Labor’s ‘same job, same pay’ bill contains ‘major flaw’, leading expert says

Labor’s industrial relations legislation contains a “major flaw” that will apply its “same job, same pay” policy to service contracts, potentially including IT, lawyers and accountants, one of Australia’s foremost academic experts has said.
Prof Andrew Stewart made the comments at the Minerals Council’s conference on Wednesday, siding with employers who have raised similar warnings that a major plank of the Albanese government’s closing loopholes legislation could force up costs beyond its intended application of labour hire.
Stewart also warned about the “potential for disruption” from Labor’s proposal to expand union delegates’ rights to communicate with non-members.
That prompted concern from Jacqui Lambie, likely to be a key crossbencher in Senate negotiations to pass the bill, who noted “we don’t know what rights delegates at that level will have”.
On Wednesday the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, ramped up the Coalition’s attack, warning it is “disingenuous” of Labor to say the bill closes loopholes and arguing it will “undoubtedly damage” the Australian economy.
During months of consultation, the workplace relations minister, Tony Burke, has sought to allay employers’ concern about same job, same pay reform by claiming it applies only to paying labour hire workers the same as employees already on workplace pay deals.
But Stewart said the bill, introduced to parliament on Monday, “doesn’t even use the term labour hire”.
The bill allows workers or unions to apply to the Fair Work Commission for orders that they should receive the same pay if they are in an arrangement to “supply employees to work for a host organisation”.
“Now, the government says that’s not meant to cover … specialist contracting services.
“It’s not what the legislation says. In fact the legislation, as I read it, says the exact opposite. It says specialist contracting services are covered but the commission will have the discretion to not make an order to cover them.”
“I think something’s gone wrong with the drafting.”
Stewart said that a law firm, accounting firm, or IT company providing services is “potentially covered” as the bill currently stands, but he would recommend an amendment to correct the “major flaw” during a Senate inquiry.
Stewart noted the legislation gives workplace delegates, employees of a company who are not union officials but are designated representatives by union rules, rights to represent people “eligible” but not currently union members.
“The rights are to represent members or potential members, including in disputes with the employer,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *