IR omnibus bill faces a major roadblock, as key crossbencher demands further changes

Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff. Source: AAP.

The Coalition’s IR bill has hit a major roadblock in the Senate, after Centre Alliance’s Stirling Griff signalled he would vote against most of the reforms.

South Australian Senator Stirling Griff said in a statement today he would vote down changes to industry awards, enterprise bargaining and greenfields agreements.

Griff will support a new statutory definition of casual employment and measures to stop so-called ‘double dipping’, which occurs when casual employees receive a 25% casual loading while also being eligible for paid leave entitlements.

Griff is in favour of giving casual workers a pathway to permanent employment; however, he would like to ensure casuals can dispute their employer’s decision, if they are refused a permanent contract.

The senator also indicated he will support tougher penalties for cases of wage underpayment outlined in the IR bill.

“This is a complex and contentious bill, and we recognise that attempting detailed amendments to the remaining parts of the bill runs the risk of unintended consequences for employees and employers,” Senator Griff said.

The government’s IR bill needs the support of three crossbench senators to pass. If it cannot gain their backing before the end of this week, the bill will not be passed until the May sitting period at the earliest.

On Wednesday, One Nation’s senators Malcolm Roberts and Pauline Hanson said they would support the reforms in exchange for several minor amendments.

One Nation demanded exempting small businesses with 15 of fewer employees from the requirement to offer long term casual employees permanent work.

However, the senators want to give casual workers in businesses with 16 or more employees the option to request permanent employment after six months instead of 12.

One Nation has also proposed a review of the new definition of casual employment after one year.

The controversial IR bill has been widely supported by industry groups and small business associations.

On Wednesday, ten leading industry groups including Ai Group and the National Retail Association published an open letter, saying there was “no valid reason why the bill should be delayed”.


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