Release type: Media Release


Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill amendments


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

The Albanese Labor Government will adopt a range of amendments to the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill after a week of constructive consultations with business groups, unions and experts.

This bill is essential and urgent. It will promote job security, help close the gender pay gap, modernise the workplace bargaining system and get wages moving after a decade of stagnation.

Australians are struggling with the rising cost of living. Their wages are not keeping up with prices, and it’s clear the Government has to intervene to increase access to bargaining and close the loopholes undermining wage growth.

The Government made a clear commitment to the Australian people at the election to get wages moving.

That won’t happen automatically. To get wages moving we need to modernise our workplace laws.

One of the Government’s top priorities is to fix the ailing bargaining system and get more people on to enterprise agreements.

Workers on agreements benefit from better pay and conditions – and employers on agreements benefit from better productivity. But today only 14.7 per cent of workers are on in-date agreements. The system isn’t working.

Single enterprise agreements will remain the primary form of agreement and this Bill makes important improvements to get more people on to single enterprise agreements.

We’re also opening up the multi-employer pathway for people who haven’t been able to access single enterprise agreements, particularly low-paid workers in female-dominated industries. For too long they have been left out of the benefits of bargaining.

This is a critical element of the Government’s plan to get wages moving and close the gender pay gap. We will not compromise on the principle of getting wages moving and getting them moving quickly.

But we’ve been happy to listen to feedback about how to make sensible improvements to the practical application of the Bill. After additional consultations the Government has drafted a number of amendments we will move in the House this week, including:

  • Requiring majority support from employees of each employer for a single interest bargaining stream authorisation;
  • Provide that businesses and workers cannot be compelled into an authorisation or single interest employer agreement when they have agreed to bargain for a proposed single enterprise agreement, and a 6 month grace period where there is a history of effective bargaining;
  • Making further changes to the Better Off Overall Test to ensure new employees under an agreement are not left worse off;
  • Clarifying that the Fair Work Commission must be satisfied a minimum period of good-faith bargaining has occurred before moving to arbitrate;
  • Establish the Government’s promised new National Construction Industry Forum as a statutory advisory body;
  • Giving business 12 months to adjust to changes to fixed-term contracts.

The full details of the amendments will be introduced into Parliament on Tuesday.

Under the previous government wages were deliberately kept low and insecure work was encouraged. Labor is taking the opposite approach because we want to help workers get ahead.