(Australian Associated Press)
Retailers want greater flexibility to offer part-time staff extra hours at short notice without incurring overtime payments as the Morrison government reviews workplace laws.
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter is looking at a range of potential changes, including unfair dismissal rules and casual employment definition.
Australian Retailers’ Association boss Russell Zimmerman said employment inflexibility was a key reform area the government should tackle.
“If you’re employing somebody on a part-time basis, if you want to increase their hours you’ve got to give them one week’s notice in writing,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“That is just not feasible in today’s retail landscape.”
He wants laws changed so bosses can “flex up” employees, a system which would allow part-time workers to be given the option of working more hours without being paid overtime.
Under the proposal, employers would not be able to reduce workers’ shifts and employees would remain free to turn down hours above their part-time requirements.
“It’s impossible in a retail business today to determine what your takings are going to be tomorrow let alone in a week’s time,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“The laws are antiquated, they need changing and we need more flexibility.”
He said the changes could drive revenue and employment higher.
Overhauling rules for part-time retail workers is the latest suggestion from an employer group after big business outlined its industrial relations agenda earlier in the week.
The Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox and the Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) CEO Steve Knott believe reforming the system could help the economy.
They want bosses who terminate employees with a valid reason to have confidence their decision won’t be overturned by the Fair Work Commission.
Workplace law should be amended to define casual employee as “one engaged and paid as such” to address a controversial Federal Court ruling.
Ai Group and AMMA also want the better off overall test in enterprise agreements applied to logical groups of employees, rather than every single worker.
The demands will be canvassed in Mr Porter’s review of workplace laws – expected to take between six and nine months – which unions have criticised as being driven by the business lobby.