Push to scrap four-yearly award reviews

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Push to scrap four-yearly award reviews

Cabinet minister Peter Dutton has this morning introduced a bill to repeal the Fair Work four yearly-review system. The bill will additionally allow the Fair Work Commission to ignore minor errors in enterprise bargaining and it also gives extra powers to remove rogue Commission members.

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Immigration minister Peter Dutton has today introduced a bill to scrap the Fair Work four yearly-review system.

The bill will also allow the Fair Work Commission to ignore minor errors in enterprise bargaining and provide extra powers to remove rogue commission members.

System 'hugely resource-intenstive'


The Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and other Measures) Bill 2017 has been introduced as a follow-up to an earlier Productivity Commission inquiry into the workplace relations framework.

The Productivity Commission report found that the four-yearly review system was “hugely resource-intensive for all involved”.

According to Mr Dutton’s second reading speech (also given today) abolition of the system will save employers and unions about $87m over the next 10 years.

“This amount represents a significant regulatory burden,” Mr Dutton told the House of Representatives.

He said there was “broad support” for a repeal, citing a joint request from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Council of Trade Unions to abolish the four yearly review.

Minor errors in EBAs


The bill also enables the Fair Work Commission to overlook minor procedural or technical errors when approving an enterprise agreement.

“Proscriptive, inflexible rules set out in the Fair Work Act mean that inconsequential procedural or technical errors made during bargaining prevent [the commission] from approving an enterprise agreement... the Productivity Commission’s report highlighted an infamous case where an agreement was rejected because the employer stapled additional pages to the Notice of Employee Representational Rights form,” Mr Dutton said.

Terminating appointments


Finally, the bill will also boost the ability of Parliament to handle rogue members of the commission.

The bill will clarify that the complaint-handling powers of the Minister for Employment and the President of the Fair Work Commission will apply to all members of the commission.

The bill will, if enacted, apply the Judicial Misbehaviour and Incapacity (Parliamentary Commissions) Act 2012 so that Parliament can establish an inquiry and write to the Governor-General asking for a termination of appointment.
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