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Opposition pledges a ‘better deal’ for Australian workers

  • February 11 2021
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Opposition pledges a ‘better deal’ for Australian workers

By Cameron Micallef
February 11 2021

The Opposition Leader has pledged new reforms to help boost job security as part of its industrial relations plan, which includes entitlements for workers in the gig economy, but the Liberals have branded the proposal a massive hit on businesses. 

Australian workers gig economy

Opposition pledges a ‘better deal’ for Australian workers

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  • February 11 2021
  • Share

The Opposition Leader has pledged new reforms to help boost job security as part of its industrial relations plan, which includes entitlements for workers in the gig economy, but the Liberals have branded the proposal a massive hit on businesses. 

Australian workers gig economy

In a speech made on Wednesday, 10 February, Anthony Albanese made a ‘same job, same pay’ pledge, promising to enable equal pay for a labour hire worker doing the same job as a full-time employee.  

Mr Albanese promised to add “job security” as an objective in the Fair Work Act to give workers greater flexibility every time a pay deal is registered or changed. 

“Labor’s secure Australian jobs plan will give you a better deal, job security, better pay, a fairer system,” Mr Albanese said.

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“Good employers give their workers security and a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. In return, good workers give their employer loyalty, understanding that their jobs are linked to viability of their employer’s business,” he continued. 

According to Mr Albanese, if elected, Labor will “legislate to ensure more Australian workers have access to employee protections and entitlements currently denied to them by the narrow, outdated definition of an ‘employee’”.

“We will do this by extending the powers of the Fair Work Commission to include employee-like forms of work, allowing the commission to make orders for minimum standards in new forms of work.”

This, according to the Opposition Leader, will help gig economy workers who are “being denied basic rights such as award benefits, superannuation, the right to collectively bargain and access to unfair dismissal protections”.

But Ed Mallett, managing director of Employsure, warned that while there are certain aspects of Labor’s plan that would benefit struggling workers, “it won’t do them much good if their employer can’t afford to keep them on as a result of extra costs”. 

“Labor’s so called ‘same job, same pay’ pledge, which would allow a labour hire worker doing the same job as a full-time employee to be paid the same, is one example of this. While this wouldn’t matter as much for larger companies, for the little guy it could be detrimental,” said Mr Mallett. 

“Labour hire, casuals and fixed-contract workers give employers that flexibility to scale up or scale down their operations depending on customer demands. Many businesses have union-negotiated enterprise agreements with staff, something those who come in externally do not have.”

Another part of Labor’s policy is to work with state and territory governments, unions and industries to introduce and develop ‘portable leave entitlements’ for those in insecure work. 

According to Mr Mallett, while this will benefit a wider range of employees, for the businesses that hire them it could see their costs blow out exponentially by having to provide other forms of leave for workers, regardless of their casual or contract status.
 
In contrast, part of the government’s proposed IR bill seeks to provide a legal definition of a casual worker to help employers avoid underpaying staff who aren’t considered permanent workers.

“There has never been a clear, legal definition of casual employment in the Fair Work Act before. What we currently assume to be a casual worker is subjective and lacks any real sense of clarity if brought before a court,” continued Mr Mallett.

The Liberal Party, too, was quick to hit back, with Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter branding Labor’s plan a massive financial hit on business. 

“It’s clear what Anthony Albanese is saying he would do. What is totally unclear is how he will do it and who will pay for it,” the Attorney-General said. 

“Either he is proposing that businesses are hit with a new tax of up to $20 billion after a pandemic and while recovering from the COVID-19 recession or he is proposing to cut the pay of all casual workers by up to 25 per cent. These are the only two options,” Mr Porter concluded.

Opposition pledges a ‘better deal’ for Australian workers
Australian workers gig economy
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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