07/06/2013 - 06:53

Planned IR shift trouble for employers

07/06/2013 - 06:53


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Business would be the loser under changes proposed to IR laws.

There's more trouble on the way for employers.

The federal government’s latest round of industrial relations changes will create a major headache for businesses in Western Australia and should not be supported.

Here’s one example.

A small cafe owner employs 15 staff. According to the proposed amendment, every time the owner wants to alter the roster to meet business demands, he/she will need to consult with each staff member affected (and possibly a staff or union representative) and invite their views about the impact on them.

That’s every roster change, no matter how small. Imagine how difficult this would be for a business hiring 100-200 employees. It’s not practical and puts an extra obstacle between the proprietor and what their customers want.

Another amendment will have bullying matters handled by the Fair Work Commission.

Let’s be clear, there is no place for bullying in the workplace. It is a serious issue that should be dealt with. However, the change sought by the government could require a worker to make an application to the FWC to stop the bullying without having to first attempt to resolve the matter or even inform their employer.

By making the commission the first step, matters are taken out of the hands of the employer.

This approach could lead to a range of claims, not all of them legitimate, opening the door to a complicated, time-consuming and costly process.

If the government is serious about addressing this issue it should consult with employers and employees to determine the best way to tackle the problem, rather than creating a complex arbitration system.

Thirdly, the proposed change to make the FWC take penalty rates into account goes against the goal of achieving more flexible workplaces in an environment of increasing competition at home and from abroad.

While penalty rates are a feature of most awards, in a number of industries the award allows for flexibility in place of traditional overtime and penalty rates. Examples of this include the flexible working arrangements provided by the Real Estate Industry Award and the annualised salary arrangements available to many employees.

In many cases these arrangements were established with the consent of the relevant unions and are working well.

These are just three of the proposed changes that will make it harder for employers to do business.

The federal government seems intent on complicating the most important relationship in the workplace – that between the employer and employee. The proposed changes will make what should be a straightforward process become more costly and time consuming.

CCI, on behalf of WA employers, is lobbying members of parliament from all sides to persuade them that these changes don’t belong in a modern workplace and should be rejected.



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