After all the uncertainty, it's back to ALP workplace relations policy for Australia's employers.

Last week's Independents backing for the ALP to maintain Government has cleared a path for the Government to implement its existing policies and pre-election policies.

These policies include:

  • Compulsory superannuation guarantee increases - from 9 per cent to 12 per cent by the end of the decade1. While this increase was originally conditional on the mining ‘super profits tax’ being introduced, in July 2010 the Government led by the new Prime Minister reached a deal with the major mining companies for a ‘Minerals Resource Rent Tax’. Despite the projected lower Government tax revenues, prior to the election, it appeared that the Government still intended to introduce the compulsory superannuation guarantee increases. With the Minerals Resource Rent Tax policy now in the hands of the Government, the Independents (who may or may not support that policy) and the Greens, the future of the compulsory superannuation guarantee increases remains in question.
  • The Howard Government’s General Employee Entitlements Redundancy Scheme (GEERS), which had been continued under the Rudd Government, will be replaced by the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG). The FEG will extend the current entitlements to include all unpaid redundancy "entitlements" (up to a maximum of four weeks for each year of service) arising from collective agreements and contracts. Directors or ‘excluded employees’ (as defined in the Corporations Act) of the employing company and employees who earn over the high income threshold are excluded from the FEG.2
  • Paid Parental Leave - a taxpayer-funded 18-week parental leave scheme at the minimum wage from next year, together with the election promises made by the Government (for example, fathers and partners entitlement to 2 weeks paid leave) and the amendments made in the Senate immediately before the election.

In our Election Briefings conducted for clients in August, we indicated that our experience and the statistics reveal that the Unfair Dismissal and Adverse Action Claims impacts on small business are real, with:

  • 5,208 unfair dismissal claims lodged in the second half of 2009
  • 7,994 unfair dismissal claims lodged across the 12 months ended 30 June 2009
  • Adverse Action Claims on the rise, with the ALP now able to claim a mandate for the breadth of this law which had not been announced in policy before the 2007 election.

These trends are set to continue.

A "watch this space" issue is whether the Green-Labor pact will see any Greens industrial relations becoming Government policy. Greens policy includes to:

  • Legislate for a mandatory minimum for 5 weeks paid annual leave for all employees.
  • Limit the tax deductibility of any executive salaries to 25 times the minimum full-time adult wage.
  • Abolish the ABCC and repeal the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 (Cth).
  • Restore the right of all employees - including casual, fixed term and probationary workers - to challenge termination of employment where it is unfair, with reinstatement to be the remedy except in exceptional circumstances.3

Click here for a detailed examination of the Paid Parental Leave Scheme - An Australian First.