Labor moves to shake up workplace bargaining laws

The federal government has introduced legislation into Federal Parliament that shakes up Australia’s workplace bargaining laws, delivering on a range of commitments Labor made at the 2022 election and at the Jobs and Skills Summit.

The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill is the first tranche of the Albanese Labor Government’s workplace relations reforms – designed to modernise Australia’s workplace relations system and get wages moving.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke said: “Australian workers have been doing it tough.

“For a decade they had a government that deliberately kept their wages low and did nothing to close the loopholes that have made Australian jobs less secure. That has left people struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living has gone up.”

Thise bill follows legislation introduced to establish 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave.

Burke said a key objective of the new Bill would be to help close the gender pay gap.

“Women should not be paid less than men – it’s that simple. That’s why gender pay equity will be at the centre of our workplace reforms.”

The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill will:

  • Ban pay secrecy clauses so that companies cannot prohibit staff from talking about their pay if they want to. These clauses have long been used to conceal gender pay discrepancies, according to Burke
  • Make gender equity a central objective of the Fair Work Act, including the modern award system – putting the issue at the heart of pay decisions made by the Fair Work Commission
  • Establish two new Fair Work Commission Expert Panels, one on Pay Equity and one on the Care and Community Sector. These new panels will give the Fair Work Commission the specific expertise it needs to deliver pay equity in sectors known for their low pay and poor conditions
  • And make it easier for the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low-paid, female-dominated industries by putting in place a statutory Equal Remuneration Principle like that which exists in Queensland.

Picture: Tony Burke

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