FWC apprenticeship decision aims to strike 'careful balance'
The Fair Work Commission has rejected "unworkable" union claims opposed by industry, according to Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox.
"In today's (August 22) Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision, the full bench has clearly tried to strike a careful balance between the need to modernise wages and conditions for apprentices, without jeopardising jobs and career prospects for young people," Willox said.
"In doing so, it has rejected many unworkable union claims which industry strongly opposed.
"Hopefully the big increases which will apply to first and second year apprentice wage rates from next year will not impact on apprentice numbers which are already under pressure.
"The new wage rates will only apply to those who commence their apprenticeships after 1 January 2014 and will be phased in over a 12 month period up to 1 January 2015. Despite this, there is the risk that the higher rates will have negative employment effects. Hopefully this will not be the case, as apprenticeships are vital in addressing skill shortages and in providing rewarding careers.
"There are big increases for first and second year apprentices in the manufacturing industry but the impact will be bigger in some other industries where the existing rates are much lower for example, hairdressing.
"Pleasingly, the Commission has rejected many ill-conceived claims pursued by the unions during the case including: a claim for employers to pay apprentices for the time spent travelling to local TAFE colleges to undertake off-the-job training; unworkable restrictions on apprentices carrying out manual / labouring work during the period of their apprenticeship; a claim for an extra two weeks' notice of termination, on top of the notice periods that other employees are entitled to.
"The decision is long and complex and it will take some time to fully assess the impact," Willox said.
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