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Union scare campaign about flexible part-time provisions in IR Bill must be rebutted and rejected

"The flexible part-time provisions in the Government’s IR Bill have obvious merit for part-time employees and businesses and union attempts to misrepresent those provisions need to be rebutted and rejected," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

"The provisions in the Bill would allow part-time employees in distressed industries to reach agreement with their employer on the working of additional ordinary hours up to 38 hours per week, subject to numerous safeguards.  This flexibility is obviously in the interests of part-time employees, including many parents, students and migrants.  If the employer is able to offer additional ordinary hours in a given week and a part-timer is happy to work the hours at ordinary rates, it is not sensible for workplace laws to prevent this.

"The flexibility in the Bill is consistent with that already included in many modern awards including the Restaurants Award, the Hospitality Award, the Clubs Award, the Nurses Award, the Social and Community Services Award, the Telecommunications Services Award and the Contract Call Centres Award.  These awards allow part-time employees to work additional ordinary hours in a pay period (up to a limit of 38 hours per week) without the payment of overtime penalties.  Many of the existing provisions were included in awards with the consent of relevant unions.

"In addition, flexible part-time provisions are common in enterprise agreements reached with unions.  For example, there are many enterprise agreements in the retail industry that include this flexibility by agreement with the main union in the industry – the SDA.

"It is wrong for Australia’s laws to enshrine the view that Parliamentarians know better than part-time employees about whether they should be allowed to work a few extra ordinary hours from time to time.

"It is important that the Government's IR Bill is passed without delay," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347