The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), Australia’s peak industry body, has slammed the federal government’s proposed Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 claiming it ‘lacks balance’ and ‘needs scrutiny.’
Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, says the Bill to be introduced into Parliament this week fails to strike the right balance in achieving fairness for employees and employers.
In its present form the legislation does not ensure a flexible and productive workplace relations system.
“The Bill includes a number of problematic provisions which should be scrutinised through a Parliamentary Committee inquiry before the Bill is considered by either House of Parliament," Mr Willox said.
"As it stands, the Bill has several significant problems, he said. “It expands the entitlements of employees and unions in numerous areas.”
This includes union right of entry, bullying claims, award penalty rates, the right to request flexible work arrangements, parental leave, hours of work and rosters.
"The absence of provisions to address the sensible changes which industry has been pressing for is glaring, Mr Willox said. “The Bill does not address many worthwhile recommendations of the Fair Work Act Review Panel on individual flexibility arrangements, transfer of business and the general protections. “Nor does the Bill address other important issues such as the need to narrow the range of issues which can be the subject of bargaining claims.”
Mr Willox also questioned sections of the Bill dealing with award penalty rates.
“The provision states that modern awards ‘need to provide additional remuneration’ for overtime, shifts, weekend work, public holidays and the working of irregular hours, he said. “The provision fails to recognise that some awards apply to professional staff and do not include penalty rates because employees in these jobs are typically paid annual salaries. Also, numerous awards include the flexibility to reach agreement with an employee on an annual salary arrangement rather than paying penalty rates. There is the significant risk that these vital flexibilities will be lost if the ill-conceived legislative change is made.”
Mr Willox said it is essential the Bill is not rushed through Parliament.
“Even though it is an election year, important changes to legislation that could have significant implications for business and jobs should not be rushed," Mr Willox said.