The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, has today announced that funding offers have been made to community, employee, employer and small business organisations under the Fair Work Education and Information program; to help small businesses understand their rights and responsibilities under the new workplace relations act to commence on Wednesday 1 July.
In a move totalling $12.9 million, 19 organisations have been offered funding to provide information and education services to employees, employers and small business operators about the Fair Work Act and how it will affect them.
Among the recipients is the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA), who has been offered over $2.2 million to educate small businesses across the country about the changes.
COSBOA CEO Jaye Radisich believes the program is essential to help small business understand their rights and responsibilities, but expressed her disappointment that the program was not implemented earlier, to give organisations time to educate themselves before the act comes into play tomorrow.
“It is good that the government is making available funds for employer/employee organisations to conduct targeted and informative programs where everyone involved in workplace relations can be made aware of their rights and responsibilities. However, I am disappointed these programs will not be in place tomorrow when the act is due to kick in.”
In partnership with Workforce Guardian and Telstra T-Suite, COSBOA will use the grant money to develop a comprehensive online package, which will address many of the questions and concerns small businesses may have about the workplace changes.
“We will build a small business calculator so business owners will be able to determine whether they are classified as ‘small’ for the purposes of the definition under the act. We will also be building a ‘find my modern award’ online tool so that businesses will be able to find out which award their employees will be employed under and all the details about that particular award,” said Radisich.
Radisich said the service will be downloadable, interactive and convenient.
“We believe it is essential to have a resource available online at any time, because the majority of small business owners take care of their administrative and accounting work between 8-10pm at home, so it is important they can access this information at their convenience.”
In addition to a thorough online campaign, COSBOA will be developing a face-to-face educational program, to be reviewed over the next few days.
Other organisations to be offered funding under the program include the Australian Council of Trade Unions, ACT Chamber of Commerce, Australian Retailers Assosciation and the Australian Industry Group.
Information and education services to be provided by the grant recipients will include interactive online material in multiple languages; workshops; and a broad range of information materials. Details of the scheduled and publicly accessible workshops will be made available at www.fairwork.gov.au
In the meantime, more information on the changes to the workplace relations system, including Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman, is available at www.deewr.gov.au/newwrlaws
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