In a recent speech, Mr Albanese laid out several key elements of its industrial relations policy platform that it will take to the next federal election, which include:
- “Job security” explicitly inserted into the Fair Work Act
- Rights for gig economy workers through the Fair Work Commission
- Portable entitlements for workers in insecure industries
- Casual work properly defined in law
- A crackdown on “cowboy” labour hire firms to guarantee same job, same pay
- A cap on back-to-back short-term contracts for the same role
- More secure public sector jobs by ending inappropriate temporary contracts
- Government contracts to companies and organisations that offer secure work for their employees
“I’m impressed by the flexibility and innovation shown by Australian businesses as they have adjusted to technological change,” Mr Albanese said.
“But the current government has failed to deliver on its responsibility to ensure that workplace laws have evolved at the same pace as changes in patterns of commerce.”
However, business groups such as the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) have criticised Labor’s IR plan, saying it would create fewer jobs and shut businesses down.
ACCI workplace relations director Scott Barklamb said the plan will kill off casual employment and will harm young people, small and family business people, and local communities.
“Wiping out casual work won’t lead to more part- or full-time positions, it will lead to fewer jobs and lower pay,” Mr Barklamb said.
“Secure jobs can only come from secure, economically sustainable enterprises, and they rely on employers and employees having options for how they work.
“Narrowing employers’ options to maintain and create jobs will make it harder for many businesses to survive, let alone grow.”
Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox labelled Labor’s proposal to define casual work as “unfair”, saying it is unworkable in the real world.
“In the real world, employees who are engaged as casuals and paid a casual loading are treated as casual employees for the purposes of the Fair Work Act and awards,” Mr Willox said.
“It is unfair to allow employees engaged and paid as casuals to turn around years later and argue for annual leave, sick leave, redundancy pay etc on the basis that they do not fit some vague definition of a ‘casual employee’, when they have been paid a 25 per cent loading in lieu of the entitlements they are claiming.”