Release type: Media Release


Modernising workplace relations laws to get wages moving


The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for the Arts

The Albanese Labor Government will get wages moving - particularly for women and small business workers - by modernising Australia’s workplace relations laws.

The message from the Jobs and Skills Summit was clear: the agreement-making system is broken and it’s no longer delivering for employers or workers.

Business and unions agree we need a new approach.

We need a new culture of genuine good-faith negotiation.

We need to update our laws for the modern economy.

That’s why the Government will legislate to ensure workers and businesses have flexible options for reaching agreements – including removing unnecessary limitations on access to single and multi-employer agreements.

This will open up agreement-making to workers who currently cannot access the benefits of agreements such as small business, women in the care and community services sectors, and First Nations people. 

This change will help us close the gender pay gap and address disadvantage.

The Government will also legislate changes to the Better Off Overall Test so it is simple, flexible and fair. 

The BOOT should act as an incentive to boost wages and conditions – not as red tape that prevents agreements altogether.

The Government will also amend the Fair Work Act to give the Fair Work Commission the capacity to proactively help workers and businesses reach agreements, particularly new entrants and SMEs.

Our changes will also close loopholes in the Fair Work Act that drive wages down.

Separately, the Government will act on other summit agreements between industry and unions to:

  • Give the Fair Work Commission scope to set minimum standards in the road transport sector to improve safety
  • Establish a National Construction Industry Forum that will bring industry and unions together to address issues such as mental health, safety, training, productivity, culture, diversity and gender equity

These changes add to the election commitments we made that will create secure jobs, better pay and a fairer system.

The Government has brought people together, listened to their ideas with an open-mind – and will now deliver changes that benefit Australian workers and businesses.