Urgent Alert: IR Omnibus Bill Tabled

Christian Porter Tables the IR Omnibus Bill

The Attorney-General has tabled a Bill for reforms to certain aspects of Australia’s industrial relations system arising from the consultation of five working groups comprising both employer and employee representatives.  The Bill aims to facilitate jobs growth to enable Australian economic recovery in the wake of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

The Bill targets five key areas of Australia’s industrial relations system, namely:

  1. Modern Award simplification to improve flexibility and create job opportunities in industries most severely affected by COVID-19, such as retail and hospitality;
  2. Greenfields Agreements with an eight-year life span and guaranteed wage increases to boost investment in major projects;
  3. Clarifying casual employment and enabling casual employees who work regular shifts to convert to permanent employment after 12 months if they so choose;
  4. Simplification of the BOOT test for enterprise agreements and establishing a 21-day approval deadline to drive productivity gains and wage growth; and
  5. Establishing mechanisms for employers to rectify underpayments and ensure compliance.

Summary of Changes Proposed by the Bill

Modern Awards

Relevant Awards

Business Equipment Award

Commercial Sales Award

Fast Food Industry Award

General Retail Industry Award

Hospitality Industry (General) Award

Meat Industry Award

Nursery Award

Licensed Clubs Award

Seafood Processing Award

Vehicle Repair, Service and Retail Award

Whole-of-Project Greenfields Agreements

Casual Employment

Enterprise Agreements

Compliance and Enforcement

Outside of the changes drafted into the bill, the Attorney-General has written to President of the Fair Work Commission, Iain Ross, requesting consideration of how best to insert loaded rates into the General Retail Industry Award, the Hospitality Industry (General) Award, the Restaurant Industry Award and the Registered and Licensed Clubs Award.  This review must be undertaken with employer and employee representatives and completed by the end of March 2021 to coincide with the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

The Attorney-General has also announced that the Fair Work Ombudsman will be given the ability to provide authoritative advice on request, but not fine businesses that act on that advice and remediate any identified error.

Lessons Learned:

Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020