Australian employer groups call for flexibility in workplace laws

Major employer groups have called for revived powers to reduce workers’ hours, stand staff down and direct people to take annual leave.
By: | July 23, 2021

A powerful alliance of employer groups is calling for workplace laws to be temporarily made more flexible as more than half of Australia’s population are in lockdown. 

The flexibility would allow workers to be directed to work from home or different locations, as well as perform different duties. 

Employer groups in this alliance include the Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Master Builders, the Australia Restaurant and Catering Industry Association, the Australian Retailers Association, National Retail Association and Australian Business Industrial. 

In a joint statement, the employer groups said existing staffing levels could be more easily maintained with the measures for flexibility. 

“We need these flexibilities urgently reinstated alongside government financial support in order to ensure businesses have the necessary tools available to keep as many employees in jobs as possible.” 

Similar flexible workplace laws were implemented during the height of national restrictions last year. Then, unions helped to ensure employees were not exploited during the temporary change with appropriate safeguards. 

READ: Australia’s unemployment rate falls to 4.9% in June

The measures were introduced together with the JobKeeper wage subsidies aimed to keep millions of workers in employment with their companies. 

This year, the federal government has resisted calls for JobKeeper to be reinstated as it maintains a preference for disaster payments of up to A$600 (US$440) a week for workers affected by lockdowns, according to The West Australian.