Small Business Award a must have for SMEs – Employsure

Published October 28, 2020 (last updated January 25, 2022) -
SME Award

Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor to more than 28,000 clients, is calling on the Industrial Relations minister to reconsider his refusal to introduce a small business award.

The Federal Government has been in IR reform discussions throughout the year, since a raft of flexibilities were introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Christian Porter has led the process by meeting with employers, industry groups and employee representatives to chart a reform agenda. An omnibus bill is expected to be introduced by the end of the year.

As these talks have progressed, the small business ombudsman and several other groups have called for creation of a small business award, to make it easier for employers to navigate the complexities of Australia’s regulatory system.

Minister Porter has since ruled out the creation of such an award, suggesting existing modern awards could be updated instead. Employsure Managing Director Ed Mallett believes a small business award would greatly benefit SMEs.

“The overwhelming view among our small business clients is that Australia’s workplace relations legislation is far too complicated, particularly for those with less than 20 employees and no expert HR or legal departments,” he said.

“There are more than 120 Modern Awards in the Australian workplace relations system. For some businesses, even small ones, they may have to comply with more than one Award. A small business award would help introduce a simple set of rules for those who employ 15 or less full-time equivalents to follow. The complexity of Australia’s award system allows little margin for error and poses a serious risk to business owners just trying to navigate a difficult system.”

Employsure will this year take more than 267,000 calls from its clients needing help to meet their workplace obligations. According to Mr Mallett, the committees the Government has set up during IR reform discussions have rarely, if not at all, reached out to small businesses for their input.

“As far as I know, none of our 28,000 clients have been approached, or have been asked what they would like to see from this reform. Instead, what the Government has done is employed people to these committees who have very little in common with those small businesses. These people ultimately go on and represent the views of those employers they haven’t spoken to.

“As a consequence, these people are spending their time waffling on about things that are irrelevant to small businesses. They’re talking about enterprise bargaining for example, which does not affect small business and is a waste of time for them.

“Complexity breeds a lack of confidence, when simplicity is what we need. Workplace relations legislation should be the framework that enables business growth, not prohibits it,” concluded Mr Mallett.

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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