Anxious wait for Turnbull Government response to workplace report
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has called on the Turnbull Government to move swiftly and decisively on a major workplace relations report.
The Productivity Commission handed its report into the Workplace Relations Framework to the Federal Government on Monday, November 30.
The government has 25 parliamentary sitting days to respond to the report publicly, which could be as late as Budget Week in May 2016.
However, CCIQ Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens urged the government to act quickly and with a positive reform agenda.
“CCIQ calls on the Federal Government to design a workplace relations framework that confronts the weaknesses in our current system and shapes a framework for a modern economy,” he said.
“Queensland is perfectly placed to tackle the challenges of the future head on, but requires more balanced workplace policy settings to ensure we come out on top of the productivity and competitiveness challenges of the 21st century.
“CCIQ believes an attitudinal re-think on how to approach workplace relations reform must be couched with an enduring mutual respect and appreciation for the employee but also the success of a small business.
“A more flexible, adaptive and productive workplace will be key to taking advantage of the opportunities presented by modern workplaces.”
Mr Behrens said small business owners were encouraged by recommendations in the Productivity Commission’s draft report into Australia’s workplace relations framework.
The report suggested changes to the Fair Work regime to bring it more in line with small business realities and expectations, he said.
“CCIQ urges the government to make sensible and modern policy adjustments to the Fair Work regime in line with the government’s chief priorities of creating an agile and innovative economic environment.
Mr Behrens said that according to a CCIQ research unfair dismissal was the number one workplace relations issue.
Two out of every three (63 per cent) Queensland businesses who had experienced an unfair dismissal claim expressed major to critical concern with the existing legislation.
“CCIQ has called for unfair dismissal claims to be subject to reasonable limits that restore balance to the employer-employee relationship,” he said.
Flexibility was key in small and medium enterprises. About 45 per cent of Queensland businesses told CCIQ that workplace flexibility had decreased or substantially decreased as a result of the Fair Work Act.
“A modern workplace relations system must allow employers and employees to negotiate individual arrangements that meet both parties’ needs. CCIQ implores the government to consider this in its decision-making when proposing reforms in this space,” he said.
Small businesses also said the current penalty rates regime inhibited economic growth by providing a disincentive to employers from having longer trading hours or offering staff additional hours.
“CCIQ wants to see key recommendations of the Productivity Commission report become election policies of both sides of politics as we head to the polls next year,” he said.