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The Commonwealth Treasurer has instructed the Productivity Commission to  undertake a review of Australia’s employment relations system to identify areas of  potential reform. Really? The Treasurer believes we need an expensive, 11-month-long review to find out where the current laws are letting us down?!

Quite frankly, this is a review we don’t need. The key issues faced by employers  (and employees and unions for that matter) under our current, hopelessly complex  employment relations laws are clear for all to see. Based on our experiences of  assisting employers here at Better HR, some of the most obvious and  urgently-needed reforms include:

The introduction of a dedicated Modern Award for small businesses to make it  easier for these employers to meet their obligations, grow their business, and build  our economy

Significant reform of the Fair Work Commission to remove perceptions of bias, improve client service standards, and maintain public confidence

A major overhaul of the Fair Work Ombudsman so that employers and  employees can finally obtain consistent, timely, and reliable advice that indemnifies  them against future claims

Changes to Modern Awards to ensure consistency, and to allow all employers and  their employees to reach mutual agreement about personal matters such as the  cashing-out of annual leave entitlements

Amendments to the Fair Work Act to make it easier for employers to recover debts owed to them by current or former employees directly from wages or final payments

Overarching changes to our laws to finally recognise that the vast majority of  Australian workers choose not to join a trade union 

This is just a snapshot of what we – and every reasonable employer and employee –  know must be done to ensure fairness, balance, and productivity in our employment  relations system.

No other developed economy in the world has gone so far out of its way to strangle  small business with as much complex, inconsistent, and indecipherable labour  market laws and regulations as we have here in Australia. 

And if you’re still unsure, Better HR recommends you visit the Fair Work Commission’s Modern Awards Review website where you can, for example,  download the full 47 pages of ‘alleged inconsistencies’ identified between the 122  Modern Awards and the National Employment Standards (NES). Still think we need  a Productivity Commission report to tell us what’s wrong with the current system?

Author:  David Bates BA (Govt) LL.B (Hons),  Managing Director,  Better HR

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