The National Retail Association (NRA) welcomes the reappointment of Senator Michaelia Cash as the Minister for Employment in the re-elected Turnbull Government. We view this as a very clear signal that the Government intends to pursue the industrial relations agenda for which it received a mandate at the election. We’ve mentioned previously the importance of reforms in the building industry, and how the additional costs of construction flow through to leasing and tenancies. And while the Government is not directly involved in the issue of weekend penalty rates which is currently before Fair Work Australia, we believe they are at least understanding of the need for changes in this area.
One of the areas that is likely to impact most heavily on retailers is the Turnbull Government’s policy program for stamping out what it terms “exploitation by unscrupulous employers”. The NRA objects to this negative categorisation of the business owners who create the “jobs and growth” that the Government is so keen to talk about. We recognise that there is a very small proportion of employers who do not do the right thing – either deliberately or simply because the obligations of the industrial relations system are so complex. And we’d prefer that the Government also recognised that this is a small minority, and that the vast majority of employers work very hard to comply with those complex requirements.
The policy for protecting vulnerable workers includes:
- Higher penalties for employers who underpay workers and who fail to keep proper employment records;
- New offence provisions that capture franchisors and parent companies who fail to deal with exploitation by their franchisees;
- Increasing the power and resources of the Fair Work Ombudsman; and
- A new Migrant Workers Taskforce within the Fair Work Ombudsman’s office.
In principle the NRA has no objection to the proposals. We will, however, be working closely with the Government to ensure that employers get the same “fair go” from the Ombudsman and the new task force that they are demanding for employees.
In order to help members deal with this new policy environment, the NRA is today relaunching our highly-effective Roster Coster product. This is a free online tool and mobile app that helps you to understand and comply with your obligations to your staff, while also devising the most cost-effective rostering arrangements to meet the needs of your business. We’re very pleased to be working with Victoria-based software developer Rision Ltd to provide this service for the retail industry. Click here to read more about Roster Coster and register your business.
Dominique Lamb, CEO