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Credit: dewr.gov.au

What Australia’s new workplace bill means for your business

Since gaining office earlier this year, the federal government has introduced one of its most ambitious—and divisive—bills in parliament. 

The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill, the first part of the Albanese Labor Government’s workplace relations reforms, intends to modernise Australia’s industrial relations system and raise wages. 

According to the government’s Secure Jobs, Better Pay bill, many Australian employees, particularly women, will benefit from a long-overdue pay raise. Meanwhile, business organisations are already organising to oppose it, alleging that it will only lead to further strikes and job losses.

The bill amends the Fair Work Act (2009) in five areas to implement enterprise bargaining outcomes from the Australian Jobs and Skills Summit.

  • Termination of nominally expired workplace agreements is restricted.
  • ‘Zombie’ agreements formed before implementing the Fair Work Act and subsequent bridging period will be automatically sunsetted.
  • Increasing access to single and multi-employer contracts.
  • Making the Better Off Overall Test simple, flexible, and fair by removing unneeded complexity.
  • Increasing the Fair Work Commission’s ability to resolve collective bargaining issues.

The amendment bill proposes changes relating to the following:

Bargaining and workplace relationships, including:  

  • Expanding access to single and multi-employer collective bargaining revising processes for beginning collective bargaining and enterprise agreement approvals, including the Better Off Overall Test; 
  • Revising agreement termination clauses and sunsetting so-called “zombie agreements”

Job security and gender equity, including:

  • Limiting the use of fixed-term contracts for the same function to a maximum of two years or two consecutive contracts, whichever is shorter, with exceptions in specified instances. 
  • Incorporating gender equity and job security into the Fair Work Act of 2009 (the Act) and applicable goal clauses Reforming the Act’s equal remuneration requirements;
  • Reforming the Act’s equal remuneration requirements;

Compliance and enforcement, including:

  • Changes to the small claims process and banning job advertisements containing pay rates that would breach the Act.

Workplace conditions and protections, including:

  • Providing a structure for flexible employment 
  • Improving the basis for anti-discrimination Revising the presumptive liability rules for firemen under the Safety, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act of 1988.

Workplace relations institutions, including:

  • Dissolving the Registered Organizations Commission and moving its tasks to the Fair Work Commission, as well as modernising the regulatory powers structure for registered organisations. 
  • Removing the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 and eliminating the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
  • Following the Commission’s demise, the Fair Work Ombudsman will be in charge of regulating the whole building and construction industry.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke said: “Australian workers have been doing it tough.

“For a decade they had a government that deliberately kept their wages low and did nothing to close the loopholes that have made Australian jobs less secure. That has left people struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living has gone up.”

For more information on what is proposed in the Bill, visit the Parliament of Australia and DEWR websites.

Link to announcement 

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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