One Nation is calling for new laws to make it easier for employers to sack workers.
Senator Malcolm Roberts included the proposal in his submission to the Senate inquiry into the Coalition’s industrial relations omnibus bill.
One Nation want to make it easier for employers to sack workers
Roberts said the current awards system is “highly confusing difficult to interpret and lacks the flexibility that small businesses need”.
As a result, he argued, the system “does enormous damage to small businesses”.
Roberts claims that businesses pay workers “go away money” because it is not commercially viable to defend an unfair dismissal claim.
And further, he suggests engaging in a conciliation process is not economical “even where an employer believes they had good reason to dismiss an employee”.
“This approach represents a failure for the current IR system.”
Roberts called for the small business dismissal code to be “strengthened”.
The code allows small businesses to sack workers if they have “reasonable grounds” to believe they have engaged in serious misconduct.
The government must “ensure protections for small to medium business from costly court action that they can’t afford”, he said.
Workers’ rights threatened
Australian employment law expert Miles Heffernan believes Roberts’ proposal will leave workers without adequate protections.
“The current system already allows employers to sack workers within 6 months, or 12 months if it is a small business,” he said.
“How much time does an employer need to know if a worker is suitable for the job?
“As for serious misconduct, workers deserve a fair process before an employer terminates their employment.
“And furthermore, they deserve the right to appeal their dismissal to an independent third umpire.”
Mr Heffernan warned the omnibus bill threatens the rights and fair working conditions of Australians.
“The bill weakens protections for workers, and will encourage even more casualisation,” he said.
“The last thing we need coming out of a recession is to cut the wages and entitlements of the workforce.”
Proposed bill concerns Crossbenchers
Independent senator Rex Patrick described Roberts’ submission to a Senate committee he himself can sit on as “very unorthodox”.
He called for the bill to be split up, predicting it will be hard for the government to win support from three of the five crossbenchers.
Jacqui Lambie worries the bill encourages casualisation, in addition to depriving long-term casuals of the entitlements of permanent workers.
Stirling Griff from the Centre Alliance also expressed concerns about the clause that allows employers to use “the excuse of COVID” to change the location and duties of work for two years.
“We don’t see the reason for any form of extension of Jobkeeper flexibilities: there are issues with the recovery in Victoria but not the rest of Australia.”