The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations has today introduced the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008 into the Australian Parliament.
The Bill gives effect to key Rudd Government election commitments, as set out inForward with FairnessandForward with Fairness Policy Implementation Plan.
The Bill begins the process of phasing out the previous Howard/Costello government’s extreme and unfair Work Choices laws in favour of a fairer, more productive and flexible workplace relations system.
It has been developed following extensive consultation with employer organisations, unions and State and Territory Ministers.
On proclamation of the Bill, there will be no new Australian Workplace Agreements.
The Transition to Forward with Fairness Bill introduces key amendments to theWorkplace Relations Act 1996.These amendments include:
- preventing the making of anynewAustralian Workplace Agreements (AWAs);
- allowing employers using AWAs as at 1 December 2007 to offer Individual Transitional Employment Agreements (ITEAs) to new employees and employees already on AWAs for the transition period while award modernisation takes place;
- introducing a genuine no-disadvantage test for new collective agreements and ITEAs;
- enabling the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) to undertake the process of award modernisation; and
- removing the requirement for employers to provide the Workplace Relations Fact Sheet to their employees.
Following the nominal expiry date of an AWA, it may be terminated unilaterally by either the employer or employee on 90 days’ notice. The employee would then be entitled to the benefit of an applicable collective agreement or award in the workplace.
As requested by employer and employee representatives, the Bill will allow parties to retain pre-Work Choices certified agreements and to extend or vary those agreements in limited circumstances to avoid an unnecessary transition into Work Choices laws prior to the commencement of the Government’s new workplace relations system.
The Government will introduce its substantive workplace relations reforms into Parliament later this year after extensive consultation, to ensure that the Rudd Government's new workplace relations system will be fully operational by 1 January 2010.