Bosses haven't got a clue about new IR laws, survey shows

News

Bosses haven't got a clue about new IR laws, survey shows

Many Australian businesses and employees don't really understanding the Federal Government's WorkChoices legislation and are concerned about its impact on wages and job security, a survey has found.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

5/06 6

Many Australian businesses and employees don't really understanding the Federal Government's WorkChoices legislation and are concerned about its impact on wages and job security, a survey has found.

The survey also found that a significant majority of employees would now prefer to work for a company with more than 100 employees. Such companies are not exempt from unfair dismissal claims, while those with fewer than 100 employees are.

The Australian Institute of Management Victoria and Tasmania (AIM VT) conducted the survey, which involved 1,428 company executives, managers and employees who were asked to assess the:

  • level of knowledge/understanding of the new workplace relations laws;
  • level of agreement regarding the changes to employment conditions;
  • level of agreement regarding changes to ‘individual contracts' under the new laws;
  • level of agreement regarding the changes to union restrictions under the new laws;
  • level of agreement regarding changes to unfair dismissal laws under the new laws;
  • impact the changes will have on job security;
  • impact they believe the changes will have on employee wages;
  • impact of the new laws on future employment plans; and
  • rate their level of agreement with the new workplace relations laws overall.

Participants were asked to rank their responses from ‘strongly agree' to ‘strongly disagree'.

Findings

The survey found that:

  • 62.5% of survey participants said they had little to no knowledge of the WorkChoices legislation and changes to the industrial relations system. The majority of 37.5% of respondents who indicated a ‘moderate to very good' understanding, are business owners, CEOs, senior executives and managers;
  • 66% of survey participants said the new workplace relations laws would have a negative impact on employee job security, with just over 16% saying the impact would be ‘very negative'. High level managers and executives were more positive about the outlook for job security than lower level staff;
  • 61% of total respondents said there would be a negative impact on employee changes as a result of WorkChoices, including 48% of business owners, CEOs and executives, and 66% of general staff;
  • Approximately 70% of survey participants said the changes would make them more selective of future employers; and
  • Almost 54% of respondents said they disagree at some level with the changes, compared to 34% who indicated they agreed at some level. More large organisations - 57% - said they disagreed compared to 47% of small and medium size companies.

Nature of survey

The survey, the first of its kind since the implementation of WorkChoices legislation, was conducted by email and online during May and June and included 112 business owners, 79 CEOs, 225 senior managers, 321 middle managers, and 365 general staff. AIM VT has more than 4,000 members.

AIM VT CEO Susan Heron said the survey highlighted a number of significant issues for both Government and business, the most notable being a failure in communications.

People are wary

‘People are wary of what they don't understand, sometimes often with good reason,' she said. ‘Nearly two-thirds of participants in this survey are saying they have little to no
understanding of the new legislation, and I would expect this lack of knowledge is driving a lot of concern and worry.

‘Clearly there has been a failure to effectively communicate the detail and implications of the legislation in a way that is meaningful and appropriate for all levels of workers.'

The number of participants expecting WorkChoices to negatively impact wages and job
security is also a concern, Heron said.

‘The high level of business owners and CEOs and executives who agreed with this could be an indication that they are looking at using the changes to their advantage and that lower level staff expect this,' she said.

Other findings

The survey also found that:

  • 51% of participants disagreed with the changes to Australian Workplace Agreements under WorkChoices, with 18% strongly disagreeing compared to 2.9% who said they strongly agreed;
  • 68% of participants said in future they would prefer to work for a company that employed more than 100 staff; and
  • Just over 52% of participants disagree with changes to unfair dismissal laws More females - 60% - disagree than males - 43.7%. This is the highest gender difference in the survey.

Concerned and worried

Heron said both Government and business have a responsibility to step up to the challenge of better informing, educating and reassuring the workplace.

‘The intent of WorkChoices is to deliver a productive, effective and flexible workplace,' she said. ‘That will be difficult to achieve if a large number of employees and managers remain concerned and worried about their future - it will ultimately be an impediment to business growth.'

Not surprised

Heron said she was not surprised by the results of the survey.

‘While we fully support measures that improve productivity and competitiveness in business, we have been aware through anecdotal feedback from our membership that there are real issues and concerns. The survey clarifies and confirms these,' she said.

Details

The survey results.

Related

Confusion as small business calls for ‘leniency' on WorkChoices

Howard's IR dream a ‘nightmare' for workers, says ACTU

Most employers wary of new IR system, survey shows

  

Post details