Thinking | 20 November 2020

Imminent reforms to industrial relations in Australia

By Karl Rozenbergs and Anthony Hallal

Australia’s industrial relations regime is expected to undergo substantial reforms during the coming months.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the Business Council of Australia that a set of industrial relations reforms will be introduced to Parliament before Christmas 2020.

The reforms are intended to strengthen job growth in an economy still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19. 

Scott Morrison warned that ‘there won’t be sweeping praise from the union movement and businesses won’t see their version of an industrial utopia either’. However, it is expected that the changes will be more favourable to businesses on balance.

The reforms are likely to address the following elements of Australia’s industrial relations landscape: 

  • the enterprise agreement system, including the Better Off Overall Test which is expected to become less rigid and more focused on practical substance;
  • modern awards, which are expected to be simplified;
  • casual and fixed-term employees;
  • compliance and enforcement mechanisms; and
  • greenfields agreements impacting projects like mines and infrastructure developments.

Stay tuned – our team of industrial relations experts will keep you informed as the reforms progress through Parliament.

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