Confusion as small business calls for ‘leniency’ on  WorkChoices

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Confusion as small business calls for ‘leniency’ on WorkChoices

As small business called for tolerance from regulators over the implementation of the new WorkChoices system, IR practitioners are expressing their confusion at how the new system will work.

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As small business called for tolerance from regulators over the implementation of the new WorkChoices system, IR practitioners are expressing their confusion at how the new system will work.

At a seminar on the new IR regime in Sydney today, various participants told WorkplaceInfo that they couldn’t understand WorkChoices and kept getting contradictory advice from IR lawyers and senior practitioners.

Lawyers addressing the seminar yesterday described the new laws as ‘a joke and a nightmare’ and said they were extraordinarily complex and difficult.

Confusion reigns

Labor has seized on a call by small business for ‘tolerance’ by the Federal Government in the implementation of the WorkChoices laws by again saying what a ‘dog’s breakfast’ the new system is.

‘I am completely confused,’ one participant at the Law and Finances seminar on “mastering the practicalities” of WorkChoices said. ‘Everyone seems to have a different idea about aspects of WorkChoices and how the new system will work.’

‘We have no idea what to do or how it will work,’ said another.

NSW amendments - will they work?

Yesterday Damian Sloan, a Partner at Middletons told the seminar that the NSW Government’s amendments deeming State consent awards to be State agreements (thus allowing them to keep their prohibited content for up to five years) would fail; today Anthony Longland, a Partner at Freehills, told the seminar he thought they would succeed. 'A State Government can deem a dog to be a cat', Longland said.

Call for regulators to be lenient

The Financial Review today quoted Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia chief executive Tony Stevens appealing for leniency from the regulators.

‘For the regulations to be released on Sunday and then come into effect on the 27th does not leave much time for small business to digest the amount of information,’ Stevens said.

Small business problems

Dr Michael Schaper, ACT Small Business Commissioner, said many small businesses would flounder under the new system unless they had free access to crucial information about wages.

He said small business had traditionally relied on the award system as a guide to fair wages and conditions but under WorkChoices awards would play a much less important role.

‘This means business owners will be in the dark when it comes to setting wages and conditions, and workers will also lack the knowledge about what it is reasonable to ask for,’ Schaper said.

‘The Government’s ideological pursuit of its extreme industrial relations changes ignores the reality of the on the ground position of small business operators seeking to make ends meet,’ Smith said.

‘Because of the complexity of the Government’s legislation and regulations, these business operators don’t know where they stand. A handful of seminars won’t fix that.

Massive changes

‘There are 1800 pages of complexity and red tape for small business to wade through.’

Smith said the IR changes do nothing to build workplace productivity and do nothing to make Australia more internationally competitive.

‘It has everything to do with an ideological desire to reduce wages, slash conditions and entitlements, and remove safety nets,’ he said.

‘And in so doing the Government is making life more complex and complicated for business and industry across our nation.’

Award Review Taskforce - extended deadline

Meanwhile the Australian Government has extended the reporting deadline for the Award Review Taskforce by a month.

The Taskforce was due to issue an interim report by the end of March 2006. However, following a request by Chairman Mathew O’Callaghan the deadline has been extended to the end of April 2006.

Related

WorkChoices: why industrial lawyers hate it – ‘It’s a joke’

 

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