Australia signs off on workplace relations law

The new legislation is intended to support low-paid employees, particularly women, in negotiating better pay packages and working conditions.
By: | October 21, 2022

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke plans to introduce the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill into the parliament next Thursday, following the government’s first budget recently.

The government’s commitment to ending wages stagnation has been made harder by rapid rises in living costs. Upon finishing some final consultation sessions, the government plans to release all details of the bill within the next week and a half.

A statement released by Burke said the legislation will include some commitments made by the Labour Party made ahead of the May election, as well as some ideas that were raised at the September Jobs and Skills Summit.

For instance, multi-employer bargaining has been viewed as very likely to be included in the legislation. This move has been embraced by unions, who argue it would give low-paid employees greater power by allowing them to negotiate one workplace agreement covering pay and conditions together with those in similar businesses.

READ: Employees in Australia promised up to six months of paid parental leave

A major aim of the bill is to close the gender pay gap and support women in male-dominated professions. In his statement, Burke confirmed the legislation would ban pay secrecy clauses, which prevent companies from restricting employees from discussing their salaries.

He said, “Banning them will improve transparency, reduce the risk of gender pay discrimination and empower women to ask their employers for pay raises.”

The legislation will also establish two new Fair Work Commission panels, one for the Care and Community Sector and one for pay equity, make gender equity a central aim of the Fair Work Act, and establish an Equal Remuneration Principle, reported ABC News.