Boot the BOOT test for each worker, says employer body

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Boot the BOOT test for each worker, says employer body

A leading employer organisation has expressed concern that enterprise agreements will be strangled in red tape if Fair Work Australia (FWA) has to ensure that every individual worker is not worse off under the BOOT test.

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A leading employer organisation has expressed concern that enterprise agreements will be strangled in red tape if Fair Work Australia (FWA) has to ensure that every individual worker is not worse off under the BOOT test.
 
Australian Business Industrial (ABI), the industrial wing of the NSW Business Chamber, raised the issue this week in its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Fair Work Bill.
 
ABI said it is concerned that the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT), as currently drafted, will mean that an enterprise agreement cannot be approved unless FWA conducts a test on each and every employee to be covered by the agreement, and finds that each and every employee is better off.
 
Complexity and red tape
 
‘Such a requirement would add an unacceptable level of complexity and red tape to the agreement making process,’ the submission said.
 
ABI recommended that the Government redraft the BOOT to clarify that the BOOT will not be applied to each and every employee to be covered by an agreement, but rather to classes of employees.
 
ABI is also concerned that given that an agreement cannot commence operation until after it is approved by FWA, delays in agreement processing will cause significant inconvenience and uncertainty for employers and employees.
 
Interim agreements
 
It recommended that the Government amend the Bill to stipulate that if not approved by FWA within seven days, an enterprise agreement commence operation on an Interim basis.
 
If the agreement is later found to have failed the BOOT, FWA should have the capacity to ensure the agreement is rectified, and appropriate compensation afforded.
 
ABI said that if the expansion of agreement content beyond that which pertains to the employment relationship (which unions want) will distract the participants from the proper purpose of bargaining, that is enterprise level productivity improvements.
 
It recommended that agreements deal primarily with matters dealing with the relationship between employers and employees.
 
Right of entry concerns
 
ABI also has serious problems with the union right-of-entry provisions in the legislation.
 
It said right of entry should be confined to historical union coverage, recognising existing demarcation and/or the recognition of any unions bound by an enterprise award or collective agreement.
 
In the longer term, FWA, or the Department, should be given the task of rewriting union eligibility rules in consultation with affected parties.
 
ABI has taken exception to the new capacity under the Fair Work Bill 2008 for unions to inspect the records of non-members.
 
Written permission from non-members
 
ABI said union access to records should be confined to its proper members, or at least, that unions seek an order from FWA before inspecting non-union member employee records.
 
Alternatively the union should have written permission of each employee whose records it wishes to inspect.
 
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