Senator Eric Abetz, Minister for Employment, has today
introduced the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014 (the Bill).
If passed, the Bill will make amendments to the existing Fair
Work Act 2006, including changes to:
individual flexibility arrangements
Greenfield agreements, and
rights of entry.
Broadly, the amendments will function to increase options
available to employers, and further encourage individualised
negotiations between employees and their employer. Unions have
already raised strong opposition to the Bill.
Individual flexibility arrangements
Under the current law, individual flexibility arrangements are
limited in scope and can only be implemented where the individual
employees will be better off overall as a result of any proposed
changes to entitlements under an award or enterprise agreement
(otherwise known as the BOOT test). The Bill does not propose to
remove the BOOT test.
The Bill proposes to expand the scope of the individual
flexibility arrangement system, by removing restrictions over the
matters that employees and employers can, by agreement, vary. For
example, this would include allowing employees to trade-off penalty
rates in return for increased flexibility. We anticipate this
proposal will generate a lot of debate and media attention.
If passed, the Bill will remove the union veto power over
Greenfields agreements. If agreement cannot be reached after three
months, employers will have the option of taking a proposed
Greenfields agreement to the Fair Work Commission.
Rights of entry
Under the Bill, right of entry laws would be returned to their
pre-Fair Work Act position. In his press release, Mr Abetz
drew particular attention to the obligation imposed by the Bill on
union officials to comply with a reasonable request from an
employer to hold discussions in a particular room.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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