The McGowan Government has passed the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 through the Legislative Assembly, bringing reform to bolster employment protections for workers one step closer.
A key component of the Bill is ensuring that State industrial laws do not exclude employees from their coverage. Currently, various categories of employees are excluded from minimum wages and other employment protections, including employees engaged in domestic service in a private home.
These exclusions have been identified by the Commonwealth Government as a barrier to Australia ratifying the International Labour Organization Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 which aims to support the global fight against modern slavery. Australia is prevented from joining 46 other countries in ratifying the Protocol because of Western Australia’s exclusions.
The Bill will also give the McGowan Government the ability to bring local government into the State industrial relations system, where it belongs.
Currently, local government workplaces are regulated by either the WA industrial relations system or by Fair Work. Bringing all local government bodies under the one jurisdiction will provide clarity and certainty for employers and employees.
Returning local government workplace regulation to the State system will ensure our local governments are regulated by laws that are effective, fair, and that meet the expectations of WA ratepayers, rather than laws originating from Canberra.
Other key reforms of the Bill include making Easter Sunday a public holiday in Western Australia and giving employees a new entitlement to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
As stated by Industrial Relations Minister Stephen Dawson:
“Local governments are part of the body politic of the State, entrusted with the delivery of essential services to the communities they represent. It is entirely appropriate that local governments be regulated by the State industrial relations system rather than the national system.
“Our local government workers don’t belong in the national system. WA local government workers belong in the Western Australian industrial relations system.
“Every worker deserves to be safe at work and this Bill reinforces that sexual harassment in the workplace should never be tolerated.
“The Bill will also make Easter Sunday a public holiday in Western Australia for the first time, in recognition of the cultural and religious significance of this day. This will align WA with a number of other States and Territories that recognise Easter Sunday, and increase the total number of public holidays in the State to 11.”