Federal Government’s new Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill delivers valuable improvements for working families
Last week, the Federal Government tabled the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill 2022 with a suite of measures intended to stimulate wage growth. The new industrial relations bill includes improvements in three key areas for working parents: flexible workplaces, multi-employer bargaining, and gender equity.
Under the bill, employers will be required to genuinely pursue agreement with employees on flexible workplace practices, and will empower the Fair Work Commission to resolve disputes where employers refuse or ignore requests for flexible work arrangements.
“Flexible work is a necessity for parents,” said Executive Director of The Parenthood, Georgie Dent. “Most jobs don’t match school and early childhood hours, leaving parents in a bind in a traditional workplace setting. Flexible work arrangements will empower parents to balance family and work life, leading to a more productive workforce.
“We know that, in places where workplace flexibility is encouraged, parents record a higher level of satisfaction with their employment, and there is reduced staff turnover, increased productivity and improved employee wellbeing.
“This is also critical for dads, who currently face discrimination in the workplace if they take time to care for their children.
“Workplace flexibility, such as adjustable hours and remote work, will encourage a shift in our mindset, and lead to a workplace culture that values parenting among both working fathers and mothers.
“This will not only benefit workers and their organisations, but increased productivity will benefit the economy.”
The bill also includes some changes to facilitate multi-employer bargaining, allowing employees to collectively bargain for better agreements.
“Multi-employer bargaining will be highly beneficial for early childhood educators, who remain one of the lowest paid cohorts of workers in Australia,” said Dent. “They are leaving the sector in droves and vacancies are at a record high. Without early educators there is no early education for children and working parents.”
“Early educators need to be valued, supported and paid better. Improved employment conditions in Australia’s early learning sector is part of building a strong and resilient economy - and sets children up for lifelong success,” said Dent.
“By addressing flexible work and enabling multi-employer bargaining for the early education workforce, which is predominantly female, the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill provides avenues for gender equity in the workplace,” Dent said.
The bill also makes gender equity an Object of the Fair Work Act, and brings anti-discrimination provisions in the Fair Work Act, such as breastfeeding, into line with the Sex Discrimination Act, meaning breastfeeding workers cannot be discriminated against.
“Our research shows that breastfeeding provisions at work reduce absenteeism and improve productivity, providing a significant return on investment to employers,” said Dent.