Businesses and households will face increased costs and complexity if the State Government pursues its response to the Ministerial Review of the State Industrial Relations System’s Final Report.
The Government’s response further highlights the need for it to refer its residual industrial powers to the Commonwealth, as every other State in the nation has done, to ensure WA businesses and households are not exposed to onerous and burdensome red tape.
WA is the only state or territory to not refer its legislative powers with respect to the private sector to the Commonwealth, forcing businesses to continue to navigate two industrial relations systems.
Typically, businesses remaining within the State industrial relations system are small businesses that are the least resourced and do not have the advantage of being able to employ specialised staff to monitor compliance with their industrial relations obligations.
A single industrial relations system that applies to all employment in all WA private sector workplaces would provide benefits to employers, employees and the entire WA community, including removing duplication and inconsistency, reducing red tape and cost savings.
CCI is particularly alarmed by the potential for union officials being able to access private homes under proposed right of entry amendments. It is completely inappropriate for unions to be able to make any right of entry into a private residence or for it to be possible for the WAIRC to override an individual’s property rights.
While CCI supports the Commonwealth Government’s ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, we are concerned that West Australian houses could now be considered workplaces and be subject to the same strict obligations as businesses.
If the Government proceeds with its plan to change the definition of an employee, it has the potential to capture households who engage the services of domestic workers such as gardeners, household cleaners, babysitters and home carers for a couple of hours a week.
This creates significant uncertainty for households who may be unaware that if this recommendation is implemented their private home could be considered a workplace, requiring them to comply with employment legislation, including workers’ compensation, superannuation and workplace safety.
For West Australians who engage the services of a gardener or a cleaner that aren’t sure of their obligations, it brings into question whether they will need to fork out thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees to ensure they are compliant with the legislative requirements.
CCI supports both the Federal and WA State Government’s efforts to support employees suffering domestic violence. However, we hold concerns that the State Government’s proposed 10 days paid leave is out of step with the national system entitlement of five days’ unpaid leave.
The Fair Work Commission’s Full Bench clearly stated that: “we are of the view that five days’ unpaid leave per annum represents a fair and relevant minimum safety net entitlement”.
CCI urges the State Government to reconsider the recommended changes to the definition of employee and right of entry into private households to ensure it doesn’t unintentionally create undue burden on West Australians engaging domestic workers.