Although remaining fairly quiet on the issue, with the Coalition stating no major changes will be taking place, The ALP, The Coalition, and The Greens all offer a number of variations to the current multi-faceted laws surrounding workplace and industrial relations.
Bargaining and industrial action, family friendly measures, and paid parental leave are the primary areas in which all three parties seek amendments, a report from Ashurst Australia has found. These are summarised below.
Bargaining and industrial action
The ALP supports arbitration of protracted disputes, and the Fair Work Act Review panel’s recommendation that, if a Greenfield agreement has reached an impasse, the FWC can conduct arbitration.
The Coalition wishes for employers to be able to negotiate with a single union that covers the majority of employees involved. “Good faith” bargaining will be limited to the first three months of negotiations. After this, the employer may take the proposed agreement to the FWC for approval. Protected industrial action shall not be available until after meaningful communication between the employee and the business has taken place.
The Greens support the FWC having the power to arbitrate if agreements cannot be reached through collective bargaining.
Family friendly measures
The ALP’s measures have already been implemented. However, additional measures scheduled for next year include requiring employers to consult employees about rostering/work hour changes.
The Coalition support the discussion of requests for additional unpaid parental leave.
The Greens support the FWC being able to hear disputes if employers refuses a request for flexible working arrangements. Employers can only refuse flexible arrangements for carers on serious countervailing business grounds.
Paid parental leave
The ALP’s current scheme is administered through the employer, provides 18 weeks paid parental leave at the national minimum wage, no superannuation, is subject to a “work test”, and is capped at $150,000 pa salary level.
The Coalition proposes mothers being provided with 26 weeks of paid parental leave, at greater of actual wage or national minimum wage, plus superannuation. If they elect to be the primary carer, fathers will be paid at the lower of the father’s or mother’s wage or the national minimum wage with superannuation. This will be administered through the Family Assistance Office.
The Greens propose six months of paid parental leave at the full regular wage, capped at $100,000 pa. This includes superannuation contributions. Two additional weeks of leave for the secondary carer will also be provided at the same rate. These will be funded by a 1.5% business levy on companies with taxable incomes that exceed $5 million and an additional government contribution of $1.9 billion over forward estimates.
For additional information on where each party stands on issues, download the full PDF by clicking here.