At the midpoint of the federal election campaign, we thought it timely to provide a brief overview of the major party positions on workplace relations. The central theme is “evolution” rather than “revolution”.


Australian Labor Party
Labor’s policy is essentially the existing Fair Work Act, the main features being:

  1. A single national workplace relations system for private sector employers;
  2. A safety net of a minimum wage and industry/occupational awards;
  3. A broad based statutory unfair dismissal claim system;
  4. Collective rather than individual enterprise bargaining;
  5. A paid parental leave scheme based on 18 weeks at the minimum wage.



In addition, the first true legal avenue for workers to stop workplace bullying by making application to the Fair Work Commission is due to commence on 1 January 2014. Otherwise, no major changes to the existing system have been announced to date.


Liberal National Coalition
The Coalition has said it will not be making major changes to the IR system, at least in its first term. However, it will tinker with the current system and intends to instruct the Productivity Commission to review the Fair Work Act but it will not make any major changes without seeking a further mandate from the people. Current proposals are:

  1. The centrepiece of the Coalition’s policy is its paid parental leave scheme, due to start in mid 2015. This will give mothers 26 weeks of paid parental leave at their full replacement wage (capped at $150,000pa) plus super. Payments will be administered directly by the Family Assistance Office to cut red tape. However, it appears that this entitlement will be set off against any employer paid parental leave scheme so there will be no double dipping;
  2. Labor’s workplace bullying changes will be retained but with a requirement that workers first seek help and impartial advice from an independent agency;
  3. The Australian Building and Construction Commission will be re established to address workplace militancy and productivity in the construction industry;
  4. Union regulation will be brought into line with corporate accountability;
  5. The Fair Work Ombudsman will provide targeted and clear help to small business to improve their understanding of the Fair Work laws including a dedicated help line and a small business wages “app”;
  6. Underpaid workers will be entitled to interest where the Fair Work Ombudsman recovers payments and interest from employers; and
  7. The scheduled increases in compulsory superannuation will be delayed by 2 years.


The others
The Greens have a detailed IR policy which includes expansion of the unfair dismissal laws, a minimum of 5 weeks annual leave for all employees and the introduction of national industrial manslaughter laws. We have been unable to find detailed policies from Katters Australian Party and the Palmer United Party to date.


Rio Tinto Cancer ride update

Thanks again for supporting me in the Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer. The ride was held over last weekend (17/18 August) here in Brisbane with 110 kilometres on Saturday from the University of Queensland at St Lucia to Wivenhoe Dam and the same again in reverse on Sunday. The MJSP Consulting team of which I was part raised almost $10,000. Over 1,500 cyclists were involved in the ride and the total funds raised for the Qld Institute of Medical Research from the ride was in excess of $4.2 million. Quite an inspiration and I really appreciated your support in making this possible.