A recent study revealed that one in four Australian SMEs were either inadequately prepared or not well informed about the Federal Government’s new Fair Work industrial relations laws.
The Executive Connection (TEC), a national (and international via Vistage International Inc.) group of chief executive leaders, surveyed 246 business leaders as part of a snap member poll and discovered that 25.2% claimed that they were unequipped for the new laws.
Implemented as of 1 January 2010, the Fair Work scheme is a streamlined set of awards called the National Employment Standards (NES) that replaced the previous government’s controversial WorkChoices program. Set up as a safety net to avoid disadvantage to employees, the NES sets minimum conditions for all employees covered by the national workplace relations system and comprises 10 entitlements.
These include a maximum of 38 hours a week (plus ‘reasonable’ additional hours), parental leave and related entitlements of up to 12 months unpaid leave for every employee, a paid day off on public holidays and up to four weeks notice of termination and redundancy pay.
The TEC believes that a general lack of awareness in the business community could cost the Australian economy, as SMEs are the foundation of the economy and are a significant driver of growth. The body is urging business leaders allocate time and resources to better understand the implications for their businesses. In doing so, companies may avoid unnecessary exposure to administrative complications and the possibility of increased litigation.
For further information on the Fair Work scheme, visit fairwork.gov.au.