Flexible work bill chucked out

by Elizabeth Barnard27 Jun 2012

Flexible work bill chucked outA bill which would have extended the rights of workers with caring obligations to request additional flexibility has been thrown out by both sides of politics. The bill was said to be adding an unnecessary complication to the bargaining process, as well as altering the objectives of the Fair Work Act.

While a parliamentary committee has indicated its support for extending flexible working arrangements to more employees, it comprehensively rejected amendments proposed by Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Original story: Greens introduce bill to enforce flexible work conditions

In a report released by the education and employment committee, it was said that the Greens proposal to make flexible working arrangements a permissible bargaining item in the negotiation of enterprise bargaining agreements had little merit. Bandt said enterprise agreements had become the primary mechanism for securing improved industrial outcomes. “In my view, it remains preferable that such balances be struck by the employees and employers concerned, taking into account the specific nature of the industries concerned,” Bandt said in response to the committee's report.

The committee also found that the proposed amendment to allow the workplace watchdog to order flexible working arrangement request be met were contrary to the intention of the Fair Work Act. If the bill was passed, the industrial umpire would have had the power to compel employers to grant access to flexible working arrangements.

The committee also formally recommended the bill be re-looked at upon the release of the Fair Work act review panel’s report.


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