Federal minister eyes workplace law reform
Unfair dismissal laws could be overhauled as the Morrison government sharpens its focus on Australia's workplace rules.
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter plans to stage a six to nine month review into the laws, together with the definition of casual employment, a hot-button issue dividing bosses and unions.
He said the industrial umpire received as many as 15,000 unfair dismissal cases a year, vastly outnumbering bullying or harassment claims.
"Clearly there is a problem there. It is a problem that has a significant multiplier effect right throughout the business community," Mr Porter told 6PR Radio on Thursday.
He nominated three criteria for justifying changes to the industrial relations framework - creating upward pressure on wages, strengthening the economy and driving jobs growth.
"If there is an evidence base for changes that meet those three criteria, that is the ultimate task," the minister said.
The review will also look at enterprise agreement approvals, long-term workplace deals on major projects and a new federal building code.
Redefining casual employment could also stem from the review, with Mr Porter keen to iron out confusion and frustration around the issue.
His predecessor Kelly O'Dwyer introduced a regulation to stop "double dipping" on entitlements and casual loadings after a controversial Federal Court decision angered major employer groups.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus criticised the review, accusing the government of becoming a puppet for the business lobby's attempts to reduce wages and erode conditions.
"After refusing to even mention industrial relations during the campaign, the Morrison government is now running as fast as it can to satisfy the business lobby," she said.
"Mr Porter says this review will benefit workers and employers but the only proposals he has any interest in would gut workers' rights and entrench exploitation."
She said there was no plan to address low wage growth, arguing millions of people were in insecure jobs with low wage growth, insufficient hours and minimal rights.
"Rather than protecting workers this government is setting out to ensure that the power of big business is protected by law," Ms McManus said.
The government will also reintroduce laws making it easier to deregister unions and ban officials within weeks.
The coalition also wants to impose tighter controls on worker entitlement funds, which could cost unions tens of millions of dollars a year.
© AAP 2019