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Industrial Relations Reforms Bill: What do small businesses need to know?

Published November 1, 2022 (last updated on November 29, 2023) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer

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Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke introduced the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 aimed at closing the gender pay gap, expanding multi-employer bargaining and bringing in flexible rostering rights. The bill included workplace reforms and agenda established at the [1]Jobs and Skills Summit. These industrial relations reforms will accelerate wage growth, particularly among working women. If passed, the legislation will significantly affect every small business in Australia.

Mrs Renee Arthur, Advice Operations Manager from Employsure, an Employment Relations and Work, Health, and Safety firm with over 31,000 businesses has released a statement further to this:

“Labor is eager to pass the Industrial relations reforms bill before December 1, arguing that the sooner they can implement measures to lift wages, the better. However, industry groups have serious concerns about the implications for small businesses. They feel they need more time to digest the bill and its ramifications. The push for expanded multi-employer bargaining could force small employers to get entangled in time-consuming and expensive negotiations.”

“There is also a risk that small businesses could end up getting trampled by unions and lawyers in the new and complex system. The dominant majority could also vote to pull smaller workplaces in an agreement whether they want it or not. No two businesses are the same and multi-employer bargaining can effectively reduce business diversity. It will also marginalise family-owned businesses by pushing them to give way to a smaller number of big businesses.”

“Even though small business employers (those with fewer than 15 employees) and those with existing enterprise agreements will not be forced to be covered by ‘single interest’ agreements, it does expose thousands of businesses with more than 15 employees. The core objective of raising wages is also complicated as wage increases forced by industry-wide bargaining without offsetting productivity improvements, will ultimately be supplied by putting up prices at a time when Australian consumers are already struggling.”

Employsure has indicated that once this bill has been passed, it will be communicating to their clients of their obligations to their employees.


[1] Jobs and Skills Summit | Treasury.gov.au

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