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Industrial Relations Bills

Transition to Forward with Fairness Bill

March 20 2008 - The Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008 was introduced into the Australian Federal Parliament on February 13 by Julia Gillard, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. The Bill was passed on March 19.

The Bill includes transitional arrangements aimed at beginning the process of phasing out the previous Government's Work Choices legislation.

It incorporates some key amendments to the Workplace Relations Act 1996, including:

  • disallowing new Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) from the Bill's commencement
  • allowing employees currently on AWAs (as at 1 December 2007) to make Individual Transitional Employment Agreements (ITEAs) - available for limited use during the period of transition
  • introducing new collective agreements and a no-disadvantage test for ITEAs
  • enabling the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) to undertake the process of award modernisation

The new Bill removes the requirement for employers to provide a copy of the Workplace Relations Fact Sheet to their workers.

Following concerns raised by the Senate inquiry, the Government introduced a number of amendments to the Bill in the Senate. Amendments include:

  • enabling the Workplace Authority director to have regard in certain circumstances to state and territory laws about long service leave as part of the no-disadvantage test
  • enabling an eligible employer to make an individual transitional employment agreement (ITEA) with a previous employee, provided that employee's employment was not terminated in order to re-engage the former employee on the ITEA
  • ensuring that outworker conditions in awards continue to have effect despite any less favourable terms of a workplace agreement
  • enabling preserved State agreements to be extended and varied in limited circumstances
  • clarifying the operation of certain provisions and correcting a number of minor technical oversights.

The Labor Government intends to introduce more substantial workplace relations legislation into Parliament later in 2008 to ensure its new workplace relations system can be fully operational by January 1 2010.

The next round of legislation will incorporate National Employment Standards (NES) on which the Government has asked for comments by April 4 2008. The NES are:

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work
  2. Requests by parents for flexible working arrangements
  3. Parental leave (and related entitlements)
  4. Annual leave
  5. Personal/carer's leave and compassionate leave
  6. Community service leave
  7. Long service leave
  8. Public holidays
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy
  10. Fair Work Information Statement



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