The Pathway to Productivity is through Industrial Relations Reform

During the 46th Parliamentary term, the Australian Government has a long overdue opportunity to fix inefficiencies and reduce red tape within Australia’s workplace laws, boosting our nation’s productivity and competitiveness.

Through its national representative group AMMA, the industry recommends key policy changes that would improve relations between employers and employees, lift business confidence, encourage real wage rises and restore Australia’s reputation as an attractive place to invest and do business.

These changes address a number of elements within Australia’s industrial relations system that cause significant productivity and competitive impacts in the daily operating of resources and energy businesses.

Key workplace reform priorities identified by Australia’s resources and energy industry

 

ADDRESS THE RAPID DECLINE IN AGREEMENT MAKING

The enterprise bargaining framework has become far too complex for employers and employees to navigate.

The current system provides fewer productivity gains, promotes third party involvement in business management and operational matters, and requires complicated and costly procedures.

There are a number of barriers employers consistently face in the agreement making process when choosing to participate in the enterprise bargaining.

Another area of serious concern is the FWC’s overly stringent and technical approach to approving agreements, which erodes the competitive advantage of businesses and delays pay rises for employees.

Australia needs a simplified agreement making system to deliver productivity gains, wage increases and jobs.

Click here for the business case for agreement making reform

RESTORE COMMON SENSE TO CASUAL EMPLOYMENT

The Full Federal Court ruling in Workpac v Rossato supports the principles in the WorkPac v Skene that employees’ patterns of work were the key determinative factor to their employment status.

The decision tested the application of Fair Work Regulations to determine whether employers can offset casual loading paid to an employee who is later found not to be a casual employee.

The judgment renews calls for the Australian Government to resolve the casual employment issue and provide greater clarity and certainty to employers and employees on the rights and entitlements of casual workers in Australian workplaces.

Casual employment is a legitimate model of employment which many Australians consider broadly satisfactory to their individual skills and needs.

Click here for the business case for casual employment reform

ENABLE LIFE-OF-PROJECT AGREEMENTS

Facilitating Project Life Agreements is a critical and urgent reform that would significantly improve Australia’s ability to attract global investment into new major resources and energy projects.

Such major projects will grow the Australian economy, create tens of thousands of highly-paid jobs, encourage real wage rises and lift national revenues and living standards.

The Fair Work Act 2009 must allow for Project Life Agreements to operate for a period which matches the life of construction for eligible major projects.

The key benefit of allowing enterprise agreements to match the life of major project construction is eliminating exposure to mid-project construction protected industrial action.

Click here for the business case for Project Life Agreements

REFORM THE ADVERSE ACTION PROVISIONS

Employers are increasingly faced with excessive risk exposure and costs of managing unmeritorious claims through the adverse action provisions of the Fair Work Act.

The adverse action / general protections provisions were introduced as a vast extension of employee protections that existed under previous Australian workplace laws.

This has seen an alarming number of adverse action claims being made which can be attributed to the unlimited cap on compensation, the nebulous concept of “workplace rights”, and the statutory limitation for claims to be brought.

To ensure these matters are dealt with appropriately, employers should have a genuine reasons defence and complaints that are frivolous and vexatious must be excluded.

Click here for the business case for adverse action / general protections reform

RESTORE BALANCE TO UNFAIR DISMISSAL

An increasing number of decisions are coming out of the FWC of employees who have been dismissed for misconduct being reinstated and even awarded compensation.

Unfair dismissal laws provide reinstatement as an option even in instances where a valid reason for dismissal exists based on serious misconduct.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees, including for example where there are proven allegations of workplace violence, harassment, or misconduct.

There should be no question of reinstatement where an employer has conducted a full, proper, and fair investigation and a finding that a valid reason for termination exists.

Click here for the business case for unfair dismissal reform

IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF THE FAIR WORK COMMISSION

Employers continue to be frustrated and concerned by the dysfunction and inefficiencies at the Fair Work Commission.

Such concerns include unjustifiable delays in agreement approval, unfair dismissal decisions undermining management and over-reliance on public sector conciliators.

AMMA called for a full-scale review into the functions and operation of the independent tribunal.

Reasonable steps can be taken to improve the performance of the FWC to restore confidence in the effective functioning of the most important employment institution.

Click here for the business case for reform at the Fair Work Commission

PASS THE ENSURING INTEGRITY BILL

A range of measures seek to lift the standards, behaviours, and transparency of registered organisations in Australia – the Ensuring Integrity Bill is just one.

The Bill is good public policy which has been the subject of significant debate since its introduction.

The cost impact of continuing and expanding unlawfulness is a concern for employers and the public more broadly.

Regenerating public confidence in relation to the conduct and operation of registered organisations is important.

Click here for the business case for reform

ENSURE FLEXIBILITY IN INDUSTRIAL AWARDS

Australia is the only country in the world with an industrial award system – making an already over-regulated industrial relations system even more complex and difficult.

This unnecessary level of regulation is out-dated and rigid, stifling the competitiveness and productivity of Australian businesses in a modern economy.

AMMA welcomes the Australian Government’s consideration of award simplification and looks forward to participating in consultation on behalf of resources and energy employers.

It is essential the award system be simplified, provide necessary flexibility to employers and employees, and require less administrative burden on businesses.

Click here for the business case for award system reform

.
AMMA’S IMPACT & INFLUENCE

 

AMMA’s Pathway to Productivity policy booklet builds the business case for industrial relations reform. It includes clear reasoning and practical case studies for each of the reform priorities, all intended to assist the Australian Government in pursuing more efficient, productive and competitive outcomes for Australian workplaces. A New Horizon: Guiding Principles for the Future of Work is the employer group’s most future-focused report in two decades. It explores how technology, demographic and competitive factors are influencing the future of work in the resources and energy industry and puts forward 12 principles to guide future policy making.

.


 

In March 2020, Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA made a submission to the Attorney General’s ‘cooperative workplaces’ discussion paper which explores how the regulatory framework could better support productive and harmonious workplace outcomes.
In January 2020, AMMA wrote to Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Christian Porter, encouraging the Morrison Government to consider a full-scale review into the performance and processes of the Fair Work Commission.
In November 2019, Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA submitted to the Attorney-General’s Department a compelling case for reform to the national industrial relations system to facilitate enterprise agreements that operate for the life of major new project construction.
In August 2019, AMMA made a submission that supports the passage of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019 following its referral to the Education and Employment Legislation Senate Committee for inquiry.
In June 2019, AMMA wrote to the Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter providing a list of key workplace reform priorities for resources and energy industry employers. The priorities identified in the letter strongly align with the key focus areas of the Government’s review of the industrial relations system.
AMMA’s Guide to the 2019 Federal Election provides members with information on the workplace relations policies of the major and minor parties, key areas of union campaign driving the public debate, a summary of workplace relations achievements of the current government and other skills and industry policy announcements.
As the leading voice of Australia’s resource and energy employers, AMMA ensures its case for workplace relations reform is represented in public policy discussions and across the media.