Home > Government to introduce workplace flexibility legislation

Government to introduce workplace flexibility legislation

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The Abbott Government will next week introduce legislation to allow workers to trade off conditions like penalty rates in return for more flexible hours.

The ABC reports that the new laws would mean that there would be more flexibility for employees in the negotiation process with the provision that they would not be worse off as a result of the outcome.

Currently, under the Fair Work Act, there are already Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFA) which have similar aims to what the Government is now proposing.

However, the Government claims this is too restrictive because in cases where workers are covered by enterprise agreements, only certain pre-determined workplace conditions can be varied through an IFA.

The new laws would mean that the existing enterprise agreement would not restrict the outcome of negotiations between the employer and employee, even if there is an enterprise agreement already in place.

The move was not welcome by the union movement.

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Ged Kearney told ABC News 24, "It is 99.9 per cent flexibility for the employer and usually it means workers have to do things like sit by their phone and wait for a phone call before they get a shift to come in to work.

"I think it is one of the biggest cons ever put over Australian workers.

"Any reasonable employer right now can sit down with their employees and say: 'I understand you have these responsibilities. Let's make arrangements to help you so you don't have to lose pay'."

Meanwhile, the Government is also planning a Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Laws. According to Fairfax Media, an industrial relations expert from outside the Productivity Commission may be chosen to help lead it.

Fairfax claims that former Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson had informal discussions with the Government about participating in the review last year. However, he declined the invitation to join the review.

During last year’s federal election campaign, the Coalition distanced itself from ‘Work Choices’, the policy of the Howard Government. However, the then opposition promised ''genuine and independent review'' of the Fair Work Laws.

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