SA fair work Bill introduced

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SA fair work Bill introduced

A minimum wage for South Australian workers and a 100% increase in the industrial relations inspectorate are some of the major initiatives of the South Australian Fair Employment Bill, introduced into Parliament on 13 October 2004.

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A minimum wage for South Australian workers and a 100% increase in the industrial relations inspectorate are some of the major initiatives of the South Australian Fair Employment Bill, introduced into Parliament on 13 October 2004.

Michael Wright, Minister for Industrial Relations, announced to Parliament that ‘This Bill is about helping the disadvantaged, and making sure that our existing law is better understood, applied and enforced’.

Minister Wright said that South Australia does not even have a minimum wage – 'we cannot allow South Australians to
continue to be left behind. Surely a minimum wage for all South Australians should be one of the most basic aspects of our minimum standards.'

The Government has decided to make a major investment in the Industrial Relations Inspectorate, funding a 100% increase in the
Industrial Relations Inspectorate from 1 July 2005.

The final Bill introduced to the Parliament was the result of a consultation process conducted by the Government. In 2002 there was the Stevens Review (see:previous story), which included consultation with stakeholders and formal submissions.

In 2003, there was consultation on the recommendations of the Stevens Review. On the 19 December 2003, the Government released a draft Bill for consultation, and approximately 80 submissions were received in response to this.

Major initiatives

Major initiatives of the final Bill include:

  • declaratory judgements about whether workers are employees or contractors (applying the existing law);

  • changes to minimum employment standards, to include carer’s leave and bereavement leave;

  • a pay equity provision in relation to awards;

  • increasing the potential length of enterprise agreements from two to three years;

  • multi-employer enterprise agreements;

  • the introduction of best endeavours bargaining and transmission of business provisions;

  • the reintroduction of tenure for members of the commission;

  • changes to unfair dismissal provisions including an increased emphasis on reinstatement, recognition of the significance of the size of the business concerned, protection for injured workers, and the capacity for labour hire workers to seek redress from host employers for their unfair actions;

  • restoring the powers of inspectors; and

  • protections for outworkers to help make sure they get paid for the work that they do.

Controversial legislation

The proposed legislation is causing some controversy. Giving unions greater access to workplaces and empowering the Industrial Relations Commission to force businesses to re-employ a dismissed employee in unfair dismissal cases has drawn negative comment from business.

The controversy over whether independent contractors may be forced to become employees of the business they are contracted to caused considerable debate in the lead up to the Bill's introduction.

One major issue of contention has been withdrawn - the unfair contract provisions which would have enabled the commission to retrospectively rewrite any contract it deemed to be unfair. Other concessions to employers include removing the right of unions to enter employers' homes and reducing the ability of the commission to intrude on contractual arrangements between businesses and labour hire firms or independent contractors.

The Bill, fully titled 'Industrial Law Reform (Fair Work) Bill 2004', and associate documents can be found here.

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