What HR needs to know about the 2024 Federal Budget


The 2024-25 Federal Budget has heralded some significant financial promises, from a boost in skills development in future-critical sectors to financial relief packages. Here are the key items HR should be across.

In a bid to relieve the financial pressures that Australian households and businesses have been experiencing of late, Treasurer Jim Chalmers forefronted cost-of-living relief in last night’s budget, which included a $3.5 billion energy relief bill, which would deliver $300 worth of energy rebates for all Australian households, and the return of stage 3 tax cuts from 1 July (see tax cuts by pay bracket here).

However, these cost-reduction measures have faced criticism from influential independent senator Jacqui Lambie, who criticised the government for not means testing the energy rebates, and from Greens Leader Adam Brandt, who says the measures don’t go far enough to support “people who are doing it tough”.

“This budget is framed in fraught and fragile global conditions,” said Chalmers in his Budget speech. “[Global] uncertainty, combined with cost-of-living pressures and higher interest rates will slow [down] our economy, with growth forecast to be just 1.75 per cent this financial year, and 2 per cent next [year]. Slower growth means a softer labour market, with unemployment expected to rise slightly to four and a half per cent next year.”

Despite this, he indicated that the Australian economy is well placed to tackle these challenges, and pledged that the “responsible relief” introduced by this year’s budget will help build a stronger and more resilient economy.

Beyond the cost-reduction measures, relevant Budget insights for businesses include a significant investment to deliver a skilled workforce for the future, further measures to end violence against women, a proposed wage boost for Australia’s aged care and childcare sector, and support for small businesses struggling to navigate Australia’s new industrial relations landscape.

Below, HRM takes a deeper dive into what else HR needs to know.

Skills, jobs and wages

Skills
Nearly $600 million has been set aside to bolster skills and training in Australia, with a focus on the construction, clean energy and manufacturing sectors.

This will include a $50 million injection into training people to work in clean energy across wind, solar, pumped hydro, grid battery storage, electricity networks and hydrogen, as well as relevant electrical and construction trades. It will add another $30 million to increase teacher, assessor and trainer roles in the clean energy sector.

There was also a strong focus on apprenticeships, with $1500 in reimbursements for small-to-medium sized businesses who engage clean energy, construction and manufacturing  apprentices through a group training organisation. The government will also fund 20,000 new fee-free TAFE, VET and ‘pre-apprentice’ courses for the housing and construction workforce, from January 2025.

Jobs

Vulnerable and marginalised Australians will benefit from the creation of two new paid work placement programs, designed to support job seekers who’ve previously faced barriers to enter the workforce by connecting them with new opportunities in businesses and social enterprises. 

Remote Australian communities are also set to receive a cash injection. Over the next five years, $2.4 billion will be used to create new opportunities for First Nations people in these regions, namely via jobs creation. The new ‘Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program‘ is set to create up to 3000 jobs in remote Australian regions in the second half of the year. Created in consultation with First Nation Australians, the program will focus on young people to help improve their employment opportunities once they’ve finished school.

The government is also looking to support women to enter traditionally male-dominated industries via the Building Women’s Careers program, which is backed by a $55.6 million government investment. This will focus on the construction, clean energy, advanced manufacturing and digital technology sectors.

Wages

Following the last budget’s historic interim 15 per cent wage increase for the Aged Care sector, the government has announced its intention to fund a further increase to award wages for this cohort, along with childcare workers. The exact amount is yet to be determined/announced.

The government also plans to attract more nurses and aged care workers to this critical sector via a $87.2 million workforce initiative.

Chief Executive Women (CEW) CEO, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, says these measures will “go some way to improving economic security for women”.

“We know that working women are significantly overrepresented in the care sector, and we also know there are skills shortages in many areas like aged care and early childhood education.”

However, she says CEW was disappointed that the budget did not comprehensively address women living in poverty.

“JobSeeker payments sit below the poverty line at around just 43 per cent of minimum wage, trapping the most vulnerable Australians in poverty instead of enabling them into work.”

Superannuation payments paid on parental leave

To continue closing Australia’s gender pay gap, which currently sits at 12 per cent (ranking the country 26th in the world for gender equality), $1.1 billion will go towards paying superannuation on top of government-funded parental leave for parents of babies born or adopted after 1 July 2025.

This was a key recommendation from the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, headed up by soon-to-be Governor-General Sam Mostyn AO, and is expected to help 180,000 families each year.

This will be further enhanced by upcoming increases to employers’ compulsory superannuation payments, which will increase from 11 to 11.5 per cent in June and, by July 2025, will sit at 12 per cent. 

These changes build off previous enhancements to Australia’s paid parental leave scheme, which will add an extra two weeks’ paid leave from July this year, eventually taking the scheme from 20 to 26 weeks in total by July 2026.

Funding towards family and domestic violence prevention

Earlier this month, we saw nation-wide protests demanding more government action towards women’s safety, following the murder of 27 women in Australia this year.

Rather than establishing a royal commission into domestic violence, as many Australians called for, the government has announced a $925-million package to end violence against women and children, with the aim of contributing to women’s safety and economic security, and facilitating independence for victim-survivors of family and domestic violence.

Chalmers notes that more needs to be done to curb the worrying rates of violence and abuse towards women, a sentiment that many agree with.

“Women’s safety and ability to escape gendered violence is intertwined with their economic security, and we also know that more needs to be done to fund the services supporting women escaping violence,” says Lloyd-Hurwitz.

HECS debts wiped

More than three million Australian students are set to benefit from the government wiping $3 billion worth of student HECS debts. Chalmers announced that the government will cap indexation of student loans to either match the consumer price index or the wage price index, whichever is lower. This will be backdated to mid-2023 and is set to deliver $1200 to the average student.

Under a separate initiative, teaching, nursing, midwifery and social work students undertaking practical work placements as part of their studies will now be paid $319.50 per week, following a $1.6 billion commitment from the government.

Mental health

Recognising the prevalence of mental health concerns among Australians, the Budget has pledged $888.1 million to help people get the mental health care they need.

This investment will span eight years, and includes the introduction of a free, low-intensity digital service for people with mild mental health concerns. Through this service, every Australian will be able to access timely mental health support without a GP referral. Approximately 150,000 people are expected to make use of this service each year.

Significantly, $10.8 million has also been set aside to support the mental and financial wellbeing of small business owners, recognising the significant challenges faced by this cohort in recent years. This provision will give small business owners access to tailored, free and confidential support. 

Small business support with industrial relations reforms

As well as supporting SME owners’ mental health, the government has pledged to offer further support to businesses to understand and maintain compliance with the swathe of industrial relations (IR) reform that have recently been announced.

The government announced over $20 million to support small business owners to navigate the new IR landscape. The Fair Work Ombudsman is set to receive the funds over the next four years, with a large portion funding the Employment Advisory Service, which provides assistance to both employees and employers regarding workplace rights and obligations in the form of educational resources, dispute resolutions and information about maintaining compliance with workplace laws.

The funds will also be used to help small businesses navigate the recently passed Right to Disconnect legislation, which is set to come into effect in August 2025 for small businesses (all other businesses will need to comply from August this year).

Small businesses, who are perhaps feeling the brunt of Australia’s cost-of-living crisis, will also receive tax relief with the extension of the instant asset write-off scheme.

This means that organisations with less than $10 million annual turnover can claim an immediate tax deduction for any eligible business assets up to $20,000 – be that a new computer, operational machinery or office equipment. This measure is yet to be passed in law.

Future Made in Australia and our net zero goals

In a bid to position Australia as an “indispensable” part of the global net zero economy, Chalmers announced the 10-year $22.7 billion Future Made in Australia package to help facilitate the private sector investment required for Australia to move towards a net zero future. 

This includes $17.3 million to mobilise private sector investment in sustainable activities, and $399 million to establish the Net Zero Economy Authority and support the economy-wide net zero transformation.

The Net Zero Economy Authority will promote orderly and positive net zero economic transformation. Its functions will include catalysing investments in new industries and jobs, supporting workers impacted by the net zero transition, coordinating policy design and building community engagement.

The package also includes $8 billion over the decade to accelerate investment in renewable hydrogen.

“Australia’s biggest opportunity for growth and prosperity is the global shift to clean energy,” said Chalmers.  “By acting now, our resources, our researchers and our regions can help power the world.”

To learn more about how the budget might affect you, read the full budget papers here.

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What HR needs to know about the 2024 Federal Budget


The 2024-25 Federal Budget has heralded some significant financial promises, from a boost in skills development in future-critical sectors to financial relief packages. Here are the key items HR should be across.

In a bid to relieve the financial pressures that Australian households and businesses have been experiencing of late, Treasurer Jim Chalmers forefronted cost-of-living relief in last night’s budget, which included a $3.5 billion energy relief bill, which would deliver $300 worth of energy rebates for all Australian households, and the return of stage 3 tax cuts from 1 July (see tax cuts by pay bracket here).

However, these cost-reduction measures have faced criticism from influential independent senator Jacqui Lambie, who criticised the government for not means testing the energy rebates, and from Greens Leader Adam Brandt, who says the measures don’t go far enough to support “people who are doing it tough”.

“This budget is framed in fraught and fragile global conditions,” said Chalmers in his Budget speech. “[Global] uncertainty, combined with cost-of-living pressures and higher interest rates will slow [down] our economy, with growth forecast to be just 1.75 per cent this financial year, and 2 per cent next [year]. Slower growth means a softer labour market, with unemployment expected to rise slightly to four and a half per cent next year.”

Despite this, he indicated that the Australian economy is well placed to tackle these challenges, and pledged that the “responsible relief” introduced by this year’s budget will help build a stronger and more resilient economy.

Beyond the cost-reduction measures, relevant Budget insights for businesses include a significant investment to deliver a skilled workforce for the future, further measures to end violence against women, a proposed wage boost for Australia’s aged care and childcare sector, and support for small businesses struggling to navigate Australia’s new industrial relations landscape.

Below, HRM takes a deeper dive into what else HR needs to know.

Skills, jobs and wages

Skills
Nearly $600 million has been set aside to bolster skills and training in Australia, with a focus on the construction, clean energy and manufacturing sectors.

This will include a $50 million injection into training people to work in clean energy across wind, solar, pumped hydro, grid battery storage, electricity networks and hydrogen, as well as relevant electrical and construction trades. It will add another $30 million to increase teacher, assessor and trainer roles in the clean energy sector.

There was also a strong focus on apprenticeships, with $1500 in reimbursements for small-to-medium sized businesses who engage clean energy, construction and manufacturing  apprentices through a group training organisation. The government will also fund 20,000 new fee-free TAFE, VET and ‘pre-apprentice’ courses for the housing and construction workforce, from January 2025.

Jobs

Vulnerable and marginalised Australians will benefit from the creation of two new paid work placement programs, designed to support job seekers who’ve previously faced barriers to enter the workforce by connecting them with new opportunities in businesses and social enterprises. 

Remote Australian communities are also set to receive a cash injection. Over the next five years, $2.4 billion will be used to create new opportunities for First Nations people in these regions, namely via jobs creation. The new ‘Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program‘ is set to create up to 3000 jobs in remote Australian regions in the second half of the year. Created in consultation with First Nation Australians, the program will focus on young people to help improve their employment opportunities once they’ve finished school.

The government is also looking to support women to enter traditionally male-dominated industries via the Building Women’s Careers program, which is backed by a $55.6 million government investment. This will focus on the construction, clean energy, advanced manufacturing and digital technology sectors.

Wages

Following the last budget’s historic interim 15 per cent wage increase for the Aged Care sector, the government has announced its intention to fund a further increase to award wages for this cohort, along with childcare workers. The exact amount is yet to be determined/announced.

The government also plans to attract more nurses and aged care workers to this critical sector via a $87.2 million workforce initiative.

Chief Executive Women (CEW) CEO, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, says these measures will “go some way to improving economic security for women”.

“We know that working women are significantly overrepresented in the care sector, and we also know there are skills shortages in many areas like aged care and early childhood education.”

However, she says CEW was disappointed that the budget did not comprehensively address women living in poverty.

“JobSeeker payments sit below the poverty line at around just 43 per cent of minimum wage, trapping the most vulnerable Australians in poverty instead of enabling them into work.”

Superannuation payments paid on parental leave

To continue closing Australia’s gender pay gap, which currently sits at 12 per cent (ranking the country 26th in the world for gender equality), $1.1 billion will go towards paying superannuation on top of government-funded parental leave for parents of babies born or adopted after 1 July 2025.

This was a key recommendation from the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, headed up by soon-to-be Governor-General Sam Mostyn AO, and is expected to help 180,000 families each year.

This will be further enhanced by upcoming increases to employers’ compulsory superannuation payments, which will increase from 11 to 11.5 per cent in June and, by July 2025, will sit at 12 per cent. 

These changes build off previous enhancements to Australia’s paid parental leave scheme, which will add an extra two weeks’ paid leave from July this year, eventually taking the scheme from 20 to 26 weeks in total by July 2026.

Funding towards family and domestic violence prevention

Earlier this month, we saw nation-wide protests demanding more government action towards women’s safety, following the murder of 27 women in Australia this year.

Rather than establishing a royal commission into domestic violence, as many Australians called for, the government has announced a $925-million package to end violence against women and children, with the aim of contributing to women’s safety and economic security, and facilitating independence for victim-survivors of family and domestic violence.

Chalmers notes that more needs to be done to curb the worrying rates of violence and abuse towards women, a sentiment that many agree with.

“Women’s safety and ability to escape gendered violence is intertwined with their economic security, and we also know that more needs to be done to fund the services supporting women escaping violence,” says Lloyd-Hurwitz.

HECS debts wiped

More than three million Australian students are set to benefit from the government wiping $3 billion worth of student HECS debts. Chalmers announced that the government will cap indexation of student loans to either match the consumer price index or the wage price index, whichever is lower. This will be backdated to mid-2023 and is set to deliver $1200 to the average student.

Under a separate initiative, teaching, nursing, midwifery and social work students undertaking practical work placements as part of their studies will now be paid $319.50 per week, following a $1.6 billion commitment from the government.

Mental health

Recognising the prevalence of mental health concerns among Australians, the Budget has pledged $888.1 million to help people get the mental health care they need.

This investment will span eight years, and includes the introduction of a free, low-intensity digital service for people with mild mental health concerns. Through this service, every Australian will be able to access timely mental health support without a GP referral. Approximately 150,000 people are expected to make use of this service each year.

Significantly, $10.8 million has also been set aside to support the mental and financial wellbeing of small business owners, recognising the significant challenges faced by this cohort in recent years. This provision will give small business owners access to tailored, free and confidential support. 

Small business support with industrial relations reforms

As well as supporting SME owners’ mental health, the government has pledged to offer further support to businesses to understand and maintain compliance with the swathe of industrial relations (IR) reform that have recently been announced.

The government announced over $20 million to support small business owners to navigate the new IR landscape. The Fair Work Ombudsman is set to receive the funds over the next four years, with a large portion funding the Employment Advisory Service, which provides assistance to both employees and employers regarding workplace rights and obligations in the form of educational resources, dispute resolutions and information about maintaining compliance with workplace laws.

The funds will also be used to help small businesses navigate the recently passed Right to Disconnect legislation, which is set to come into effect in August 2025 for small businesses (all other businesses will need to comply from August this year).

Small businesses, who are perhaps feeling the brunt of Australia’s cost-of-living crisis, will also receive tax relief with the extension of the instant asset write-off scheme.

This means that organisations with less than $10 million annual turnover can claim an immediate tax deduction for any eligible business assets up to $20,000 – be that a new computer, operational machinery or office equipment. This measure is yet to be passed in law.

Future Made in Australia and our net zero goals

In a bid to position Australia as an “indispensable” part of the global net zero economy, Chalmers announced the 10-year $22.7 billion Future Made in Australia package to help facilitate the private sector investment required for Australia to move towards a net zero future. 

This includes $17.3 million to mobilise private sector investment in sustainable activities, and $399 million to establish the Net Zero Economy Authority and support the economy-wide net zero transformation.

The Net Zero Economy Authority will promote orderly and positive net zero economic transformation. Its functions will include catalysing investments in new industries and jobs, supporting workers impacted by the net zero transition, coordinating policy design and building community engagement.

The package also includes $8 billion over the decade to accelerate investment in renewable hydrogen.

“Australia’s biggest opportunity for growth and prosperity is the global shift to clean energy,” said Chalmers.  “By acting now, our resources, our researchers and our regions can help power the world.”

To learn more about how the budget might affect you, read the full budget papers here.

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