The Jobs and Skills Summit held in Canberra last week proposed a long list of reforms and other actions categorised as “immediate actions”, “areas for further work” and “complementary existing commitments.” The extent of the proposed reforms is much greater than what was originally proposed by the ALP while in opposition. Whether any of the proposals will be part of the legislative changes will in part depend on the consultation that’s now taking place with employers and unions. The Government has stated that it wants to have the legislation in place by Christmas. However, it’s likely that legislative changes will be referred to a Senate Select Committee and there will need to be negotiations with the minor parties in the Senate (noting the Greens are generally supportive).
The main outcomes from the Summit that employers should start considering now, given the potential impact on their operations once introduced, are:
The above are in addition to existing commitments, with the most notable of those being:
There has been considerable interest in what the proposed changes to multi-employer bargaining will mean.
It’s likely the focus will initially be on what are regarded as low paid sectors such as aged care, child care and community services where, with low levels of unionisation, funding and other constraints, there are few enterprise agreements. Some employers in these sectors may be reluctant to enter into sector wide or multi-employer bargaining.
If the proposed multi-employer changes are to be effective from the union standpoint, they will need to have the following features:
While there has been less discussion recently about the concept of “same job, same pay” this will need to be carefully considered by employers as most would now have a range of workers who are not directly employed by them that arguably may be performing the same job as someone employed by them.
Employers should now be identifying those third party arrangements and considering what the implications of “same job, same pay” may be even though at this stage there is no further specific detail on how this criteria will operate in practice. Johnson Winter & Slattery can assist with this review.
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