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Contractors stand to benefit from new Bill

A NEW Bill before the Federal Parliament promises to make life easier for contractors.

However, the new Bill, introduced in April, has not yet been debated in the Senate in this session and its fate will not be decided until Parliament resumes in August.

If it does not receive Senate approval, the changes to Transmission of Business law will be lost.

Under current law, the employees of a business transmitted or assigned to a new owner keep the terms of the award, certified agreement or Australian Workplace Agreement they had under their former employer or are paid redundancies.

This allows employees to take across their entitlements and their continuity of service.

Before the Commonwealth Workplace Relations Act of 1996 came into effect, the future of employees in outsourced areas was uncertain.

If employees were lucky they were taken on by the new employer on new conditions he chose or they might get some notice pay or a redundancy package.

The Transmission of Business Bill will allow organisations, such as contract services agencies, to apply to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission for an order that declares the client’s certified agreements do not apply to the contract service agencies’ contractors.

Minter Ellison senior associate and head of the firm’s employment law group, Andrew Burnett, fears the new Bill will be problematic.

“The core policy contemplated in this Bill is the granting of extra powers to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission,” Mr Burnett says.

“It gives it the power to hear applications from the transmitter of the business or the transmittee.

“The AIRC can then decide whether the certified agreement does or does not transmit.

“The problem comes from

the time the business is putting out the tender to outsource.

“It is hard to know who the successful tenderer will be and what workplace conditions it operates under.

“And from the transmittee’s side, it will not know if its tender is successful or not.”

The Recruitment and Consulting Services Association is backing the Transmission of Business Bill because it offers its industry some certainty.

But the majority of its members want the transmission provisions extinguished entirely.

RCSA chief executive officer Julie Mills says the Bill is a definite move towards delivering some certainty.

While the transmission of business provisions applies to Federal Awards and not WA Awards, it does affect WA Government tenders.

The successful tenderer for an outsourced government opera-tion has to employ the staff its contract was replacing and the hours and the remuneration has to be the same.

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