“Industry welcomes today’s vote by the House of Representatives to support the Government’s Industrial Relations Omnibus Bill. The Bill will now move to the Senate, and it is essential that all Senators support the legislation,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.
“Predictably, the union movement is running a scare campaign trying to portray the legislation as a ‘return to WorkChoices’. You would think that a global pandemic would be enough to stop the unions parroting slogans about IR laws that were in place for only 3 years, and which were repealed 12 years ago.
“The Bill would make some modest and practical changes to the Fair Work Act in order to boost jobs and wages during the recovery from the pandemic, including:
- Defining a ‘casual employee’ in order to provide much needed certainty for employers and employees;
- Protecting businesses against ‘double-dipping’ claims by employees who have been engaged and paid as casuals but who unfairly turn around years later and pursue entitlements they have been paid the casual loading in lieu of (e.g. annual leave);
- Giving employers and employees in industries particularly hard-hit by the pandemic more flexibility under awards, including more flexible part-time arrangements;
- Restoring common sense to the enterprise agreement system in order to encourage agreements which boost wages and productivity by:
- Ensuring that only types of work and roster patterns that are currently being worked or are reasonably foreseeable are taken into account for the purposes of the BOOT, not far-fetched, hypothetical scenarios;
- Requiring the Fair Work Commission to approve agreements within 21 days, where practicable; and
- Clarifying and simplifying the agreement-making requirements for employers and employees.
- Driving investment and jobs by allowing greenfields agreements for major projects to continue for the life of the project, subject to annual wage increases for agreements that continue for more than 4 years and a maximum term of 8 years.
“Industry urges all Senators to support the sensible and modest IR changes in the Bill,” Mr Willox said.