Senate Support for Secure Jobs, Better Pay

The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for the Arts

The Albanese Government is changing workplace laws to get wages moving, help close the gender pay gap and promote job security.

After a decade of low wages Australian workers need a pay rise. The Government is committed to doing everything it can to help.

That’s why we helped secure a pay rise for minimum wage workers. It’s why we went in to bat for a wage rise for aged care workers.

The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill is the next step. We have now secured the support of the Senate to get this important legislation through this year.

We thank Senator David Pocock and the Australian Greens for their constructive approach to this important legislation.

Following extensive consultation and the Senate inquiry into the Bill we will include the following amendments:

  • Amend the definition of ‘small business employer’ to fewer than 20 employees in the single interest stream.
  • Provide for a statutory review of the Bill to occur no later than two years after the bill becomes law.
  • Increase the Fair Work Commission’s discretion to refuse to issue a single interest authorisation from 6 months to 9 months from the nominal expiry date of an existing single enterprise agreement, where bargaining is occurring in good faith.
  • The introduction of a “reasonably comparable” test that the Fair Work Commission must consider for all common interest employers.
  • Empower the Fair Work Commission to remove a business with fewer than 50 employees from a single interest authorisation either where their circumstances change or where the majority of employees votes for it, subject to appropriate safeguards. Increase the ‘minimum bargaining period’ for the purpose of an intractable bargaining declaration to nine months, commencing after either the nominal expiry date of the agreement or nine months from the commencement of bargaining, whichever is later.
  • Clarify that conciliation should take place before arbitration of disputes over flexible working arrangements unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • Provide a new capacity for the Fair Work Commission to issue an order requiring a multi-employer agreement to be put to a vote of employees regardless of whether all employee organisations agree, if one or more employee organisations are unreasonably withholding agreement.

Exclude Civil Construction from all new forms of multi-employer bargaining under the Bill.

Provide a new capacity for the Minister to declare, by disallowable legislative instrument, that a particular industry or occupation is eligible for the supported bargaining stream.

Additionally the Government will establish a new statutory advisory committee to review the adequacy of social security support payments every year before the federal Budget.

This Bill is designed to modernise Australia’s workplace relations system and get wages moving after a decade of deliberate wage stagnation under the previous government.

It’s disappointing the Liberal and National parties haven’t learned the lessons of the federal election and remain committed to dudding workers and keeping wages low.

They think it’s “terrible” that we want to give workers a pay rise. They think it’s “terrible” we want to give workers more job security.

They think it’s “terrible” we want to close the unacceptable gender pay gap.

Australians voted to get wages moving again and the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill will do just that.

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