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Australian Small Businesses Concerned Over Industrial Relations Changes

Updated: Jun 8, 2023



COSBOA has submitted the following submissions:


1. Employee like

COSBOA, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, has raised concerns over potential legislation changes related to independent contractors and "employee-like" forms of work. The group is urging the government to ensure a clear understanding of the problems being addressed, and the impacts on small businesses, and to reduce red tape and compliance burdens.


COSBOA also stresses the need for a better understanding of the productive, efficient, and mutually beneficial relationships that typically exist in small businesses between employers and workers. They caution against any changes that could disrupt these relationships and potentially lead to dysfunctional workplaces.


The organisation is apprehensive that broad language in proposed changes could force unproductive changes to how business is conducted, specifically calling out concerns around platform workers and various forms of temporary or contractual labor.


The group does express support for fair employment practices and minimum standards but urges that any reforms be specifically described and targeted to prevent undue burdens on small businesses.


COSBOA insists that the problem to be addressed needs to be adequately articulated and that a targeted solution should be identified. They request further consultation and co-design on the policy, suggesting a roundtable of relevant employer and employee representatives to meet with the Government. They warn against progressing with legislative reform without further collaborative consultation.


For full submission see here:


COSBOA employee like 230519b
.pdf
Download PDF • 240KB


2. COSBOA against discrimination

COSBOA, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, has raised concerns about proposed changes intended to provide stronger protections for workers against discrimination. They urge the government to ensure clarity on the problem being addressed, and its potential impacts on small businesses, and to strive to reduce the compliance burden on these entities.


COSBOA underscores the importance of maintaining productive and beneficial relationships between employers and workers within small businesses, highlighting concerns that proposed changes could create dysfunction and disputes that were previously non-existent.

They emphasize that small businesses often lack resources to handle complex legal matters and express apprehension that proposed changes could lead to unnecessary costs and an increase in "go-away" payments to employees as a simpler, potentially less costly resolution method.


COSBOA does not support adding the Fair Work regime as further regulation in discrimination matters, citing four existing regimes already handling this issue. They express concern that the proposed changes could create multiple avenues for disgruntled employees to take action against employers, adding further burden on small businesses.

While supporting fair, amicable, and non-discriminatory workplaces, COSBOA calls for a more streamlined and known approach for employers and employees. They note that the identified problem or gap has not been adequately articulated in consultations so far.


COSBOA advocates for further consultation and co-design on the policy, suggesting a roundtable discussion between relevant employer and employee representatives and the government. They urge the government to avoid advancing legislative reforms without further collaborative consultations.


For full submission see here:



COSBOA against discrimination 230519b
.pdf
Download PDF • 234KB


3. Wage theft

COSBOA, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, has expressed concerns regarding the proposed legislative changes pertaining to wage theft. They call on the government to clearly understand the problem, consider the potential impacts on small businesses, and reduce the associated compliance burdens.


COSBOA recognizes the need for a level playing field among employers and does not support deliberate, intentional, and systemic underpayments. However, they argue that most underpayments are due to mistakes or misunderstandings of complex requirements, rather than deliberate theft. They call for simplification of the Award system to facilitate compliance.


The council approves the approach of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) which involves education, direction to correct underpayments, and corrective measures for the future, while only proceeding to prosecute and penalize repeat or deliberate offenders.

COSBOA proposes a multi-step approach for dealing with wage theft: Simplification, Education, Investigation, Correction, Checking, and Compliance action against uncorrected or deliberate underpayments.


They raise concerns that the proposal could result in multiple criminal and civil actions against an employer and may lead to frivolous or unjust actions due to the complexity of the proposed system. COSBOA also warns of the potentially prohibitive costs of defending actions, which could lead to business closure or "go-away" payments to mitigate costs.

COSBOA advocates for further consultation and co-design on the policy, suggesting a roundtable discussion involving employer and employee representatives. They urge the government to avoid advancing legislative reforms without further collaborative consultations.


For full submission see here:



COSBOA Wage theft 230516b
.pdf
Download PDF • 237KB


4. Same job, same pay

COSBOA, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, is voicing concerns about the "Same Job, Same Pay" concept as proposed in the recent legislative changes. They are calling for a clearer understanding of the problem, with special attention given to the potential impact on small businesses, and a reduction of compliance burdens.


While recognizing the importance of rewarding employees fairly and equitably, COSBOA is concerned that the proposed changes may create dysfunctional workplaces and strain relationships between employers and employees. Small businesses are reportedly apprehensive about this concept, leading to a reluctance to employ and therefore constraints on business growth.


COSBOA highlights the principle of rewarding workers for loyalty, competence, expertise, experience, and productivity. They also note that not all job roles are identical, suggesting that differences in performance should be recognized and rewarded accordingly. They express concerns about the broad language being used in the legislation, warning that it may capture a wide range of business circumstances.


The council also points out that the rapidly evolving environments of small businesses encourage innovation and productivity, citing the example of a "Rent a chair" arrangement in hairdressing salons. Such an arrangement allows salon facilities to be rented to third parties who provide their services from the same premises, an arrangement that is beneficial to all parties involved. COSBOA stresses that there are many scenarios where a business may pay different rates due to circumstances such as the temporary nature of the work or a difference in experience.


Finally, COSBOA calls for further consultation and co-design on the policy and any subsequent reform. They suggest a roundtable discussion with appropriate employer and employee representatives, urging the government to refrain from advancing legislative reforms without further collaborative consultations.


For full submission see here:



COSBOA Same Job Same Pay 230516b
.pdf
Download PDF • 239KB

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