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Small Businesses slam rushed industrial relations bill

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ACCI, representing business operators nationwide, urges the Senate to reconsider the ramifications of the rushed and flawed industrial relations legislation.

The national, state, and territory business chambers stand united in support of our small and family enterprise business community, already grappling with significant cost escalations.

There is grave concern that the proposed legislation will detrimentally impact all business owners, particularly those in growth stages, and adversely affect the very employees it aims to protect, along with the communities reliant on local business resilience.

“Our members, spanning regions, towns, cities, and sectors, predominantly consist of small businesses, whose contributions are immense. Imposing additional constraints and costs on them will either burden the community or result in job losses, or both, ACCI said in a statement. “Already beleaguered by bureaucratic constraints, small business owners face further entanglement in red tape with this legislation. A one-size-fits-all approach to the casual labor market, amid a shortage of essential skills, couldn’t come at a worse time. It will negatively impact workers valuing flexibility, precisely when flexibility and skill-sharing are burgeoning economic lifelines.

“We urge the Senate to view this legislation through the lens of mainstream Australia, where family enterprises and small businesses form the economy and community’s lifeblood. We cannot allow industrial relations laws to make it harder for hard-working business owners to generate the wealth we enjoy as a nation. We cannot allow industrial relations laws to make it harder for small business owners to grow, create valuable jobs and invest in skills. This bill will bring many unintended consequences and should not be supported in its present form.”

Particularly concerning are amendments proposed by the Greens, lacking scrutiny or consultation, not raised during the Senate committee hearings nationwide last year.

Specific concerns about the legislation include:

Employee-like forms of work, with a broad definition capturing many independent contracting arrangements.

Casual employment uncertainty, deterring employers from hiring casuals and hampering job creation and flexibility.

Expanded powers for union officials to enter workplaces without notice, despite only 8% of private sector employees being union members.

Implications for road transport akin to the disastrous Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal for owner-drivers.

Intractable bargaining incentivizing unions to prolong disputes, disadvantaging employers.

The “right to disconnect,” redundant given existing legal protections against unreasonable additional work hours outside designated times.

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