"From the time that the Opposition first announced its 'Same Job, Same Pay' proposal before the last federal election, Ai Group has consistently pointed out that the proposal is unfair and unworkable. It is disappointing that the Opposition has now introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Same Job, Same Pay) Bill 2021 into Parliament which contains all the flaws of the original announcement, and more," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said today.

"The definition of 'labour hire' in the Bill is extremely broad. Consequently, the Bill would disrupt countless business-to-business contracting arrangements in which the employees of one business carry out work for another business, in numerous industry sectors, affecting the viability of many businesses and the ongoing employment of many thousands of employees.

"The Bill would require labour hire and contracting businesses to provide not only the same 'pay', but the same 'conditions', as those provided by the client business. This is obviously unfair and unworkable. For example, if a business implements an employee share scheme for its employees, how can a labour hire / contracting firm be expected to offer its employees shares in another company? Also, if a retailer offers its employees discounted groceries, how is a labour hire / contracting firm providing services to the retailer supposed to do the same? Further, if an airline offers its employees access to heavily discounted airfares, it is unfair and unworkable to expect a labour hire / contracting firm providing services to the airline to do the same.

"Labour hire and contracting businesses need to be able to make their own decisions, in conjunction with their own employees, on what salaries and employment conditions are appropriate, so long as the relevant awards and workplace laws are complied with.

"The latest ABS statistics show that only 1.1% of the workforce is employed by a labour hire firm. This proportion is lower than it has been over the past 10 years. Ongoing attempts by unions to demonise the labour hire industry are not in anyone’s interests.

"The Bill would cause major problems for labour hire and contracting businesses as well as for businesses that use labour hire and contracting firms.

"Businesses often use labour hire and contractors to fill gaps in capability or to undertake non-core functions where they need flexibility or specific skills. The Bill’s exclusion of workers covering the roles of employees for up to three months or to cover surges in demand for up to three months, goes nowhere near addressing the problems that the 'same job, same pay' proposal will cause. Similarly, the exclusion of businesses with up to 15 employees that engage labour hire will not address the problems that would be caused for thousands of larger businesses.

"Some of the largest labour hire and contracting businesses operating in Australia are multi-national firms. The Federal Opposition’s Bill sends completely the wrong message to overseas head offices, that Australia is not a good place to invest.

"Ai Group urges the Opposition to rethink the proposal in the interests of those who work in the labour hire or contracting industries, or use the services of these firms," Mr Willox said.

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