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Fair Work

How the Greens secured fairer workplace laws

The Australian Greens consistently and vigorously opposed Work Choices and we were pleased to have played our part in ensuring the passage of the Fair Work legislation.

The Greens secured important improvements to the Fair Work Bill, including:

  • Expanding the right to request flexible working hours to parents and carers of children with a disability under the age of 18;
  • The removal of the contentious objection provisions in relation to right of entry;
  • Expanding the matters to be reviewed by Fair Work Australia to include the use of individual flexibility arrangements and the right to request flexible work arrangements;
  • An interim review of modern awards after two years instead of four to examine whether modern awards are meeting the modern awards objectives and are operating effectively.

The Greens also insisted the definition of small business not be increased above 15 and received a commitment that employers will have the onus of proving they complied with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.  We also negotiated to increase the time period for lodgement of unfair dismissal claims.

As well as the above outcomes, the Greens moved a series of amendments that were not supported by the Government addressing a number of serious concerns raised in the course of the public debate over the Bill. These amendments included:

  • Allowing employees to terminate unfair AWAs;
  • Expanding the dispute resolution powers of Fair Work Australia;
  • Removing the restrictions on the content of enterprise agreements;
  • Providing a review process for the right to request flexible work arrangements and the request for an extension of unpaid parental leave;
  • Removing the Work Choices barriers to workers taking lawful industrial action;
  • Seeking the Bill be compliant with Australia's international labour obligations; and
  • Linking excessive salaries to the ability of employers to make employees redundant.

Along with many in our community we remain concerned with the consequences of the award modernisation process for some employees and will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the Fair Work legislation. 

We are committed to working to improve the Fair Work Act in next parliament.

Read Rachel Siewert's Second Reading Speech.
Follow the debate on the Australian Greens amendments in Hansard.
Read the Deputy Prime Minister's letter on the outcome negotiated by the Greens.

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