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Employment legislation is an ever changing and a crucial political football. With elections looming this year, employment will once again be in the spotlight.
Last year saw the inclusion of some significant budget items, affecting small and medium businesses (SMEs), as well as changes to the Fair Work Act 2009.
This month we look at the possible changes as a result of the federal election, which could affect you.
Productivity Commission Report
The Productivity Commission (the Commission) is the principal advisory body to the Federal Government on economic matters. The Commission recently released a report on how our current employment relations framework affects the economy.
The report includes a number of recommendations, but it will be interesting to see what stance the Labour and Liberal parties take on these matters. Senator Michaelia Cash (Minister for Employment) has already indicated that the Government will undertake further consultation with key stakeholders on the report, including SMEs, prior to taking any particular action.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC)
The FWC continues to perform an ongoing review of Modern Awards. The FWC is looking at resolving inconsistencies between the National Employment Standards (NES) and the awards, as well as some important changes offering greater flexibility for employers and employees.
In addition to these amendments, the FWC is constantly reviewing and changing individual awards in order to resolve inconsistencies with the NES. As this can happen on a monthly basis, it makes it exceptionally tricky for businesses to keep up with the ever changing landscape.
What can you expect from the Liberal and Labour party?
The major parties are keeping their cards relatively close to their chest on their employment policies. The Liberal party has hinted that they will use this election to obtain a mandate for changing the employment relations framework.
Whereas, the Labour party has hinted that they will seek to increase fines for employers that take advantage of vulnerable employees, and even introducing jail time for breaches of employment obligations. Considering how complicated our current employment relations framework is, there is a risk this could affect employers who unintentionally fail to comply, rather than those who deliberately seek to breach their obligations.
Whichever party draws your interest, employment relations will continue to be a complex, ever-changing and uncertain area that is a focal point for campaigns. The 2015 budget saw Tony Abbott seek to prevent parents claiming both employer-funded and taxpayer-funded paid parental leave in a remarkable change of policy, meaning just about anything is possible.
Employsure can assist you navigate the changing landscape and is always on hand to advise on any changes and what these mean for your business.