Employers look forward to 'Greenfields reform'

Experts say it will 'boost business' and 'create jobs'

Employers look forward to 'Greenfields reform'

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) had recently applauded the commitment of the re-elected Coalition government to lengthen the period of new greenfields agreements.

Different employers and businesses have stated that extending new greenfields agreements to six years is “an important step towards genuine and structural workplace reform that will stimulate investment and deliver new employment opportunities.”

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) explained that “Greenfields” is a type of enterprise agreement for a business that is genuinely new and does not have employees yet.

Employers make greenfields enterprise agreements when:

  • They are starting or plan to set up a “genuinely new” business, activity, project or undertaking; and
  • They have not yet hired the people who will work under the agreement.

The FWC further said that these agreements are made when the employer has not yet employed any of the persons who will be “necessary for the normal conduct of the enterprise and who will be covered by the agreement.”

When referring to a location, “greenfields” relates to a place for a business where there has not previously been any building or relating to any enterprise that is “becoming active in a market where there has been little or no previous activity.”

As of date, greenfields agreements cannot be extended beyond four years after FWC’s approval. “As industrial action may be taken after an agreement has expired, businesses may face significant uncertainty and onerous additional costs when they can least afford it,” ACCI said in a media release. However, extending greenfields agreements to last six years will “protect major projects from the risk of delay, disruption and cost blowouts resulting from uncertainty and unnecessary disputation,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“This reform gets the balance right.  Workers will have the continued security of very highly paid arrangements for six years, and businesses with projects worth more than $500 million will have the assurance that workplace agreements will last the duration of the project,” McKellar said.

The ACCI is also optimistic that the reform would benefit investors, employers and employees as it is projected to encourage investments across the country.

“With the continued growth in Australia’s vibrant mineral and energy sectors, and an ambitious pipeline of new infrastructure investment set for the years ahead, this reform will provide businesses with the certainty and confidence that major projects will be completed on time and on budget,” McKellar said.

As for the Labor opposition, it has yet to commit to the said reform. ACCI said it is a “critical test for Labor,” noting that “bipartisan commitment to support greenfields reform would demonstrate that Australia is once more open for businesses.”

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