Decision adds weight to federal government push to remove tallies

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Decision adds weight to federal government push to remove tallies

The Federal Government has hailed the decision of the Full Bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in Section 113 Application for Variation of the Federal Meat Industry [Processing] Award 1996, Print S9669, [2000] 1060 IRCommA, 1 September 2000, as irrefutable evidence justifying the passage of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Tallies and Picnic Days) Bill 2000.

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The Federal Government has hailed the decision of the Full Bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in Section 113 Application for Variation of the Federal Meat Industry [Processing] Award 1996, Print S9669, [2000] 1060 IRCommA, 1 September 2000, as irrefutable evidence justifying the passage of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Tallies and Picnic Days) Bill 2000.

The Full Bench of the Commission opted to vary the Federal Meat Industry [Processing] Award 1996 by replacing tally provisions with an incentive based safety net payment system. The decision was perceived as a win for the Government's legislative reform agenda, and the Bill which proposes removing tally provisions from all awards as part of the award simplification process.

Background

In September 1999 the Full Bench of the Commission amended the Federal Meat Industry (Processing) Award. In the process consideration was given as to whether simplified awards ought to provide for a system of payment by results (that is the tally system). It was held in principle that the Award's existing tally provisions ought to be deleted and replaced with a simplified safety net prescription that permits incentive based payment systems. The Commission did not finalise the details of how such a scheme would operate. Rather, the Full Bench encouraged parties to the Award to give consideration to the application of the Paid Rates Review Decision (reported in HR Link 126/98). The Full Bench also directed Leary C to prepare a report to assist the Bench in finalising provisions dealing with incentive payment systems.

On 28 April 2000, Leary C submitted her report. The report identified a number of issues that required a determination by the Commission. They included; the form of new 'payment by results' provisions; and whether any measures would be required to protect the earnings of current award employees.

The form of an incentive payment systems provision

There was general agreement on the nature of an incentive-based payment system. Under the new provision, daily hire employees engaged in incentive payment systems will be entitled to minimum rates made up of the appropriate timework rate plus a 20% incentive loading and a 10% daily hire loading.

Protection for current award employees

In September 1999 the Full Bench expressed concern about the way in which the earnings of employees might be protected once an incentive based payment provision commenced operation. The Commission accepted that:

...the new provisions should suffice generally to produce pay levels that will match or exceed those that were associated with the system in operation prior to the commencement of the safety net provision. For that reason we are prepared to allow the new provision to operate for a period of time and then to reassess the position on application.

Order

The Full Bench directed that the order necessary to give effect to the decision be settled by Leary C with recourse to the Full Bench. The adjusted award with minimum rates replacing the tally system will, regardless of when Leary C's order is made, operate from the first pay period commencing on or after 1 October 2000.

 
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