Govt makes small IR concessions, but not on unfair dismissals

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Govt makes small IR concessions, but not on unfair dismissals

The Federal Government has begun to make concessions on its Fair Work Bill to get it through the Senate, but has refused to increase the cut-off point for unfair dismissal exemptions above 15 employees.

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The Federal Government has begun to make some more small concessions on its Fair Work Bill to get it through the Senate, but has refused to increase the cut-off point for unfair dismissal exemptions above 15 employees.
 
It says the 15 employee level was in its Forward with Fairness pre-election policy and it has a mandate for that figure to remain. Independent Senators Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon want the cut off moved to 20 employees.
 
However, an outline of the amendments it will concede has been circulating in the media.
 
Changes agreed
 
According to the document the Government will:
  • increase from 7 to 14 days the period in which a sacked employee can make an unfair dismissal claim
  • agree to support a Greens amendment to ensure the NES give carers of disabled children under 18 years of age the right to request flexible working arrangements
  • extend the lodgement period for unfair dismissal claims from 7 to 14 days
  • back an amendment from Senator Xenophon that waives the requirement to provide 24 hours notice of intention to enter for the outworker sector (evidence was given to the Senate Committee inquiring into the Bill that many outworker operations cease business when such notice is given)
  • provide small businesses and employees who have difficulties with English with a representative in any appearance before Fair Work Australia
  • agree to Family First Senator Steve Fielding’s amendment tightening the reasonable suspicion grounds of right of entry that prevent permit holders from misleading employers that they hold reasonable suspicion
  • move to make right-of-entry visits for the vexatious purpose of disrupting a business grounds for the revocation or suspension of a right of entry permit.
 
The Greens have already indicated they will support the legislation, but Senators Xenophon and Fielding have been demanding their amendments be accepted.
 
Voting begins today
 
Voting on the legislation is expected to begin today, with the Government hoping the legislation will be passed by Thursday, as Parliament next week begins a seven-week break before coming back in May for the Budget session.
 
For political purposes, the Government is hoping the Opposition will vote against the Bill.
 
This would enable the Government to claim the Coalition still supports WorkChoices when campaigning begins before the next federal election.
 
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