The botched introduction of the ‘right to disconnect’ amendment that exposes employers to criminal penalties has made bad legislation even worse.

“This amendment was rushed through the Parliament with unseemly haste, without the scrutiny the rest of the bill has undergone over months,” ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar said.

“While the error in the bill was apparently inadvertent, the result is a complete mess which adds to the grave misgivings business has about this legislation.

“This regressive union-dictated legislation will do nothing to grow productivity or create jobs and has ended up with the spectre of employers facing criminal charges for calling an employee.

“While a further amendment will correct this, it simply is not good enough. It has exposed the dangers of adhering to a radical agenda without careful scrutiny.”

The legislation more broadly will present immense practical issues for businesses that employ millions of Australians.

“Employers are very concerned about the impact of these sweeping changes. They will add to the cost of doing business and create more red tape,” ACCI chief executive officer Andrew McKellar said.

“Negotiations this week have slightly improved some aspects of the legislation. But, as a whole, these changes will be a deadweight on productivity and jobs growth. This is bad legislation and it is an enormous step backwards for the modern workforce.

“At a time when the cost of living and cost of doing business is becoming more difficult to manage, small businesses should not need to seek costly legal advice just to employ casuals or engage independent contractors.

“The rate of change across two years is causing significant fatigue and this this union-inspired legalism will only add to the administrative burden of business owners.”

ACCI acknowledges the efforts of the crossbench, particularly Senators David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie, to achieve some improvements to this productivity-wrecking legislation.

“The crossbench has worked constructively to ensure that some of our concerns could be ameliorated,” Mr McKellar said.

Improvements ACCI has advocated successfully for include:

  • A clearer definition of casual employment that will provide more certainty to employers.
  • Providing businesses with the ability to provide ‘fair and reasonable grounds’ to decline a casual employee’s request to convert to permanent employment.
  • Repealing the existing requirement on businesses to offer conversion and providing a single legislated pathway for casuals to convert to permanent employment; reducing the administrative burden on employers.
  • Narrowing of the definition of ‘employee-like’, ensuring that tradespersons and independent small businesses are less likely to be captured by a minimum standards order.
Ashley Gardiner

Director - Media and Communications

P: 0262708020

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