Ai Group lays our IR reform wish list

Major employer body the Ai Group has called for fresh thinking on industrial relations to help rather than hinder employers taking on more staff as we emerge from the Covid-19 andemic.

AiG Chief Executive, Innes Willox said: “Now is not the time for tired old arguments about IR reform.

“What is needed is fresh thinking and a new approach, aimed at boosting productivity, growing jobs, encouraging investment and restoring economic growth.”

Willox said decisions made by the Federal and State Governments on reform options will play a big role in determining how long the recovery period will be.

“IR reform has an important role to play in the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, the much talked about “V” shaped recovery from the crisis is unlikely.

“Far more likely is a period of high unemployment and underemployment, and a struggle to restore economic growth.”

Willox is in a position to influence reform as a member of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission.

He is also on the commission taskforce examining the manufacturing sector.

Three key areas for reform:

1. Australia’s award system:

# Removing matters from awards that are largely dealt with in legislation, such as annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, redundancy pay and public holidays.

# Amending the Act to remove barriers to award flexibility.

2. Australia’s enterprise bargaining system:

# Replacing the current Better Off Overall Test, which has often proved to be unworkable, with a No Disadvantage Test.

# Implementing new objectives for the enterprise agreement approval process which reinforce the importance of employers and employees being able to reach agreements that suit their needs.

# Preventing unions intervening in the approval of an enterprise agreement unless they are representing any of the employees covered by the agreement.

# Overcoming the current minefield that exists regarding the obligations upon an employer to explain the terms of a proposed agreement before the employees vote.

3. Casual employment:

# The Fair Work Act needs to be amended to define a casual employee in a simple and clear manner to address the uncertainty caused by the Federal Court’s Workpac v Skene decision.

Willox said: “A much more productive and flexible IR system can be achieved, without compromising fairness.

Full details here.

Picture: Innes Willox

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