Labor’s IR promises now at the fore

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Labor’s IR promises now at the fore

With Labor narrowly winning a nail-biting race to form minority government yesterday, industry and unions will now be looking for PM Julia Gillard to honour a number of IR election promises.

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With Labor narrowly winning a nail-biting race to form minority government yesterday, industry and unions will now be looking for PM Julia Gillard to honour a number of IR election promises.
 
Although Labor steadfastly refused to make any major changes to its new Fair Work regime, it did pledge to toughen up worker protections and entitlements.
 
Workers can expect to be guaranteed up to three months of unpaid wages, full redundancy pay (up to four weeks for each year of service) and all annual and long service leave, if their employer goes bust.
 
The new entitlements would not apply to the portion of income earned above the annually indexed rate of $108,300, nor to directors or ‘excluded employees’ as defined by the Corporations Act 2001.
 
Super saved
 
Labor promised to strengthen compliance measures to ensure employees receive their superannuation entitlements.
 
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) would also be given increased powers and stronger penalties to take action against companies who ‘do the wrong thing’.
 
Paternity leave
 
In the dying days of the campaign, Gillard also promised two weeks paid paternity leave for fathers of newborn babies.
 
This would be provided in addition to Federal Labor’s 18 weeks paid parental leave (PPL), due to commence on 1 January 2011. Parents would still be able to choose to share the 18 weeks PPL between them.
 
The new entitlement would be available to eligible fathers from 1 July 2012 and is expected to cost the Federal Government $146m.
 
Greens to push for IR changes
 
Employers and unions will also be watching the Greens closely now that it will hold the balance of power in the Senate (from July 2011) and with its new ‘marriage’ with the ALP.
 
The Greens had committed the party to a radical IR policy during the election campaign, which would also have implications for the operation of OHS.
 
The Greens signalled they wanted to liberalise unions’ right of entry, abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC), extend the matters allowed in collective bargaining and limit the harmonisation process for national OHS and IR legislation.
 
It is also likely there will be further debate on the Federal Government’s PPL scheme, with the Greens wanting it extended to six months and include superannuation.
 
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