AFTER 11 months of submissions, hearings and deliberations, the Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers tabled its final report in parliament on September 19 to little fanfare.

Established on 19 October 2017, the Australian Labor Party-led Committee had been inquiring into the impacts of technological and other change on the future of work and workers in Australia.

Titled Hope is not a strategy – our shared responsibility for the future of work and workers, many of the report’s recommendations were criticised due to apparent alignment with policies currently being pushed through ALP and Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) campaigns.

For instance, some recommendations included:

  • That the Australian Government introduce stronger legislative requirements for employers to consult with workers and trade unions before and during the introduction of major technological and other change in the workplace.
  • That Australia’s workplace legislation be amended, to strengthen the protections available to workers and their unions.
  • That the Australian Government review the definition of “casual” work.
  • That legislative amendments are made to crack down on sham contracting and employment arrangements which classify workers who are in fact dependent as independent contractors.
  • That the Australian Government take steps to introduce a national labour hire licensing scheme.
  • That legislation be introduced requiring labour hire workers to have access to and be paid at least the same wages and conditions as the directly engaged employees working alongside them.
  • That the Australian Government legislate to extend workers’ and trade unions’ rights to collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of employment.

A further recommendation that employment laws be expanded to capture people working in the “gig economy” also attracted some controversy, with The Australian Financial Review reporting unhappiness among “gig workers” themselves with that concept.

Committee Chair, Labor Senator Murray Watt, called for “urgent action from the Federal Government, to prepare Australian workers and workplaces for the future”.

The Liberal National Senators’ Dissenting Report called the inquiry a “missed opportunity” and “a union directed Labor election campaign exercise”.

AMMA to lead properly “future focused” debate

While anticipating this inquiry would primarily end up a political exercise, AMMA nonetheless lodged a submission on behalf of resources and energy employers, noting that a more flexible, less regulated workplace relations system would be required to realise future work opportunities.

A summary of AMMA’s submission including recommendations can be found here.

AMMA is set to publish a thought-leadership White Paper in late 2018, putting forward a strong vision for where the industry’s workplaces are headed and what approaches to future regulation of work will be required.

AMMA is currently calling on members to contribute to this vision for future workplace regulation in Australia through a short survey.

Learn more about how you can help AMMA advocate for a future-focused workplace system here.