Part of the reason the system isn’t working is because the enterprise bargaining system has become so slow and technical that it’s on the brink of collapse.
The reality is employees on EBAs get paid more, yet the number of people covered by active EBAs has fallen by 20 per cent over the past decade.
The government’s proposed changes will mean EBAs can be approved within 21 days, speeding up the delivery of wage rises and other benefits to workers. The focus will return to co-operation between employers and employees – the foundation of our industrial relations system – and incentivise more ambitious, win-win agreement making.
The reforms will also make the awards system less complex. The JobKeeper flexibility provisions that enabled changes to employee duties and location of work during the pandemic will apply to distressed industries for a further two years.
New flexible part-time arrangements will give employees the choice of picking up more hours of work. Workers will still be paid penalty rates for weekend work. This will increase take-home pay, address underemployment and reduce businesses resorting to casuals.
Casuals will have a clear definition and a proper pathway to become permanent. Employers must offer casual staff working regular hours the option to convert to more secure permanent employment after 12 months. If employers fail to provide this option, they are in breach of the Act.
Changes to greenfield agreements will extend the life of these agreements to up to eight years, injecting more certainty into pay and conditions, making investment into major projects more attractive and giving people a wage rise every year.
And reforms to compliance will help employers identify genuine wage mistakes and fix them. This will especially help small businesses meet their obligations and ensure workers are not underpaid. For deliberate and serious wage theft higher civil sanctions will be introduced, as well as a new criminal offence.
Put together, this package represents a way forward that will help business create new jobs and contribute to a stronger economy.
Email your local federal representative today and urge them to support this package.