The Coalition has managed to form a majority government in a fiercely contested election last Saturday.
While Labor had spent much of its election campaign outlining a near-overhaul to the industrial relations landscape, the Morrison Government’s IR platform was more aligned with the status quo.
Here is everything we know about the LNP’s plans to change the Fair Work Act.
The right for casual employees to convert to full-time or part-time employment has existed under most modern awards since October last year. The Fair Work Amendment (Right to Request Casual Conversion) Bill 2019 would have seen a similar entitlement under the NES for all casual employees regardless of whether they were covered by a modern award. While the Bill lapsed at dissolution, it is likely that it will now be revived for further consideration.
Following the decision of the Federal Court in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene  FCAFC 131, the Morrison Government amended the Fair Work Regulations to allow employers to offset casual loading in circumstances where a casual employee was later found to be in fact part-time or full-time. The changes prevented the “double-dipping” of entitlements in these circumstances.
The Coalition has not otherwise announced any significant changes to the treatment of casual employees.
Minimum rates of pay and penalty rates
Bill Shorten had declared that this election was a “referendum on wages.”
The Coalition has however, announced no plans to wind-back the reduction to Sunday penalty rates in 2017, or otherwise interfere with the Fair Work Commission’s ability to set penalty rates and the National Minimum Wage.
With the Fair Work Commission expected to hand down its decision in the 2018-2019 Annual Wage Review within the coming weeks, this is good news for the independent workplace relations umpire.
Increased penalties for contraventions of modern awards
Following a report issued by the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce earlier this year, the Morrison Government allocated additional funding to the Fair Work Ombudsman to take enforcement action against employers who exploit vulnerable workers.
The Coalition had also previously indicated support of the Taskforce’s recommendation to introduce tougher penalties (including criminal sanctions) for employers who deliberately and systematically underpay workers. To date, no legislation has been announced to give effect to these recommendations.
Industrial relations portfolio
With the resignation of former MP Kelly O’Dwyer, the industrial relations portfolio has been left without any obvious replacement. The portfolio was previously held by Michaelia Cash MP and later former MP Craig Laundy. The portfolio is responsible for the Government’s IR policy agenda and recommending appointments to the Fair Work Commission.
It is currently unclear who will take over the portfolio, however the Prime Minister has a number of new faces to choose from.
The NRA will provide updates to its members as further details become available. For more information, contact the workplace relations hotline on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).