Dismissal Bill introduced as survey says issue of no concern

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Dismissal Bill introduced as survey says issue of no concern

Small businesses were more concerned with the Goods and Services Tax than unfair dismissal laws according to a survey released by unions today to coincide with the federal Government introducing a Bill designed to stop workers in small businesses from accessing unfair dismissal remedies.

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Small businesses were more concerned with the Goods and Services Tax than unfair dismissal laws according to a survey released by unions today to coincide with the federal Government introducing a Bill designed to stop workers in small businesses from accessing unfair dismissal remedies.

Earlier this week unions announced that they and a coalition of groups would target key Ministers' seats to show there was no link between unfair dismissal laws and the offering of new jobs (see 29/2002). Today in Melbourne Australian Council of Trade Unions president Sharan Burrow released a survey of 100 small businesses in Warringah, the northern Sydney seat held by federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott.

The survey, conducted by the ACTU's call centre service, found 79% of businesses employing fewer than 20 workers said their reasons for not recruiting more staff were either lack of need or insufficient work.

When asked which Government policy caused them the most concern, some 52% pointed to the GST. No respondents cited unfair dismissal laws when asked what other reasons they failed to hire new staff.

The Minister introduced the Workplace Relations Amendment (Fair Dismissal) Bill today. He has long held the belief that freeing up small businesses from unfair dismissal penalties will create jobs.

But Burrow said the findings provided more evidence disproving the Government's claim. 'There is no valid reason for this Bill, which would further undermine the job security of more than two million Australian workers by allowing them to be sacked unfairly and reasonably,' Burrow said.

'Employees in small business should have the same legal rights as everyone else in the workforce. Why should some employees have their job security and legal rights removed just because they work in businesses with fewer employees?'

In his second reading speech, Abbott said another 53,000 jobs could be created if only one in every 20 small businesses in Australia took an extra employee because of a change in the dismissal laws.

The Bill would mean small business employers would save time and money by not even having to attend the federal Industrial Relations Commission, as the AIRC could, in most instances, decide not to hear the application because of the exemption alone. If further information was required, this could be done in writing, he said.

While the Bill - which has been introduced and knocked back numerous times before - is unlikely to pass through the Senate, Abbott has warned further rejection will be seen as new Labor leader Simon Crean putting unions before workers.

IR Shadow Minister Robert McClelland said today Abbott's claim that 53,000 new jobs would be created was 'without substance' and dubbed his naming of the 'Fair Dismissal' Bill as 'Orwellian'.

He also warned that rather than freeing small business employers up, they could find themselves tied up in more complex and costly remedies if employees were forced into common law courts to seek damages for breach of contract.

McClelland reiterated that Labor would not support the exemption, but said it would address issues of procedure and cost.

 

 
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