ACCI wants AWA reform to widen their impact

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ACCI wants AWA reform to widen their impact

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has outlined extensive changes employers are seeking to the legal framework that underpins AWA laws, allowing them much wider coverage.

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The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has outlined extensive changes employers are seeking to the legal framework that underpins AWA laws, allowing them much wider coverage. 

Among the changes it wants are AWAs to be allowed in workplaces where collective agreements operate, people can be offered employment on the basis that an AWA will subsequently be made, and identical AWAs not having to be offered to all comparable employees.  

AWAs more mainstream now

Peter Hendy, ACCI Chief Executive, told an Office of the Employment Advocate function in Melbourne that AWAs are now ‘much more mainstream throughout all industry sectors and have been used in many small and medium businesses, and not just large employers’.  

‘Perhaps more important than the number of AWAs though, is the cultural change that the AWA system reflects,’ he said. 

‘It says to employers and employees that public policy makers will give you scope to reflect your needs and circumstances in legal arrangements that might differ from collective agreements or centrally arbitrated awards.’ 

Hendy said that just like the system of awards, or collective agreements, the quality of the employment relationship comes down to ‘the attitudes and mutual respect and understandings between individuals in the workplace’. 

He said AWAs have allowed the tailoring of reward for effort and higher incomes to be matched by higher productivity and more business and employee flexibility.  

Hendy said the task of extending the use of AWAs would be assisted if there are necessary further changes to the legal framework that underpins the making of AWAs. 

Changes sought

He said the changes employers required include:

  • AWAs to be allowed in workplaces where collective agreements operate.

  • Employment to be offered on the basis that an AWA be made.

  • Identical AWAs not having to be offered to all comparable employees.

  • AWAs allowed to be offered to all employment types.

  • All AWAs to be processed through the OEA.

  • Scope for some AWAs to operate for more than three years.

  • Simpler processes for AWA variation and renewal.

  • AWAs able to operate from signing and work starting.

  • AWAs to operate without delays in lodgement or approval.

  • State governments to enact complimentary AWA laws to allow unincorporated employers to make AWAs with employees.

A copy of Peter Hendy’s speech to the launch of the OEA Small Business AWA Program is on the ACCI web site www.acci.asn.au.  

Funding boost for OEA

In support of AWAs, the Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, today announced the Federal Government will provide an extra $12 million to the OEA to assist small business to take up AWAs.  

ACCI - associate role

ACCI has also accepted the role as the Principal Associate to the Small Business Australian Workplace Agreements Program launched today by the Office of Employment Advocate (OEA). 

As Principal Associate, ACCI will undertake promotional activities in support of AWAs amongst small business throughout the country, in conjunction with the OEA and employer organisations.  

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