QIRC President identifies massive reform 'teething problems'

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QIRC President identifies massive reform 'teething problems'

The Queensland IR system stands in stark contrast to the deregulation of the federal system, but not all the reforms are working as intended, according to the head of that state's Industrial Relations Commission.

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The Queensland IR system stands in stark contrast to the deregulation of the federal system, but not all the reforms are working as intended, according to the head of that state's Industrial Relations Commission.

 

QIRC President David Hall told the National IR Society's conference on the Gold Coast last weekend that Queensland's history was one of 'ever-expanding regulation'. He said especially significant provisions included annual leave, sick leave, long service leave, and some carers' and bereavement leave now being regulated under the State's IR Act, which meant that entitlements were now conferred on all employees.

Employees in award-free areas had also been given protections that would have been 'unthinkable' 30 years ago, he said, like the ability to sue for unfair dismissal, and statutory notice periods.

But he said certain provisions - s126 and 129 of the Queensland IR Act, to flow on to agreements provisions contained in awards - had 'yet to prove a panacea' and 'transfusion has been difficult' in areas outside single employer public sector areas. He said what was envisaged by those sections was 'difficult to reconcile with the existing wage principles'.

'At the core of those principles is the notion that as the price for receiving award increases employee organisations are to give up, for a period, the opportunity to seek enhanced benefits by extra award arrangement,' he said. 'It is entirely incompatible with that arrangement not merely to stand back and observe the creation of legal entitlements to benefits outside the award but to change the award itself to flow those enhancements into the award in order to ensure that the award is contemporary and reflective of the labour market.'

Those wage guidelines had diminished the role of the federal Commission, he said. While they were necessary when introduced because of the rate of inflation, he said the commission had become an economic regulator, and had stopped being a tribunal to which resort might be had to resolve difficulties.

He also said s275 - that part of the Queensland Act which deems contractors to be employees - was facing 'enormous teething problems'. A major difficulty was that if a contractor was found to be an employee, there was no power to make an order, he said. Section 276 - which like that in NSW allows the modifying of contracts - was, on the other hand, functioning well, and litigation in that area 'seemed to be booming'.

Despite the problems, he said the Queensland Parliament was not to be condemned as 'at least it has shown a pioneer spirit'.

 

 

 

 

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