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NSW Business Chamber has concerns on Union Right of Entry

21 January, 2009

The Federal Government’s Fair Work Bill has wide reaching implications for New South Wales’ employers and careful consideration must be given to the final shape of the legislation to avoid adding an additional burden onto business, according to the state’s peak business group, the NSW Business Chamber.


Not only has the small business exemption from unfair dismissal been removed, but redundancy rules have been made more complex.

The new General Protections regime adds another layer of anti-discrimination law for business to comply with, and will allow employees to ‘jurisdiction shop’.

NSW Business Chamber represents over 30,000 employers and is affiliated with more than 120 chambers of commerce throughout NSW and the ACT.

Australian Business Industrial (ABI), the industrial relations arm of the NSW Business Chamber, has made a submission to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee’s inquiry into the Fair Work Bill.

“NSW Business Chamber and ABI are seeking to constructively engage with the Government to ensure that its new system is implemented with as little disruption to NSW businesses and their employees as can be managed during the transition period”, NSW Business Chamber CEO Kevin MacDonald said.

“After reviewing the issues raised in the proposed legislation, we have serious concerns some measures will add to burdens being faced by business in these tough economic times, by adding to the administrative and financial costs of employing staff.

“The ABI submission focuses on highlighting areas of the legislation that will impact negatively on business productivity and cooperative relationships between employers and employees. We have also focused on holding the Government to account against the promises it made before the election.

“NSW Business Chamber and ABI are particularly concerned with the changes proposed to union right of entry. Prior to the 2007 Federal Election, the Government promised that “existing right of entry laws will be retained” .  The right of entry rules in the Fair Work Bill 2008 do not retain existing laws; instead right of entry has been significantly expanded. 

“NSW Business Chamber and ABI are concerned that the new right of entry rules will bring back the bad old days of union turf wars - which cause serious harm to business and rarely bring direct benefits to employees either. To solve this issue, NSW Business Chamber and ABI have recommended that the Government should maintain right of entry in line with historical union coverage.

“NSW Business Chamber and ABI are also concerned that under the new right of entry rules, unions will be able to inspect the personal and employment details of employees who are not members of the union. We believe that an employee’s right not to join a union should be respected, and so we have recommended that the Government amend the proposed rules so that unions can only inspect the records of the employees who have chosen the union as their representative.

NSW Business Chamber and ABI also raised a number of other concerns about provisions in the proposed legislation.

- The changes to the transmission of business rules will make it more difficult in these tough economic times to buy, sell or restructure of business.
- Changes to agreement making will mean that not only will businesses be forced into bargaining with the union, but that the process will be long and complex.
- Not only has the small business exemption from unfair dismissal been removed, but redundancy rules have been made more complex.
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The new General Protections regime adds another layer of anti-discrimination law for business to comply with, and will allow employees to ‘jurisdiction shop’.

NSW Business Chamber represents over 30,000 employers and is affiliated with more than 120 chambers of commerce throughout NSW and the ACT.

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