Government must repeal workplace changes in first sittings

Tuesday 7 January, 2014 | Tags: Workplace and Employment Policy

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland warns business confidence in the state will be impacted after new industrial relations legislation came into effect on January 1.

CCIQ General Manager Advocacy Nick Behrens said the new legislation, introduced in the dying days of the former Gillard Government, had added to the compliance and cost burden in relation to workplace bullying, apprenticeships and superannuation.

“This legislation came in to effect on January 1 and the sooner the Federal Government acts to repeal it, the better,” Mr Behrens said.

“We would like to see the Government use the first Parliamentary sittings of the year to act on this legislation and offer a much-needed reprieve to the business community, which is already battling increased energy costs.

“Just when businesses feel they are turning the corner and things are picking up, they are hit with more costs and compliance obligations.”

Mr Behrens said new workplace bullying legislation meant the Fair Work Commission was now involved in resolving bullying matters despite existing safeguards already covering those cases.

Employers can also be fined if they fail to stem the bullying against a complainant when a Stop Bullying Order had been issued by the Commission.

Increases in apprentice wages from January 1 would also have a significant impact on Queensland businesses, Mr Behrens said, sparking fears the changes would deter many from employing apprentices.

“Apprentices have just received a five per cent increase from January 1, while employers now must also pay them for time they spend at work-related training and are not physically working in the business,” he said.

“That is a significant increase in costs for business owners and will certainly make many of them think twice before pursuing that employment avenue in the future.

“There have also been changes made to union right of entry laws, which grant unions representatives entry to lunch rooms and force employers to make arrangements for them to travel to remote work sites.

“These changes affect every business across the state in some way and they cannot afford to keep incurring additional business costs and being tied down with red tape.

“We are seeing some positive signs in the economy and business confidence has been on the up in Queensland, but changes like these dampen that confidence quickly.”

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