FWA information ‘hard to understand’, say retailers

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FWA information ‘hard to understand’, say retailers

A retail employers’ association claims information about the new modern award system is ‘confusing, hard to understand and extra information cannot be easily accessed by small business’.

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A retail employers’ association claims information about the new modern award system is ‘confusing, hard to understand and extra information cannot be easily accessed by small business’.
 
Peter Strong, CEO of the National Independent Retailers Association (NIRA), said some employers were spending more than 90 minutes on the FWA help line before they ‘give up and hang up and get back to the business they run’.
 
Confusing
 
Strong also complained that the language used in explaining the new system is also confusing.
 
‘For example one clause states “the employer must pay no less than the loading or penalty in this award plus the specified proportion of the transitional percentage” — was this designed for rocket scientists?’ he said.
 
‘On the positive side the flexibility clauses in the modern award look like an excellent tool that should be able to be used to benefit employees and small business operators.’
 
Increase efficiency
 
‘There is an opportunity for properly negotiated changes that will increase efficiency and job opportunities, but the way the awards are written it is still confusing and getting information about the awards is difficult.’
 
Strong said that more than $10m was provided to unions to better skill their workplace advocates in the new IR system.
 
‘That $10m donated to the unions would have been better spent developing a support system for the largest group of employers in the country,’ he said.
 
‘Small business, particularly small retailers, should have their own specialised help line run by industry experts who can talk the language of the employer.’
 
Complex system
 
Strong said a small businesses is actually an individual who cannot possibly manage a complex workplace relations system as well as OH&S, tax requirements, local ordinance, marketing, financial management, stock control, as well as earn an income.
 
‘They aren’t big business,’ he said.
 
‘They don’t have a pay team and a raft of advisers. They haven’t got the time to sit on the phone for hours and hours waiting for an answer.’
 
He asked the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Minister for Small Business, Craig Emerson, to ensure that the government’s agencies approach to small business be ‘cooperation, education and access to information’, and that support to small business is adequately resourced.
 
Cooperation
 
‘Giving union officials deep understanding of workplace laws will not have the same positive results as supporting the employer in the first place,’ Strong said.
 
‘We need to get rid of the adversarial approach traditionally taken by organisations such as FWA towards employers and practice cooperation and support.‘
 
‘When you ring FWA the introductory message warns that any information provided may be used to conduct workplace investigations, which is hardly a friendly welcome to a help line.’
 
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