum amount of compensation payable is capped at either half the threshold, or six months’ worth of the dismissed employee’s wages – whichever of the two is less.

IP Australia

Let’s start off with the simple stuff. If you’re dealing with IP Australia, then you should know fees will be increasing next month.

The patent examination fee will rise from $450 to $490, while the innovation patent examination request fee will rise from $400 to $500. And even more fees will increase from October 2012 as well.

For the full list of fees and increases, a chart’s available on the IP Australia website.

FOFA

The Future of Financial Advice reforms have been in the spotlight for several months now, and even though the Federal Government deferred the laws so compliance isn’t mandatory until July 2013, the laws still come into effect next month.

There’s a couple of things to be aware of, including requirements that if an advisor does elect to comply with the FOFA regulation after next month, they’re only permitted to receive conflicted remuneration, such as trail commissions, under arrangements entered into before the decision to comply to the legislation.

The changes are numerous and complicated, with a full list available here.

Some changes include a requirement for advisers to act in the best interest of their retail clients when providing advice, requesting clients opt-in or renewing advice agreements every two years and advisers will be banned on collecting “conflicted” remuneration, including commissions.

The reforms will also introduce a ban on soft-dollar benefits given to advisers who provide advice to retail clients.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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