The Federal Election will be held on May 18, and Australia’s Major Parties are busy making their final pitch to Aussie voters. But where do they stand on the key issues of workplace relations?
Let’s take a look at some of the key policies and how they might affect employers.
Australian Liberal Party
The incumbent Government, which is pointing to its track record on workplace relations. It has also announced a range of new initiatives aimed at small businesses that it says will stimulate growth, drive the economy and create jobs.
The track record they’re advocating:
Re-established the Australian Building and Construction Commission
Introduced the Casual Loading Offset, allowing employers in certain circumstances to claim that an employee’s casual loading payments should offset any claims for entitlements (such as annual leave).
Introduced the Registered Organisation Commission
Used recommendations from the Heydon Commission to make it a criminal offence for improper payments or benefits to pass between employers and unions
Establish the Australian Business Growth Fund to provide equity funding to small businesses
Launch its Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow Package, aimed at helping employers take on more apprentices and address skill shortages
Australian Labor Party
The challengers who have campaigned heavily on workplace relations reforms, and been vocal in its desire to end what it has termed the ‘permanent casual’ by adopting policies it says protects workers’ rights and entitlements.
What they’ve said they will do:
Give the FWC greater powers to introduce a ‘living wage’, effectively granting 2.2 million of Australia’s lowest-paid workers a wage set at 60% of Australia’s median income. Based on current figures, this would mean businesses would have to pay employees who are currently on the minimum wage ($18.93) up to $21.17 per hour.
Reverse the penalty rate reductions introduced by the Fair Work Commission, affecting 700,000 employees mostly across the retail and hospitality sectors.
Enshrine the Casual Conversion clause into Law, allowing casuals who have had a regular pattern of work with an employer over 12 months the right to request permanent employment – while giving them the right to challenge an employer who unreasonably refuses such a request.
Launch its Same Job, Same Pay policy, meaning workers employed through a labour hire company would receive the same pay and conditions as direct employees. This will also include a National Labour Hire Licensing Scheme.
Change the legal test for sham contracting and increasing higher penalties and tougher enforcement
Reduce the gender pay gap by establishing a Equal Remuneration Principle, and giving the FWC greater powers to conduct Pay Equity Reviews
Launch the Protecting Local Workers Package – which increases the lowest wage that a worker can be paid under a 457 style visa, and closing other loopholes. The intent is to encourage employers to look for local workers first.
Introduce the Australian Whistleblowing Act, establish the Whistleblower Rewards Scheme and the Whistleblower Protection Authority
Introduce a nation-wide, uniform Industrial Manslaughter Offence
Is there any common ground?
Interestingly, there are major initiatives affecting Aussie businesses where both parties agree:
Tax Cuts: both parties have pledged to drop the corporate tax rate for small businesses to 25 per cent
Instant Asset Write-Off Threshold: both parties have pledged to increase the instant asset write-off threshold from $25,000 to $30,000
Migrant Workers Taskforce: both parties support the recommendations of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce. One of the key pillars of the report focuses on tackling underpayments and wage theft
Regardless of the outcome on May 18, workplace relations will continue to be a major issue in the day-to-day operations of Australian business. It’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest legislation and how it affects you. Contact Us to find out how we can support you — before and after May 18.