“We welcome Prime Minister Albanese’s announcement of an Employment Summit that, among other issues, will consider how employers, employees and unions can collaborate to ensure enterprise bargaining works effectively,” Innes Willox Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“The employment summit should have two key objectives: One is to get more people into work and more people skilled and work ready and the second is to boost our productivity within the workplace which has been flatlining.

“The Prime Minister on election night made it clear that he supported three things: increased wages, increased profits and increased productivity.  You can’t get the increased profits and wages without the increased productivity.

“More broadly we hope that the Employment Summit provides an opportunity to accelerate the encouraging current trends in Australia’s workforce including the rapid increase in full-time female employment; the strong growth of employment of men and women over the traditional retirement age of 65; and the increase in opportunities to meet the expressed preference for flexible work options.

“The Employment Summit is also an opportunity to recognise the central role that upskilling of the existing workforce can play in lifting work satisfaction, productivity and real incomes.  Some of the biggest gains lie in lifting foundation skills - particularly if base-level digital skills are included as foundation skills.

“In relation to revitalising Australia’s enterprise bargaining system, Ai Group does not believe any radical reforms are needed – just a few sensible changes, including:

  • Simplifying the Better Off Overall Test by ensuring that hypothetical types and patterns of work that are unlikely to be engaged in are not taken into account when the Fair Work Commission assesses whether employees would be better off under a proposed agreement.
  • Simplifying the requirements for the FWC to be satisfied that genuine agreement has been reached.
  • Simplifying the requirement for employers to explain the terms of a proposed enterprise agreement to employees prior to the vote.

“The enterprise bargaining system has become a minefield for employers and it is little wonder that the number of enterprise agreements and the number of employees covered by agreements have fallen dramatically since the Fair Work Act was implemented.

“With a few sensible reforms, the enterprise agreement system can once again play a key role in delivering higher productivity, improved remuneration to employees and more competitive businesses,” Innes Willox Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

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