Comments Comments

The Albanese government has passed its third set of new workplace legislation in the past 14 months, with print businesses set to be impacted by many of the changes.

Third set of workplace reforms in 14 months: Anthony Albanese
Third set of workplace reforms in 14 months: Anthony Albanese

Employers and business groups, including the VMA, are opposed to many of the changes, which they say will hinder business, and add complexity and workload to their operations.

Included in the new laws which will potentially impact print businesses, and which are set to come into effect on 1 July, are further strengthening of the multi-employer bargaining that came into effect last year, immediate access to the workplace for unions, the right to disconnect after hours for staff, easier conversion from casual to permanent, and a change to intractable bargaining in favour of employees.

Under the right to disconnect, which will come into force on 1 January next year for small businesses, employees have the right to ignore calls, emails and texts from print bosses, without fear of consequences. It also extends to the right to ignore communications from third parties such as customers, suppliers, couriers.

Bosses can though include clauses in the contracts of senior staff to require them to be available outside of office hours.

Employees will have the path to permanent employment made easier after 1 July. However it will mainly impact casuals who are allocated fixed shifts for up to 12 months in advance, like in the mining industry, rather than in printing where there are genuine peaks and troughs and employers often don’t know when casual staff will be required. Nonetheless, if casuals do settle into regular shifts they will be able to move to permanent within six months, or 12 months in the case of small business, which is most of the printing industry.

The change to intractable bargaining, where Fair Work gets involved in a dispute, will mean that the Commission would not be able to arbitrate in a way that leaves employees worse off, which sounds good in theory but the issue is that it is for every clause in the contract, rather than in overall terms. Experts say this would undermine bargaining give and take.

Another change is immediate access, or right of entry, to union staff. Currently unions have to wait 24 hours to investigate potential breaches of the Fair Work Act. From 1 July if the union suspects either document shredding or underpayment of a union member they will gain immediate access.

comments powered by Disqus