Productivity Commission Review of Workplace Relations

The Federal Government has announced the terms of reference and expected timeline for the Productivity Commission’s review of the workplace relations framework. Mr Eric Abetz, Minister for Employment stated that: “This inquiry will ensure that the laws are meeting their objectives and contributing to productive, rewarding, competitive and harmonious workplaces,” Unions have reacted strongly to the Productivity Commission’s terms of reference. Ms Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU said: "What we have here with this Productivity Commission review is a wide-ranging terms of reference that will throw everything onto the table. It means everything is up for grabs." The Commission is inviting submissions from businesses, business groups, employees and unions for it to consider. The initial closing date for submissions is 13 March 2015. The Productivity Commission has been charged with looking at the workplace relations framework including the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the Independent Contractors Act 2006 (Cth). More specifically it will review the effect of the workplace relations system on:

  • unemployment, underemployment and job creation;
  • fair and equitable pay and conditions for employees, including the maintenance of a relevant safety net;  small businesses;
  • productivity, competitiveness and business investment;
  • the ability of business and the labour market to respond appropriately to changing economic conditions;  patterns of engagement in the labour market;
  • the ability for employers to flexibly manage and engage with their employees;
  • barriers to bargaining; 
  • red tape and the compliance burden for employers;
  • industrial conflict and days lost due to industrial action; and
  • appropriate scope for independent contracting.
  • The final report is due to be completed by the Commission in November 2015. It is expected that the report will form the basis for the Coalition’s workplace relations agenda at the next federal election.