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Workplace proposals will increase workforce participation

22 November, 2007

Proposals to provide access to grandparents leave, options to extend annual leave and entitlement to parental leave are all approaches which will help to improve workforce participation in the Australian economy says NSW’s largest business organisation, NSW Business Chamber.

Australia currently has 171,000 job vacancies with vacancy rates expected to escalate in coming years.

“Providing greater flexibility to older members of the workforce, making it easier for parents to balance work and family commitments and providing greater choice are all approaches that business believes are essential to lifting workforce participation. Businesses must be able to tailor their business needs with staff needs to achieve the best fit”, said Kevin MacDonald, CEO of NSW Business Chamber.

“The old model of “one size fits all” is long gone and Australian employers have the opportunity to lead the world in developing workplaces that are productive, family friendly and built on a genuine partnership between employers and employees.

Doubling of annual leave at half pay

“This option allows an employee to ask an employer for longer periods of leave with the leave payments adjusted accordingly. This is in keeping with the option that allows employees to cash in leave – this proposal gives choice to both employers and employees. Some employees want extra time and others extra money and the policy recognises those differing needs.

Access for both parents to take up to 52 weeks parental leave

“On the face of it, this would appear to mirror the Labor Party policy released in April. We said at that time, we did not expect great take up of this option from employees, simply because most new parents or parents with expanding families, do need to keep the income flowing in during what can be a very expensive period in their lives.

Access to parental leave for grandparents

“Some larger Australian companies are already going down this path, it in fact is one of the innovations that have come out of closer collaborations between employers and employees in recent years. 

“Older workers do have different priorities to young workers in that they have for the most part paid off their mortgages, are financially secure and they can afford and do desire to spend more time with their family and on the activities they enjoy. Businesses have to understand this if they are to stay competitive in attracting and retaining older employees.

“Importantly the Government has recognised that smaller businesses have less capacity in these issues than larger businesses and have developed the right mechanisms to deal with this.

Right of entry and union behaviour issues

“We support the Government’s moves in these areas and call on the Federal Opposition to support these policies that protect Australian workplaces.

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