WR Act architects give Bracks IR reform the thumbs-up

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WR Act architects give Bracks IR reform the thumbs-up

Fair employers have nothing to fear from new industrial legislation introduced to Victorian Parliament yesterday, according to conservative legal firm Clayton Utz, which helped draft the federal Workplace Relations Act.

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Fair employers have nothing to fear from new industrial legislation introduced to Victorian Parliament yesterday, according to conservative legal firm Clayton Utz, which helped draft the federal Workplace Relations Act.

 

The Department of Premier and Cabinet asked Clayton Utz to look at the draft Bill and recommend any changes. Clayton Utz partner Graham Smith wrote back saying the firm’s principal concerns about unintended impacts had been met.

The Bill now operates ‘appropriately side by side with federal industrial legislation, awards and agreements’ and will have only a limited impact on business operating under the federal system, his letter says.

‘In particular, it should have no unreasonable impact on those employers which currently provide fair minimum conditions and which treat their employees fairly’, he said.

The Fair Employment Bill picks up the major recommendations of the Victorian IR Taskforce (see previous story), and will supplement the federal award and agreement system.

It provides for:

  • The establishment of a Fair Employment Tribunal, which will administer a new system of fairer minimum conditions for non-federal award or agreement workers currently only covered by five minimum conditions under Schedule 1A of the WR Act.
  • A new set of minimum standards, including:
    1. Annual, long service, unpaid parental, personal and bereavement leave, as well as annual leave loadings;
    2. Hours of work standards, including meal breaks and rest pauses; and
    3. Notice of termination and consultation requirements.
  • Definitions of full-time, part-time and casual workers. Outworkers will be regarded as employees.
  • The Fair Employment Tribunal will decide other employment conditions on an industry basis, including:
    1. Rates of pay;
    2. Work classifications;
    3. Allowances;
    4. Hours of work (ordinary, variations and rostering);
    5. Payment, time in lieu or substitution days for work undertaken on public holidays;
    6. A supported wage system;
    7. Other forms of leave; and
    8. Redundancy or severance pay arrangements.

The Tribunal will also be able to:

  • Administer a small claims jurisdiction for recovery of wages;
  • Deal with enforcement matters and grievances;
  • Review unfair contracts;
  • Declare low wage dependent contractors as employees; and
  • Provide for a system of mediation of industrial disputes.

The Bill also picks up the point the IR Taskforce stressed about the lack of education available to parties on employment rights. The new legislation will create a state-based information and advisory service, with officers to provide information and advice, and to assist in ensuring the fair application of employment conditions.

The proposed start date for the changes is July 1, 2001.

The bill is due for second reading tomorrow. An economic impact statement on the cost of the Bill would be released at the same time, a spokesperson for the Premier told WorkplaceInfo yesterday.

 

 

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