"The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Tony Burke, today foreshadowed a welcome opportunity to consult with business on the next tranche of IR reforms planned for later this year," Innes Willox, chief executive of the national employee association, Ai Group said.

"While the Minister referred to fixing loopholes in the legislation passed last year, we also hope and expect that he will be open to looking at addressing real and emerging problems with the new laws that need fixing.

"For example, we would urge him to look at some of the details governing the practical operation of the new multi-employer bargaining provisions that remain unclear and are obviously problematic. This includes the provisions dealing with the tests and processes to be applied by the Fair Work Commission when determining whether different employers can be drawn into bargaining for, or coverage by, a particular multi-employer agreement against their will.

"While industry isn't expecting wholesale changes to the new laws, it is nonetheless crucial that the Government not adopt a set-and-forget approach, given that a number of last minute amendments to the legislation were made in such an extraordinary rush and without reasonable public consultation.

"It was most welcome to hear that the Government has effectively ruled out supporting union moves to impose bargaining fees on non-union members. This claim was never going to fly, and it was a positive move today for the Minister to make clear that it was not, and we expect that it will not be on the Government’s agenda.

"Among the issues to be included in the bill later this year is action on what the Government and unions term 'wage theft'.

"In implementing such a policy the Government must recognise that the vast majority of underpayments are due to the complexity of the system and inadvertent mistakes by employers. This isn't going to be addressed by just further ramping up penalties on employers. There needs to be tangible and urgent steps taken to reduce the complexity of our all too often overly prescriptive and confusing workplace relations laws.

"The Government must also implement measures to support employers who now face a raft of new rules to comply with and will need to grapple with any further changes being considered. The Government's recent changes have already imposed a significant new regulatory burden on industry.

"Employers will naturally be concerned about efforts to further regulate workplaces so soon after the first wave of measures were passed by parliament and are still being worked through.

"Industry will be seeking to work with the Government to ensure that any new measures do not inhibit the ability of employers to employ, innovate and invest," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries

Tony Melville – 0419 190 347