WA ‘biggest loser’ of proposed workplace laws

WA mining industryCCIWA is firmly opposing the Government’s workplace relations reforms, championing the concerns of our Members who fear additional red tape and stronger union rights.  

“Just about every element of the Government’s IR agenda strikes at the heart of WA’s economy,” says Chris Rodwell, CCIWA CEO. 

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 to Parliament on 4 September. Originally slated to be passed before the end of this year, the Bill is now not expected to be passed before February next year.

The Federal Government has faced vigorous backlash from the business community. 

Under the legislation: 

  • Under ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ measures, the Government will make it harder for businesses to use labour hire.   
  • The Bill allows the Government to expand the scope of the labour hire laws without parliamentary approval, meaning more businesses could be captured with just the stroke of a pen. 
  • Under its ‘employee-like’ reforms, the Government will more closely regulate independent contractors using a digital platform that also satisfy some other conditions. This could capture tradies using online platforms.  
  • The Government will again change the definition of casual employment, opening up more uncertainty and greater risk of misclassification of employees while also including strict anti-avoidance provisions and penalties.  
  • The Government will grant the Fair Work Commission broad powers to set pay rates and conditions in the road transport sector, potentially pushing up costs for all WA businesses. 
  • The Bill reinstates the complex “multi-factorial” test for determining whether an individual is an employee or a contractor, reversing recent High Court decisions that gave certainty to businesses and independent contractors.

Rodwell says WA is the “biggest loser” from the Government’s reforms. 

“This unnecessary overhaul could not come at a worse time for WA, as the State looks to attract investment and capitalise on a once-in-a-generation opportunity presented by the energy transition,” he says. 

“The mining sector relies heavily on labour hire for legitimate reasons, including swings in commodity cycles.” 

Andrew McKellar, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), says he welcomes the Government’s decision to limit wage theft laws to deliberate and intentional conduct only. The introduction of a ‘safe harbour regime’ is also welcome, giving employers confidence to self-report underpayments.  

“The Minister needs to accept that the increased complexity that he is lumping on employers is contributing to wage underpayments,” he says. 

“If the Minister is serious about addressing underpayments, he should start by simplifying the awards system.   

“The critical point is that the underlying cause of underpayments in Australia is governments causing hideous complexity in our industrial relations system.” 

Are you concerned about the Federal Government’s IR reforms? Get in touch with our workplace experts today by calling our Employee Relations Advice Centre on 9365 7660 or CCIWA Members can book a free consultation with one of our employment lawyers by emailing [email protected]   

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