What the major industrial relations reforms this week mean for Queensland casual workers and small businesses has been revealed.
What the major industrial relations reforms this week mean for Queensland casual workers and small businesses has been revealed.

What new industrial relations reforms mean for you

It will be easier for casual workers to switch to permanent positions with their employer, but the Morrison Government's push for bigger reforms were gutted in an embarrassing defeat.

Plans to fast-track pay negotiations, cutting overtime for part-time workers who take shifts above their usually contracted hours and more were stripped out of the industrial reforms which had been a year in the making.

The Morrison Government abandoned its own plans for national laws to jail bosses who deliberately underpay workers, though Queensland already has tougher measures in place.

Queensland business groups backed the certainty the changes would provide casual workers and employers, while unions accused the government of being "vindictive" in dumping the wage theft changes.


The Australian Council of Trade Unions has promised to campaign against Pauline Hanson's One Nation at the next election for backing the changes it says will hurt casual workers.

Under the changes, businesses with 15 or more employees will have to offer casual workers permanency after 12 months if they have had consistent hours for the past six months.

Small businesses, those with fewer than 15 staff, will be exempt from having to make the offer, but will have to grant permanency if requested by an eligible worker.

Disputes will be sorted in the Federal Circuit Court or Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Key reforms stripped out included watering down the better off overall test, not allowing enterprise bargaining agreements to be renegotiated during the life of a greenfield construction project up to eight years, and fast-tracking EBA negotiations.

Opposition industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said bosses still had the upper hand over due to an "unfair" definition of a casual worker.

"For most workers they're not going to have the industrial strength to make the various requests and work their way through the system," he said.

Industrial relations Minister Michaelia Cash said the laws also protected businesses from "double-dipping" risks, created by recent court decisions, which would have seem some casual workers able to claim backplay for entitlements they had already been paid through loading.

Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry industrial relations specialist Michael O'Brien said the changes to casual employment would provide certainty to both workers and employers.


"If someone is a casual and has the right to be permanent, of course they should be converted," he said.

Mr O'Brien said they were disappointed changes to allow part-time workers to take additional shifts above rostered hours, without being paid overtime, were abandoned.

"It would help business and the employees because they would have the agreement in writing and know exactly where they stand," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would be practical and not further pursue the rejected reforms.

"I will send (the Senate) other job-making initiatives they can support. If those don't want to support these job-making initiatives, then that is on them," he said.





Originally published as What new industrial relations reforms mean for you