Help! Help! The Sky is Falling Down!
The long-awaited release of the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission’s upcoming review of Australia’s (hopelessly complex) employment laws has triggered an unsurprising reaction from the ‘usual suspects’.
According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) it’s the end of life as we know it (I am embellishing, but they’re clearly not happy). And amongst those who have never run a business or employed anyone in their life, the opening of a legitimate debate about the relevancy of penalty rates and Modern Awards is nothing other than a return to the WorkChoices era.
For anyone who actually understands what’s at stake – and for every small business owner in the land – any review of Modern Awards and the (literally) hundreds of pages of laws and regulations which strange small business, stifle productivity, and lower employment – the Productivity Commission’s review can’t come soon enough.
All of that said, the truth is we don’t need an expensive, eleven month long review to tell us what we already know:
– No other developed nation on earth has employment laws as inflexible, confusing, and inaccessible as Australia
– A small minority of Australians belong to unions, and it’s about time the laws changed to reflect this reality by removing the central role inappropriately held by unions
– Flexibility is key in the modern workplace, and the legitimate preferences of employees should not be overruled by laws made in Canberra
– The Fair Work system is broken and simply not fit for purpose
Reviewing penalty rates, Awards, and the role of unions will not cause a mass extinction event. It will not end our way of life. It won’t even cause the sky to fall down (attention: Ged Kearney).
Instead it may just prevent more businesses closing, more jobs going offshore, and more employers deciding it’s easier to unscramble an egg than understand most Modern Awards.
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