Government’s IR reforms not given enough time for fair scrutiny

The country’s largest and most diverse peak body for retail, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has called for more consultation and scrutiny of the Albanese Government’s Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill to ensure it succeeds in achieving its objectives for employees and employers and builds on the goodwill established between employer groups and unions during the recent Jobs and Skills Summit.

 ARA CEO Paul Zahra said some aspects of the government’s reforms will benefit employers and employees alike, but more time is needed to understand the proposed changes and their impacts on business.

 “Coming out of the Jobs and Skills Summit less than two months ago, there was a real sense of common purpose and goodwill about the path forward. We obviously expected some changes to industrial relations policy as a result of the change in government and the summit, but the scope of reform outlined in the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill is much more extensive than we’d expected,” Mr Zahra said.

 “While we support changes announced about the Better-Off Overall Test and gender-based pay equity, the reforms that extend access to multi-employer bargaining are a real concern for our members.

 “For our smaller members, many of whom are still recovering from two years of disruption, they don’t have the resources to work through a costly and time-consuming bargaining process with other employers and multiple employee representatives.

 “And we don’t believe that the prospect of bringing our larger members, and some of the country’s largest employers, all to the same bargaining table is fit-for-purpose or workable in the real world,” Mr Zahra said.

 The Bill was tabled in the House of Representatives earlier today and deferred to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee, with a report due by 17 November 2022.

 “We are extremely disappointed that the government has set aside less than three weeks to consult with business on some of the most significant changes to industrial relations in a decade,” Mr Zahra said.

 “We are supportive of the need to drive sustainable wages growth and create more secure jobs. Some aspects of the Bill help deliver on these goals, but other reforms outlined for the first time today will have a significant impact right across the retail community, without delivering benefits for employees.”


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About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $400 billion sector that employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 120,000 retail shop fronts and online stores, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies our independent, national and international retail community. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive member benefits and more, visit



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