Government workplace review: what’s next?

by Human Capital10 Mar 2014
Penalty rates appear to be off the table, according to a leaked draft of the Productivity Commission’s Fair Work Act review – but what proposed changes will HR be grappling with next?
Last year, then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard moved to put penalty rates on the Fair Work review's agenda. 
At the time, then-opposition leader and now PM, Tony Abbott, was supportive of “ensuring that workers get a fair go”.
“The pay and conditions of decent, hard-working Australians will be safe under the Coalition,” Abbott pledged.
Fast forward 10 months and a leaked draft of the Productivity Commission’s review’s ‘terms of reference’ reveals no mention of penalty rates.
However, the commission will examine the Act's impact on a number of issues including unemployment and under-employment, productivity, business investment and the flexibility of the labour market.
A number of changes were made to the Fair Work Act 2009 that came into effect on 1 January this year, as a result of the amendment laws passed in 2012 and 2013. These changes surround complex issues to with anti-bullying measures, unlawful termination and dismissal disputes.
While HR contends with the challenges of integrating these changes into the workplace, issues surrounding industrial action, bargaining flexibility, pressures on small business and the impact of regulation have been flagged for further investigation in the upcoming review.
“We are not doing anything more, we're not doing anything less other than undertaking a comprehensive and broad review of the laws,” Employment Minister Eric Abetz told reporters.
The commission has been asked to report back to government by April 2015. Any viable recommendations born of the review will be taken to the next election, likely to be in 2016.
What do you think about the Government’s review of the Fair Work Act?


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