Statement on Productivity Commission Workplace Relations Final Report

22 December 2015

“The Productivity Commission’s final workplace relations report has fallen short of addressing what is required in a modern economy to give workplaces the necessary agility to innovate and lift productivity – the keys to job creation and higher wages,” Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“While we are pleased the commission has recognised transfer of business challenges, and that awards have gone beyond a safety net, they haven’t properly addressed the fact there are a range of matters in agreements which go far beyond the workplace relationship,” Ms Westacott said.

“Even if the commission’s final report was fully implemented we would still have a rigid system not suited to the modern world of work.

“The agreement making process is loaded up with too many matters which are not about wages and conditions, restricting the capacity of many businesses to respond to changing circumstances.

“Businesses should not have to work around a complex, rigid, and conflict-driven system.  In our current system enterprise agreements can require negotiation on a range of issues including recruitment and performance management procedures, rostering arrangements, job design, the provision of staffing information and conditions for implementing new technology.

“In our research we found that 48 per cent of awards we looked at had clauses on rostering arrangements that went beyond the safety net and 68 per cent had clauses far above the safety net like how and when higher duties should be paid.

“The government’s announcement it will run a consultative process in 2016 to develop its response to the report is welcome. A comprehensive consultation process will provide an opportunity to identify how to repair the agreement making process, as well as how best to progress the commission’s recommendations around awards.

“The government has the basis of a reform road map with the common sense recommendations on negotiating greenfield agreements, excessive rights of entry, restrictive use of contracts and labour hire, the impact of the Better Off Overall Test, and weak Fair Work Commission governance.

“A workplace relations system should deliver a strong safety net, coupled with a focus on the unique circumstances of the enterprise and the shared interests of managers and workers in its success.

“The Business Council will continue to advocate for significant reform to the legislation, modern awards and the agreement making process, and to help design the system we need for the future.”

For further information contact:
Matt Newton, Communications Adviser
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (02) 8664 9207 • Mobile 0409 550 578



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