Business groups urge quick passage for Fair Work changes so it can work on more

Business groups have called for the Federal Government to quickly pass its amendments to the Fair Work system, with the first batch of changes now introduced into Parliament.

The changes, which are a response to the government’s own Fair Work review, include amendments to the unfair dismissal system.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said in a statement the first batch of legislation is a good start, but it still doesn’t address key issues.

“They included more tightly defining the issues which can be the subject of bargaining claims, stopping unions holding employers to ransom over greenfields agreements for new projects, implementing a more effective framework for Individual Flexibility Arrangements, and fixing the poorly drafted general protections and transfer of business laws.”

The position held by various business groups is that the amendments don’t go far enough.

The government is adopting 17 recommendations, with the key change being a reduction in the time for lodging unfair dismissal applications to 21 days. Other changes include the ability for Fair Work to make costs orders against parties that have unreasonably failed to stop an unfair dismissal case.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson said in a statement other changes, such as the ability to stop unions from taking industrial action before bargaining, should have been included.

“Instead of acting on the more meaningful recommendations in the report, the government has also chosen to introduce legislation, which was not recommended by the Panel, to extend the entitlements of public sector workers to the private sector in the case of outsourcing arrangements.”

“Also concerning are unexplained amendments to re-create vice presidential positions in the Tribunal, notwithstanding restructured arrangements having been settled when the Fair Work laws were introduced.”

Willox also noted the Fair Work Act Amendment Bill 2012 doesn’t deal with any of the issues. He said Parliament should pass the bill quickly to focus on more important changes.

Anderson agrees: “Beyond the Panel’s own report are a range of issues which, if left unattended, will eat away at the labour force, the economy and the fairness employers rightly expect from the IR system.”



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