The Housing Industry Association has welcomed the introduction of the Government’s Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014.

According to HIA’s industrial relations spokesman, David Humphrey, the burdens and higher costs imposed by the Fair Work Act 2009 have left small businesses in the housing industry struggling for the past five years.

While several matters still require redress, the 2014 amendment bill introduced by the Government is an important first step in fixing the legislation to restore balance to Australia’s industrial relations framework and increase productivity in the economy. 

HIA notes that many of the changes simply give effect to recommendations from the previous Government’s Fair Work Review Panel and reverse laws passed during the previous Parliament that were introduced without any consultation with the housing sector. 

HIA particularly welcomes the changes to annual leave provisions, Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFAs) and union rights of entry.

Mr Humphrey explains that the changes to the annual leave provisions improve certainty for small businesses as the current provisions are unclear about the rights to annual leave while on workers’ compensation. 

The changes to the IFA provisions importantly clarify that non-monetary benefits are to be taken into account when considering if the employee is ‘better off overall’. While employers will now have to provide an additional statement to ensure that the agreement reflects the ‘genuine needs’ of the employee, this is an important safety net for both parties. 

Pointing out how the housing industry has also been concerned about the tactics used to force non-unionised workplaces to engage with unions and sign up to pattern bargaining enterprise agreements, Mr Humphrey said that HIA supports the provisions in the Bill that will no longer enable unions to conduct recruiting missions for prospective members at non-unionised workplaces unless first invited. 

Mr Humphrey concluded that these laws must now be swiftly passed to give certainty to small business.