Moving Australia



 

Industrial Relations e-Alerts 

APTIA IR e-Alerts are electronically delivered to you via email as IR news breaks. They contain the latest and breaking IR industry news as well as any recent industry decisions or important dates in the industry.  

 

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May 18 2016

March Labour Price Index

The ABS released today its March 2016 quarterly tracking for wage increases based on the wage price index. Generally the WPI/ LPI is used by most State Governments as the model upon which labour rates are increased under their bus service contracts.

QUARTERLY CHANGE (DEC QTR 2015 TO MAR QTR 2016)

 

 

ANNUAL CHANGE (MAR QTR 2015 TO MAR QTR 2016)

 

 

ANNUAL CHANGE FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT (MARCH QTR 2015 TO MARCH QTR 2016)

 

 

Note: The Fair Work Commission will present its minimum wage determination for 2016/ 2017 in the first week of June 2016.

 

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22 December 2015

Productivity Commission Report

APTIA - Productivity Commission Report APTIA - Productivity Commission Report (5826 KB)

The Australian Productivity Commission has released its much awaited final report into Australia’s industrial and workplace relations system.

As expected much of the initial ‘brouha ‘has centred around the APC recommendation to reduce weekend penalty rates on weekends to ‘time and half’ for both days (Saturday and Sunday) but only in the hospitality, entertainment, and retail restaurant and cafes industries.

As further expected the Trade Union movement has marshalled their troops for a major defence of penalty rates with the Government refusing to ‘rule in’ or rule out’ anything but with the qualification that penalty rates will always be determined by the Fair Work Commission.

Despite the issue of penalty rates there are some commendable recommendations made by the APC, some canvassed by APTIA in its submission and they are worth lobbying Government to support.

The Minister, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash has indicated that she will consult with stakeholders after Christmas and take any changes to next year’s election.

Some of the more interesting recommendations that may benefit our industry include;

Cheers,

Ian MacDonald
National Industrial Relations Manager

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14 October 2015

The Fair Work (Amendment) Bill 2014 passes the Senate

Is it a co-incidence or was it about the happen anyway?

With a watered down, but still relevant set of changes to the Fair Work Act 2009, the Fair Work (Amendment) Bill 2004, has passed the Senate yesterday and will be assented into law once the Government in the House of Representatives has endorsed the amended Bill.

The Coalition and crossbench senators Glenn Lazarus, John Madigan, Dio Wang (PUP), Nick Xenophon, Bob Day (Family First), David Leyonhjelm (LDP) and Ricky Muir (AMEP) provided 33 votes to pass the legislation, while Labor, the Greens and independent Senator Jacqui Lambie opposed it.

The main changes, if approved by the HR will be:

The Government couldn't attract sufficient support from crossbenchers for other key elements of the bill that would have curbed right of entry, made IFAs more flexible, clarified obligations to pay annual leave loading on termination and ensured transfers to related entities didn't have to comply with transfer of business requirements.

Nevertheless the new provisions passed relating to Greenfields Agreements and the Right to Take Protected Action are significant should be seen in the light of a change in attitude by the Senate towards genuine and reasonable industrial relations reform.

 

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22 September 2015

A new Minister for Employment 
Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, has announced Senator, the Hon Michaela Cash is the next Minister for Employment. Senator Cash will replace outgoing Minister, Senator, Hon Eric Abetz, who has been the Minister for Employment since the Government was elected in 2013. Senator Cash was sworn in on Monday 21 September 2015.

Before entering the Senate in 2007 Senator Cash was a Senior Associate with the law firm, Freehills, in Western Australia, where she worked from 1999. Senator Cash practised as a solicitor in all areas of employment and industrial law, including industrial relations, employee relations, occupational health and safety, equal opportunity, executive employment and unfair dismissal.

Senator Cash was appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for both Immigration and the Status of Women. Following the 2013 election, she was appointed Assistant Minister for Immigration and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.
Senator Cash is a long-standing member of the Liberal Party of WA. She was an executive member of the Curtin University Young Liberals from 1988 to 1990 and then the Western Australian Young Liberal Movement, where she held numerous positions including State Vice-President.

She was a long time member of the Liberal Party of Western Australia’s State Council and was the President of the Moore Division. She has also served on the Party's state executive.

Senator Cash will now inherit the unenviable task of implementing the long awaited industrial reforms, which the Government took to the last election in 2013 and which includes navigating the passage of a number of Bills before the Senate, which have either been rejected or simply not put to a vote.

These Bills include the:

APTIA has also recently made further submissions to the Australian Productivity Commissions interim report on Australia’s workplace relations framework and is participating in the four year review of the modern awards, which is looking at a range of Industrial issues such as productivity and flexibility in the workplace, the decasualisation of the workplace, dealing with domestic violence in the workplace, the task of getting more women into the workforce especially following parental leave and, of course, the role of penalty rates and unsociable hours in a changing work environment.

Senator Cash will lead the Government responses to all of these issues and APTIA looks forward to working with Senator Cash to ensure that public transport industry issues are accommodated in any change.

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4 August 2015

Today the Australian Productivity Commission handed down its draft Report into Australia’s Workplace Relations Framework. Written submissions and comments have been invited by 18 September 2015, whilst public hearings have been set down for September 2015.

It is anticipated that the final report with recommendations will be released in November 2015.

Given the recently announced industrial relations platforms by the ALP and the ACTU this draft report represents the Productivity Commissions much anticipated response to Australia’s workplace relations framework.

The draft report is available on the Productivity Commissions website www.pc.gov.au and a summary of the review can be found below.

There are recommendations encompassing some 25 chapters. The most relevant recommendations for the bus and coach industry include:

  1. The separation of the Fair Work Commission into two bodies; one being a Tribunal division, whilst the other to establish minimum standards and to moderate awards.
  2. In unfair dismissal matters re-instatement to be removed as the primary remedy with cases being determined on the papers rather than by conciliation or hearing.
  3. The removal of the four year review of modern awards.
  4. Sunday rates to become the same as Saturday rates and in some industries (not public transport, but service industries) casuals and permanent employees would get the same rate on weekends.
  5. Enterprise agreement s to run up to five years with a change for the better off overall test to a no disadvantage test against other like classes of employees rather than the relevant modern award.
  6. The reintroduction of individual arrangements up to 12 months in which a ‘no disadvantage test’ would replace the BOOT, encompassing more than wages.
  7. A watering down of the right to take protected action, by giving to the Fair Work Commission the discretion to withhold a protected action ballot order where it appears the protected action is just being used as an industrial tactic.
  8. Powers being given to the Fair Work Commission to limit the frequency of Union visits and to restrict them to 2 every 90 days if they do not have any members.

A more detailed analysis will be provided in next month’s Everybody Out.

APTIA workplace relations draft overview APTIA workplace relations draft overview (1797 KB)


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Payment of Annual Loading on Termination

11 June 2015

The Bus Industry was today granted a reprieve by the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission who deferred making a decision on whether annual leaving loading is payable on termination of employment.

The Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010 is one of only 29 Awards which specifically excludes payment of leave loading and APTIA, along with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry of which BIC is a member, has strongly advocated the retention of this exemption.

The Full Bench considered a number of applications relating to annual leave including; 

The Fair Work Commission referenced to the fact that the previous Fair Work Act Review Panel in 2012 had recommended that that the exemption should continue in those modern awards in which it applied and further referenced the fact that the Fair Work (Amendment) Bill 2014 had also sought to rectify the anomaly. The Full Bench referred to a recent case (Centennial Northern Mining Service Pty Ltd v. CFMEU (No.2)) which upheld the Fair Work Ombudsman’s view that the leave loading is payable, even for Awards in which an exemption existed. This case is under appeal by the Full Bench, which concluded;

“There is a degree of uncertainty surrounding the operation of s.90(2)and consideration of the ACTU’s claim should be adjourned. However, any interested party may seek to have the matter called back on for further programming and submissions.”

APTIA recommends that Bus and Coach Operators still need to be cautious when relying on the exemption contained within the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010, because of the potential of some future Full Bench decision which has retrospective consequences.

However until such time as the Full Bench actually determines this issue or the legislation is passed then an Operator would not a breach of the terms and conditions of the PVTA to rely upon the exemption.


The Full Bench indicated that it was considering making a model ‘annual leave’ clause relating to the other matters which are generally cover already in the PVTA.

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Rates to rise 2.5% from 1 July 2015

3 June 2015

The Fair Work Commission has set out the 2015 rate increase at 2.5% which will ensure that the Passenger vehicle Transportation Award increases from the first pay period after 1 July 2015.

The new rates of pay including casual and permanent employment is set out below:

GRADE 

CURRENT 

INCREASE 1 JULY 2015 

CASUALS (25% loading)

Grade 1

$691.40

$708.69 ($18.65)

$23.31

Grade 2

$708.20

$725.91 ($19.10)

$23.88

Grade 3

$748.80

$767.52 ($20.20)

$25.25

Grade 4

$774.90

$794.27 ($20.90)

$26.13

Grade 5

$817.80

$838.25 ($22.06)

$27.58

Grade 6

$853.80

$875.15 ($23.03)

$28.79

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Medical Tests for Employees

27 April 2015

In a decision of a single Commissioner, the Fair Work Commission, on Friday 24 April 2015 (TWU v Cement Australia Pty Ltd [2015] FWC 158, before Commissioner Spencer), has ruled that an employer can’t make medical health assessments compulsory for their employees.

The Transport Workers Union of Australia (Queensland branch) sought to arbitrate, under Section  739 of the Fair Work Act, a provision in the Cement Australia Enterprise Agreement, which required all employees to undertake bi-annual medical checks, as a proactive way to  advise employees of their fitness levels and any level of risk in their undertaking their work tasks.

The TWU has sought a new provision to be included into the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010, as part of the 4 yearly review, to limit an employer’s right to request an employee to see the employer’s doctor to circumstances where the employer has a ‘genuine suspicion of reasonable grounds that an employee cannot perform the inherent requirements of their jobs’.

In the Cement Australia case the TWU had disputed the Cement Australia’s right to direct its drivers to participate in the medical checks’ program, especially when regular medical assessments were a requirement under the national heavy vehicle accreditation scheme.

The Fair Work Commission agreed and ruled that there must be a genuine need for a medical assessment and it must be relevant to the requirements of the worker’s job. The Commission also considered that the employer had an obligation to ensure that it could keep the medical reports private and secure.
The Commission went further to uphold the basic principle that an employer could direct a single employee to participate in a medical assessment with an employer nominated doctor to ensure that the employee could perform the inherent requirements of their job.

The TWU Queensland branch has hailed this decision as a landmark decision. The decision does not limit in any way the right of an employer to ensure that an employee is fit for work which is a critical component of a bus driver’ job description, especially from a work health and safety perspective and the retention of the driver’s driver authority.

It is important however that APTIA members’ ensure that this right to require a ‘fit for work’ medical, is imbedded into their enterprise agreements. Currently the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010 states:

“An employer may require an employee and the employee will agree to submit to a medical examination upon engagement and thereafter periodically at the discretion of the employer.” (Clause 15.2 (e) (i)).    

This clause may go further than the decision in the Cement Australia case and may be varied in the current review process.


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National Industrial Relations Seminar

March 26, 2015

APTIA, the industrial arm of BIC, has just held its National IR seminar at the Realm Hotel in Canberra. In a first, both the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Eric Abetz and  Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations the Hon Brendan O'Connor MP outlined the government and alternate government's plans for industrial relations into the future.

High profile industrial relations advocates, Senior Deputy President Acton from the Fair Work Commission, Tim Capelin, senior IR partner at Piper Alderman, solicitors and Richard Clancy, the Workplace Relations Director from ACCI provided expert insights into a range of relevant IR topics.

Nikki Brouwers, the Managing Director of the Interact Group, presented her research on the health and wellbeing of the bus and coach industry. The results of the research are now incorporated into the second edition of the  National Industrial Relations and Work Health and Safety Guide which along with the  Health and Well Being Awareness Guide, launched by APTIA at the seminar, can now be found in the Member's Area of this site.

The following presentations are available for viewing:

•    The role of the Fair Work Commission in the 4 Yearly Review of the Modern Awards - Senior Deputy President Acton

APTIA IR Seminar - SDP Acton APTIA IR Seminar - SDP Acton (389 KB)

•    What Business  wants out of IR Reform - Richard Clancy, ACCI

APTIA IR Seminar - ACCI APTIA IR Seminar - ACCI (1371 KB)


•    Preparing for an Unfair Dismissal Application - Tim Capelin, Piper Alderman, solicitors

APTIA IR Seminar - Piper Alderman APTIA IR Seminar - Piper Alderman (1311 KB)


•    How tailored health programs positively influence productivity, wellbeing and strength of the bus and coach industry - Nikki Brouwers, Interact Group 

APTIA IR Seminar - Interact Group APTIA IR Seminar - Interact Group (1509 KB)

 

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Gender Equality Reporting

February 26, 2015

The Government announced yesterday that it proposes to ease the gender reporting requirements on employers (i.e. who employ over 100 employees); in a move that it claims will cut compliance costs by more than a third. The new rules however won’t take effect until the 2015-16 reporting period.

APTIA had made representations on behalf of its members both in writing and directly to the Minister.

The good news is that reporting requirements for 2014/15 will remain the same as the previous year and the proposed more extensive reporting requirements will not be implemented.

Members should note that the Gender Equality Reporting period runs from April 1 to March 31, rather than the financial year. Members then have two months to lodge reports, which are due between April 1 and May 31.
From next year, employers will not be required to report data on:

The Government further announced there would be no changes to the Workplace Gender Equality Act, which requires private sector employers with 100 or more employees to report annually to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

Click on the PDF below for further information:

APTIA Information Sheet - Gender Equality APTIA Information Sheet - Gender Equality (264 KB)


 
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‘No Child Left Behind’ policy upheld


The Fair Work Commission handed down on 19 December 2014 a landmark decision upholding the right of an employer to enforce its “No child is Left Behind” policy, relating to the carriage of school children on their buses.

In the decision, Steven Curtis v. Transit Australia Pty Ltd, [2014] FWC 867, 22 December 2014, Deputy President Hamilton was required to review the summary dismissal of an employee who had breached the Company’s “No Child Left Behind” policy, in which the employee had been trained.

The Transport Workers Union, representing the employee, submitted that any policy which purports to remove a driver’s discretion in relation to refusal of travel to persons who do not pay a fare (including children who are not school children) cannot be lawful or reasonable.

The Australian Public Transport Industrial Association, represented its member and submitted that the policy “No Child Left Behind”, enunciated by both Queensland Transport and adopted by Transit Australia, included all school students at infant and primary levels as well as students at secondary level, up to 17/18 years. APTIA contended that the Policy applied to all children of school age who travelled on public transport at all times of the day, on all days of the week and was an important policy for the protection of children.
 
Deputy President Hamilton stated:
 
“In my view (‘No Child Left Behind”) is both lawful and reasonable having regard to the principles in Woolworth Limited v Cameron Brown, 26/ 09/ 2005, PR963023. There is nothing in Government Guiding Principles, Code of Conduct or Regulations which prevents this employer in implementing its stated “No Child Left Behind” policy.”
 
The Decision, in which the dismissal was upheld, provides comfort to APTIA members that it is lawful and reasonable for Bus Operators to adopt safety policies, advocated by Government, to protect young persons provided that their employees are fully aware of those policies.
 











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