Where's the evidence on dismissal reform?

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Where's the evidence on dismissal reform?

The Federal Government's determination to push on with reforms to exempt small business from unfair dismissal laws in the belief that to do so would create jobs was not backed up by any empirical evidence, the Australian Industry Group said today.

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The Federal Government's determination to push on with reforms to exempt small business from unfair dismissal laws in the belief that to do so would create jobs was not backed up by any empirical evidence, the Australian Industry Group said today.

The comments came at a Sydney briefing put on by WorkplaceInfo's partner ACIRRT to discuss IR after the election, and followed remarks by ACIRRT director Ron Callus, who had said the Government's 'absolute conviction' of the need for reform was 'curious' given the results of an employer survey carried out just before the election.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry surveyed small business members for their top 10 concerns and unfair dismissal legislation came in at number five.

Another survey, conducted for the Yellow Pages Business Index last month, showed the main barriers to taking on new employees were 'the obvious ones', Callus said, with 38% of respondents citing lack of work and unfair dismissal legislation not even rating as a reason. 'Certainly in terms of a major issue, it's not even on the horizon.'

AiG's principal advocate Matt Moir agreed the empirical data did not support change on the unfair dismissal front, but said the Government 'clearly has a right to claim a mandate' in what it considered unfinished business. Despite the lack of evidence supporting the need for such reform, he said it was 'very much a symbolic issue - it appeals to a key constituency'.

He also revealed that the AiG had copped flack from its members running medium and large enterprises, who didn't see why the small business should escape from unfair dismissal laws. But he said calls from small business members and conversations in local communities revealed unfair dismissal was a major issue for them.

'I acknowledge there's no empirical data that says if you take the monkey [of unfair dismissal regulation] of the employer's back it'll increase employment - that needs to be done,' he said.

Michael Crosby, co-director of the Australian Council of Trade Unions' organising centre, reacted angrily to Moir's comments. 'It's disgraceful that a worker can be treated differently - can be sacked unfairly - just because they work for a small business,' he said.

 
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