Improving the industrial relations system for employees and employers

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Thursday 6 December 2018

Media Release
  • Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations
  • Minister for Women

Common sense reforms to make the industrial relations system work better for both employees and employers have passed the Parliament, reducing complexity and ensuring enterprise agreements and wage increases are progressed as quickly as possible.

Changes to the Fair Work Act 2009, which passed the Parliament last night, will give the Fair Work Commission the capacity to approve enterprise agreements despite minor procedural or technical errors made during enterprise bargaining, as long as the errors would not disadvantage employees.

Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, said that the reforms implement simple, sensible measures to fix some clear issues with the operation of the Fair Work Act. 

“These are common sense reforms. Under the current arrangements we have seen unintended, and sometimes absurd, outcomes which have caused lengthy delays,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

“For example, the Fair Work Commission has rejected an enterprise agreement where an employer printed the notice to employees at the start of the bargaining process onto a piece of paper with the company letterhead on it, rather than a plain piece of paper.”

“These changes will allow agreements reached between employers and employees to take effect sooner and deliver pay rises earlier.”

The legislation also repeals the requirement to review modern awards every four years, which has proved to be a costly and inefficient process. Instead, in a move supported by both unions and employer groups, modern awards can be reviewed on an as needs basis to ensure they remain a relevant and fair minimum safety net.

“These reforms will slash red tape, saving an estimated $87 million in regulatory costs, and ensuring the Fair Work Act continues to operate effectively for both employees and employers,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

“Ultimately, these changes will result in a better deal for hard-working Australians,” Minister O’Dwyer concluded.