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The Senate has passed just one section of the Australian Government’s hotly-anticipated Industrial Relations bill after failing to win support from key crossbenchers.

The reforms announced by the Attorney General Christian Porter last year aimed to overhaul IR legislation as businesses looked to recover from the pandemic. But the proposals were met with uproar from Labor and the unions who said they risked eroding workers’ rights.

Only the section relating to the definition of casual workers has been passed today, following last year’s Workpac vs Rossato ruling which opened businesses up to the prospect of owing millions in backpay.


Legal Definition of Casual Worker

The legislation change will create a legal definition of a casual worker for the first time, quashing so-called “double dipping” claims for backpay created by the Workpac ruling. It will also give casual workers the right to request a conversion to a permanent contract after a certain amount of time.


Penalties for Underpayment of Wages

The other sections of the bill, including relaxing the rules around enterprise agreements, were dropped after failing to win support from the crossbench this week. Also removed was the schedule on strengthening the penalties for underpayments, despite widespread enthusiasm from crossbenchers.

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