Senate report a valuable contribution that highlights shortcomings of IR bill

“The report from the Senate Inquiry into the Fair Work Amendment ‘Closing Loopholes’ Bill released today is a valuable contribution that highlights the shortcomings of the proposed legislation,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“Ai Group was pleased to have had the opportunity to give evidence to the inquiry and thankful for the work of the Senators who were instrumental in shining a light on the difficulties inherent in this flawed Bill.

“While we maintain our call for the Senate to reject the Bill, we are continuing to talk to all parties outlining our concerns with the latest tranche of changes and highlighting a raft of specific deficiencies in discrete parts of the Bill that should be addressed by any reasonable assessment.

“There are a series of recommendations put forward by various members of the committee which deserve detailed scrutiny as part of the ongoing consultations over the Bill.

“There are a number of key elements that we strongly oppose. These include, among others:

  • The changes to casual employment are deeply confusing and unwarranted. They will result in less opportunities for work being offered to the many employees who value working on a casual basis.
  • The changes to the meaning of who is an employee will be a bureaucratic nightmare for many businesses to manage. Given that the provisions apply to existing contracting arrangements it will also negatively impact hundreds of thousands of small independent contractors whose engagement will likely be rendered unviable overnight by the proposed laws.
  • The proposal to empower the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to regulate conditions for contractors in the road transport industry, and potentially to intervene in commercial arrangements between businesses in the supply chain, poseS a huge risk to businesses in the sector and the many owner-drivers that work for them.
  • The changes which will go before the parliament in the coming days effectively prevent the FWC, which is supposed to be the independent umpire, ever resolving a dispute over enterprise bargaining in a way that delivers an outcome that is in some way less favourable than the current term of an agreement. This has the potential to fundamentally undermine the way enterprise bargaining operates.

“The surprise passage of the Labour Hire provisions pushed through last year, on the last sitting day, meant the range of practical problems and deficiencies in the Bill were not rectified. This will undoubtedly cause difficulties in the period ahead and we will continue to argue for sensible amendments to address these issues,” Mr Willox said.

/Public Release. View in full here.