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The Turnbull Government has quietly issued a regulation aimed at removing a technical barrier to approval of enterprise agreements.

The regulation omits the current contact details of agencies that are included on the Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERR).

The inclusion of incorrect contact details on the NERR has led to the Fair Work Commission rejecting agreements that would otherwise likely been approved.

The regulation, gazetted but not announced last Friday, February 24, will come into force on April 3.

It comes as the Government has flagged legislation that would empower the Commission to fix minor errors in the documentation of proposed enterprise agreements.

A spokesperson for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government would introduce the Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Bill later this week (see Related Article).

The Bill also seeks to scrap the Fair Work Act’s mandatory four-yearly reviews of modern awards, and to clarify the powers of the Minister and FWC President to handle complaints about Commission members who previously held office in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Labor private members’ bill on penalty rates defeated

The Coalition has defeated a Labor attempt to change the Fair Work Act to protect penalty rates in the wake of last week’s FWC landmark ruling.Labor leader Bill Shorten today sought to introduce a private members’ bill, the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Take Home Pay) Bill 2017.

The Bill sought to amend the Fair Work so that a modern award could be varied in a way that would, or would be likely to, reduce the take-home pay of any employee covered by the award.

However, the Labor attempt to suspend standing orders to introduce the Bill in the House of Representatives was defeated 74 votes to 66.

The Labor move was supported by Greens MP Adam Bandt, along with Bob Katter, the NXT’s Rebecca Sharkie and Andrew Wilkie.

Bandt claimed the Greens had spurred Labor into action after his party released a Bill on Friday to prevent the FWC decision on penalty rates from coming into effect.

The Greens wrote to Labor and the crossbench seeking support for their bill.

AMMA’s Amanda Mansini welcomed the Minister’s initiative.

“The regulation confirms that an employee should receive appropriate advice, consistent with the intent of the NERR, from either the Fair Work Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman”, she said.

“The regulation highlights that the Commission’s recent decisions to overturn agreements for providing the FWO number in the NERR are at odds with the intent of the legislation.

“AMMA still urges the government to legislate to make NERR common sense retrospective.

“This would validate the many notices issued before 3 April 2017 and containing minor technical defects such as the FWO phone number, one wrong word or providing documents stapled together.

“These changes are important to get the system functioning as it was intended and would benefit employers, employees and unions alike”, Mansini said.

Fair Work Amendment (Notice of Employee Representational Rights) Regulations 2017

Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Take Home Pay) Bill 2017

Explanatory memorandum

Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Weekend Pay and Penalty Rates) Bill 2017