Small business dismissal Bill back in Parliament

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Small business dismissal Bill back in Parliament

In an attempt by the Federal Government to assist small business, employees of these businesses are again the subject of efforts to remove their right to take unfair dismissal actions.

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In an attempt by the Federal Government to assist small business, employees of these businesses are again the subject of efforts to remove their right to take unfair dismissal actions.

The Government is expected to introduce the Workplace Relations Fair Dismissal Bill 2004 in Parliament today. The Bill is similar to failed dismissal bills put up by the Government previously.

The Bill proposes the following:

  • prevent employees, other than apprentices and trainees, working for businesses of 20 or less employees from taking action to remedy harsh, unjust or unreasonable termination of employment;

  • require the AIRC to render invalid any application for unfair dismissal made by small business employees; and

  • give the AIRC the power to make such decisions without a hearing.

A small business employing 20 or less employees includes casual employees engaged on a regular and systematic basis for 12 months or more and the employee that was terminated.

Minister for Small Business, Joe Hockey, called on the ALP to support the Bill after it was revealed that Shadow Workplace Relations Minister, Craig Emerson, told a small business meeting that when he ran a small business he didn’t hire employees because he was concerned about the current unfair dismissal laws.

However, Democrat Workplace Relation spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray, came out in defence of Emerson saying that the Bill was a ‘cheap political wedge stunt’ based on the Shadow Minister’s ‘third hand private comments’.

Murray said Government claims that changing unfair dismissal laws will create between 50,000 and 76, 000 jobs are incorrect. ‘It's just nonsense, on the same scale of believability as 'children overboard' and all the other untruths,’ he added.

‘We have too many important Bills to get through Parliament in the next few weeks without wasting time on a Bill that the Democrats and Labor have consistently rejected.’

He said the Democrats are standing firm and will not allow the passing of laws that create different rights for small business employees. ‘This is a first world country with advanced social standards. Businesses are not going to be allowed to hire and fire at whim,’ he said.

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