Coalition releases IR policy: no AWAs


Coalition releases IR policy: no AWAs

The Federal Coalition has today released its policy on the Fair Work system, including a promise not to re-introduce Australian Workplace Agreements, and not to ‘weaken safety nets’.


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The Federal Coalition has today released its policy on the Fair Work system, including a promise not to re-introduce Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), and not to ‘weaken safety nets’.
The Coalition’s policy was announced at a media conference in Sydney today by the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott and the Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Eric Abetz.
Summary of policy
The major features of the policy are summarised below: 
  • Parental leave:  as previously announced, a Paid Parental Leave scheme of 26 weeks paid parental leave at the greater of the full replacement wage or the national minimum wage, plus superannuation. 
  • Winding back union right of entry provisions. 
  • Re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission. 
  • Registered Organisations (unions) and their officials to be regulated in the same manner as the corporations law, along with a new Registered Organisations Commission. 
  • Provide practical help to small business workplaces through the Workplace Ombudsman, including a possibility of indemnity from prosecution if the employer makes an unintentional error and had previously sought advice from the Ombudsman’s office. 
  • Enterprise agreements will not be able to restrict the use of Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFAs), although the Coalition maintains that this is not a reintroduction of AWAs. 
  • Support for the government’s proposed workplace bullying amendments to the Fair Work Act, but only in the circumstance where the worker has first sought help from an independent regulatory agency. The Coalition also will include the conduct of unions towards employers and workers. 
  • New ‘more realistic’ time frames for Greenfields agreements — negotiations must be completed with three months of commencing. 
  • Underpaid workers to receive interest on back-paid entitlements recovered through the Workplace Ombudsman. 
  • Amendments to protected industrial action so that the Fair Work Commission must be satisfied that there have been ‘genuine and meaningful’ talks between the parties. 
  • Urgently review the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal for the trucking industry. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will stay. 
  • Improving the Fair Work Act: the Coalition will implement on a number of recommendations from the Fair Work Act Review, which the government has not included in its recent Fair Work Amendment Bill:
    • clarifying the interaction between workers compensation and annual leave (s130) (Recommendation 2)
    • an employer and employee must hold a meeting to discuss a request for extended parental leave unless the employer has already agreed to the request (Recommendation 3)
    • clarify, and ‘restore the conventionally accepted approach’ to payment of annual leave loading upon termination (Recommendation 6)
    • expediting the development of a national long service leave standard (Recommendation 7)
    • changing the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) to account for non-monetary benefits (Recommendation 9)
    • clarifying defences for alleged breaches of flexibility terms in IFAs (Recommendation 11)
    • changing the notification to terminate flexibility arrangements from 28 days to 90 days (Recommendation 12)
    • clarifying the interaction of model flexibility terms in enterprise agreements (Recommendation 24)
    • better monitoring of the application of the BOOT (Recommendation 25)
    • clarifying transfer of business laws applying to workers who transfer voluntarily (Recommendation 38)
    • clearer powers for the FWC to dismiss proceedings due to non-attendance of a party (Recommendation 43)
    • clarifying the central consideration about reason for adverse action is the subjective intention of the person taking the adverse action (Recommendation 47).
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