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Australian Workplace Political Changes The Industrial Relations Act In 2006

3105 words - 12 pages

The Howard Government's Industrial Relations Changes The proposed changes by the Howard government in 2005 with regard to Industrial Relations have caused extensive controversy. These amendments to Australian Labour Law are the most dramatic for almost a century and are set to entirely re-shape the relations between employer and employee, causing many diverse and strong views on the issue. A key feature of the change is that the Government has used its constitutional power to regulate business corporations as the basis of its single, national industrial relations system. This means that 85% of workers are now under the arrangements of the Federal government and has left State industrial relations systems with the minority of workers.A major alteration to the workplace laws is the simplification of industrial awards. For almost a century there have been thousands of different awards, with conditions specific to particular jobs and the industry of the employee. These are set to be minimised with a simpler standard of award wages. This aspect of the changes is known as award rationalisation and it is planned that the previous number of awards, around 4000, will be reduced to only 100. A new body has also been formed, called the Australian Fair Pay Commission, which is in charge of setting minimum adult wages and award rates. It is expected that this new organisation won't increase award wages at the same rate, nor to the extent of the Safety Net of previous years. The Australian Fair Pay Commission will also provide uniform minimum standards for annual leave, personal leave, and maximum ordinary hours of work and minimum wages. Although awards still provide minimum wages, other conditions can now be eliminated from workplace agreements. These include guaranteed penalty rates, overtime and redundancy pay. Due to this, employers are more likely to shift workers from awards onto workplace agreements, which will give employers greater flexibility.Another major aspect which has been changed with these new laws is the scrapping of the 'no disadvantage test'. This means that certified agreements between employer and employee have given somewhat more bargaining power to the employer. The idea of a 'no disadvantage test' has been in place since the Keating government of 1993 and has required that collective agreements and AWAs do not reduce the take home pay of employees. The change now means that when a negotiation between employers and employees takes place, the employer can potentially remove provisions such as entitlements of redundancy pay, penalty rates and overtime conditions effectively making the employee in a worse financial situation. This could not happen in the past, as it would not comply with the 'no disadvantage test'. Also, the maximum term of an enterprise agreement has become 5 years, it is lodged with the Employment Advocate, and these agreements no longer need formal approval before they come into effect.It is believed that with the...

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