Employers welcome delay on proposed IR reforms until next year

Senate sets February 2024 deadline for its report on the bill

Employers welcome delay on proposed IR reforms until next year

Employers across Australia have welcomed the Senate's motion to delay until next year the government's latest controversial industrial relations (IR) reforms.

The Senate on Thursday set to February 2024 the deadline for its report on the Closing Loopholes Bill, effectively delaying the government's plan to get the legislation passed by Christmas time.

Five crossbenchers joined the Opposition in setting the February 2024 deadline.

The Australian Financial Review reported that the crossbenchers expressed concern about the time needed to understand the reforms.

Senator David Pocock said he was "mindful of adding further complexity to businesses, especially small businesses, as well as ensuring there is time to look at any unintended consequences," the AFR reported.

A 'welcome move' on IR reforms

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said the government's attempt to rush the law has been "rightly thrown out."

"The government has admitted that this legislation will drive up prices. It is entirely proper that the Senate carefully considers every word, every comma, and every full stop in this legislation," said ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar in a statement.

National employer association Ai Group also called the Senate's motion a "welcome move that will provide more time for proper scrutiny" on the bill.

"A comprehensive inquiry is essential, given the breadth, scope and impact of the Government's proposed measures on employers, their workers, casual workers, labour hire employees, contractors, transport workers and gig workers," said Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox in a statement.

According to Willox, the Ai Group will actively contribute during the inquiry, and it looks forward to working with senators to "mitigate some of its worst aspects."

‘Rushed’ reforms ‘without proper consultation’

Meanwhile, the Business Council of Australia (BCA) said the government should use the additional time it received to review its bill.

"Last year's initial tranche of workplace changes was rushed through the Parliament without proper consultation, so additional time is critical this time around," said BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott in a statement.

"Now is the opportunity for the Federal Government to go back to the drawing board to identify the problems they are trying to solve and make them clear to the Australian community."

The Albanese government tabled this week its Closing Loopholes Bill, which seeks to criminalise wage theft, address the labour hire loophole, and offer protections to employee-like workers.

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