Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Small businesses blindsided by rushed IR changes

The Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) is scheduled to appear before the Senate inquiry into the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 this Friday.

Ahead of this appearance, the FCA conducted a small snap survey of franchisee members.

68 per cent of franchisee small business respondents did not understand the proposed industrial relations changes or know how they might impact their business operations.

Of those who felt that they understood the proposed reforms, 55 per cent were concerned about the changes in the Bill, particularly the multi-employer bargaining provisions.

“These figures highlight the small business community’s strong degree of concern about the government’s proposed industrial relations changes,” says Mary Aldred, CEO of the Franchise Council of Australia.

“This Bill represents the most significant reforms ever introduced to the Fair Work Act. Given the potential impact on our economy, employers and employees – the government should not rush the legislative process.

“This legislation was only publicly released on the twenty-seventh of October and the government has already circulated 150 amendments in response to community and business feedback. This demonstrates that a longer consultation and review process is required.

“Australian small businesses need to focus on recovering from two years of Covid disruption and cannot afford to be weighed down by complex industrial relations rules.

“We are committed to working constructively and in good faith with the government, crossbench and broader business community on ways to improve the legislation”, Ms Aldred said.

Leading employer organisations call for a major rethink of Federal Government’s IR Bill

Australia’s major employer associations have joined together to express concern that elements of the Secure Jobs Better Pay Bill being considered by the Federal Parliament would introduce fundamental and highly problematic changes to Australia’s bargaining system that would be detrimental to Australia.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Australian Industry Group; Business Council of Australia; Minerals Council of Australia; the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA); and National Farmers Federation are united in a call for the Government to either abandon or substantially amend various contentious elements of the Bill relating to bargaining.

“The Bill, as currently framed, should not be passed by Parliament.

“We jointly call on the Government to permit time for a thorough consideration of the content and implications of the Bill. This deeper consideration should include removing the provisions to allow widespread use of multi-employer bargaining backed by strike action. The Australian Parliament should remain open to making further amendments.

“The legislation as drafted does not reflect broad consensus arising out of engagement with industry at the Jobs and Skills Summit or subsequent consultation. It is crucial these proposals are thoroughly examined.

“The national employer associations are particularly concerned that the Bill:

  • Unjustifiably expands the scope for multi-employer bargaining;
  • Fails to articulate clear parameters around where multi-employer bargaining would be available in either the supported bargaining or single-interest streams; and
  • Undermines the system of enterprising bargaining that has delivered many significant benefits to Australia over several decades and currently operates effectively in many sectors.

“The currently proposed framework for arbitrating bargaining disputes also risks unreasonably subjecting broad sectors of the economy, and community, to the centralised setting of terms and conditions over and above the comprehensive system of modern awards already in place.

“The new laws would not deliver any identifiable path to productivity improvements that Australia so badly needs and that are the key to delivering sustainable improvements in wages.

“The organisations recognise the Government has made amendments to the Bill to address some of the concerns that have been previously raised, as well as its commitment to consider further amendments to the Bill. Although such an approach is welcome, there is a shared view that there are many additional deficiencies in the Bill that should be addressed.

“We remain prepared to continue to work with Government, constructively and in good faith, to realise the shared objective of ensuring that changes to Australia’s workplace relations laws improve our productivity performance and promote sustainable real wages growth. To enable this to occur and for sensible improvements to the proposed legislation to be made, a detailed examination of the multi-employer bargaining elements and their justification is needed.

“We call on the Government to consider all suggestions to improve the Bill in a reasonable and coherent way.


Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – CEO Andrew McKellar

Australian Industry Group – Chief Executive Innes Willox

Business Council of Australia – Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott

Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia – CEO Alexi Boyd

Minerals Council of Australia – CEO Tania Constable

National Farmers Federation – Acting CEO Warwick Ragg.

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