Federal Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard is holding firm on the threshold under which small businesses are exempt from unfair dismissal laws, saying she will not increase the level from 15 staff to 20 full-time equivalents.
While Gillard was forced to unveil several amendments to the Rudd Government’s Fair Work bill yesterday, she remains committed to the threshold of 15 staff despite protests from independent senators Steve Fielding (who wants a threshold of 20 full-time equivalents) and Nick Xenophon (who wants a threshold of 20 staff) and the Opposition (who want a threshold of 25 full-time equivalents).
Debate on the bill begins in the Senate today, and Gillard is likely to have to continue negotiations with the independent senators if she wants to get the legislation through the Senate by the end of the week.
She has been forced to give ground on the issue of union right of entry, and laws blocking unions from accessing non-union members’ records will be retained.
Under other amendments, privacy protections for employees will also be strengthened and changes will be made to the Fair Work bill’s greenfield site provisions, such that an employer will only have to deal with the union covering the majority of the workforce, not every union as had been mooted.
The Opposition is still yet to decide whether or not to vote against the bill if its amendments are unsuccessful.