Jul 2019 3 Minutes
Post-election workplace relations wrap up
Guest post written by Amanda Fox, Director of the HR Dept - Perth Inner City
Following what was for many a surprise re-election of the Morrison government last month, now is a good time to take a look at what the future workplace relations landscape might look like. Mr Morrison gave his first major speech as the re-elected PM here in Perth last week. In it, he highlighted a focus on lowering taxes, monitoring “regulatory and bureaucratic barriers to business” (with a focus on protecting investments from militant unions) and boosting long term skills growth in new and emerging areas of industry.
Some key elements from the Government’s workplace relations agenda are:
The right for casual employees to request conversion to either full or part time employees has been implemented into 80 plus modern awards. However, if the bill is reintroduced and passed into law, casual conversion legislation will require all employers to follow due process in handling any conversion request from a casual employee.
The jobs market was a focus of Mr Morrison’s first speech, with the key message being centred around “the more jobs that are created the more Australians are entering into the workforce”. This will then lead to keeping he overall unemployment rate down.
Labour Hire Registration Scheme:
Victoria has already introduced its state-wide Labour Hire Licencing Scheme. Now the Government proposes introducing a National Labour Hire Registration Scheme within certain specific industries, with a view to protecting vulnerable workers.
This is set to be the focus of a special unit, designed to focus on employers who knowingly or recklessly misrepresent the actual employment relationship, avoiding employment obligations by engaging independent contractors.
Employers found to have engaged in deliberate and systemic underpayment of migrant workers could face jail time. The move follows a review and recommendations that found a culture of widespread and entrenched wage underpayment, such the 7-Eleven case, which showed some stores were paying employees as little as 47 cents per hour. The current case involving Domino’s pizza workers could follow suit, with a class action suggesting underpayment of penalties, casual and leave loadings and allowance entitlements. We will watch this space as to whether the Government will legislate for the introduction of such key measures.
Ensuring Integrity Bill:
Mr Morrison told the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA the government would prioritize the proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill, which will require the support of cross benchers to be implemented. The bill would enable the Federal Court to ban union leaders from holding office if they break the law, repeatedly fail to stop their organisation from illegal activities, or are considered “not a fit and proper person". Courts would be empowered to deregister unions or union members where there were repeated breaches, a disqualified member would be banned from acting or influencing future union activity.
The 46th federal parliament is set to open on July 2nd, 2019. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will sit for three days from July 2, beginning with formal proceedings to open parliament, we will watch with interest to see how the workplace relations landscape is given priority as the proposed bills are presented and debated by our parliamentary leaders.
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