COVID-19 Coronavirus - Advice for members

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Getting the economy moving, wins and looming risks

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2 September 2020

I wanted to update you on the work we are doing to get the economy moving again, some of the wins we have achieved that have avoided huge costs for members and potential looming risks.

On the policy front, the Premiers seem to be more focused on border closures than plans for economic recovery. In response to this lack of direction, and while emphasising the importance of targeted strategies to protect the health of the vulnerable and frontline workers, we have put enormous effort into bringing the focus back to the economic policies the state and federal governments should be following. Victoria’s lockdown in particular has been harrowing for the community and business and we have called for a rapid return to normal that would include plans to drive new activity and attract investment and boost business cash flow including through a state Payroll Tax holiday.

We will be looking to the Federal Budget scheduled for 6 October to lay out a national plan for recovery and our budget submission is here. The submission has a broad range of proposals that the national government can adopt to drive economic growth including in relation to employment, training, infrastructure investment and stimulus through the tax system.

We have also released a series of policy papers looking at how best Australia as a nation and our states, territories, regions and communities can recover, rebuild and reposition for a stronger and better economy and society over the long term. The research and policy proposals will give food for thought and comfort to policy makers at the Federal and State level who are prepared to be sensible as well as suitably bold. These are strange times, but we need creative thinking to get the country off the ropes and moving again. All of the papers are now available on our website and I recommend them to you.

Ai Group's industrial relations policy paper was released in June and we will issue a further paper at a later stage given the Federal Government’s ongoing IR reform process. We are involved in all of the Government’s five working groups exploring reforms to the industrial relations system that will help regrow jobs lost in the COVID-19 pandemic. This has involved a gruelling agenda of meetings and consultations with the government and unions. The working groups are expected to complete their deliberations later this month or early in October.

You may not be aware that beyond day-to-day support for members and policy leadership Ai Group has recently been involved in two major High Court cases with potential massive cost risks to business. Most recently Ai Group Workplace Lawyers acted for Mondelez International in its win in the High Court against the AMWU which clarified personal/carer's leave entitlements for millions of Australian employees and, if not successful, would have had major cost implications for a very large number of businesses.

Ai Group has also provided evidence in support of member WorkPac’s application to the High Court for special leave to appeal the Federal Court’s worrying decision in the WorkPac v Rossato case. The Federal Court’s decision exposes businesses to ‘double-dipping’ claims for annual leave, redundancy pay and other entitlements by casuals who have worked regular shifts. The Government has estimated that this looming cost risk for business could be as much as $39.4bn for liabilities accrued in the past six years. In addition to our successful urging of the Government to intervene in the case, we are arguing for the Government to legislate to prevent this double-dipping.

Finally, thank you to those members who have paid their membership subscriptions so promptly. We hoped the huge levels of support and advice we have given to so many members, especially through our Workplace Advice Line, our regular Member Advices and Ai Group Workplace Lawyers, would result in a renewed commitment and that is proving correct.

We need your ongoing support to continue achieving such positive outcomes for members and, as always, I would be most interested in hearing your views:


Stay safe,
Innes Willox
Chief Executive - Ai Group

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