Achievement of casual employment certainty is welcome but rest of IR Omnibus Bill must not be adandoned

Australia’s leading business groups welcome the passage through the Senate of amendments to the Fair Work Act that will deliver much needed certainty regarding casual employment. The amendments will provide:

  • A clear definition of a ‘casual employee’;
  • Protection against unfair ‘double-dipping’ claims that would have imposed costs of up to $39 billion on employers and led to widespread business closures and mass job losses; and
  • Robust conversion rights for casual employees.

We appreciate the extensive efforts made by the Government to develop the moderate and sensible package of reforms in the IR Omnibus Bill, and the support of Senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts in working constructively with the Government on all the measures in the Bill.

It is deeply disappointing that Senators Griff, Lambie and Patrick could not find a way to support measures in the Bill that would encourage the employment of hundreds of thousands of Australians.

It is important that the Government does not abandon the rest of the Bill and further efforts need to be made over the months ahead to secure support. Otherwise, employers will be left with:

  • An enterprise agreement system that is withering on the vine because of an unworkable Better Off Overall Test and Fair Work Commission approval requirements that are almost impossible to navigate;
  • An award system that is far too complex and inflexible; and
  • The lost opportunity for project life greenfields agreements to drive investment and jobs.

The legislation was the outcome of an extensive Government consultation process over the past nine months involving working parties of industry and union representatives. A sensible compromise was reached on the casual employment provisions aimed at boosting confidence, investment, job creation and wages.

This statement is released by:

Jenny Lambert, Acting CEO, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)

Innes Willox, Chief Executive, Australian Industry Group (Ai Group)

Jennifer Westacott AO, Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia (BCA)

Steve Knott AM, Chief Executive, Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA)

Denita Wawn, Chief Executive, Master Builders Australia (MBA)

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