|This post should attract some debate.
My take on the subject is that there are a large number of highly skilled Australians in white collar roles who are criminally under paid in that they have worked their way up through their vocation / profession with hard work and extra study only to end up in dead end staff roles where they are expected to pull 70hr weeks to carry former peers who get paid more for a 45hr week with penalty rates. Where is the incentive to invest ones own time and money to fill critical skills shortages when you end up working longer hours on a significantly lower effective hourly rate than if you just sat on your backside and let the union get you more for nothing?
Ewin Hannan | September 26, 2009
Article from: The Australian
THE Rudd government's award overhaul could force white-collar professionals, including accountants, human resources and advertising staff, to be covered by awards for the first time.
Business groups said they feared that a decision yesterday by a full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission opened the way for award coverage to be extended to professionals earning less than $108,300, the cut-off point in the Fair Work Act.
The restaurant sector also warned of extra costs and job losses, particularly in Queensland, after the commission rejected the industry's bid to substantially reduce penalty rates paid to employees.
In handing down the latest round of new awards, the commission released a draft miscellaneous award designed to include employees not covered by any other modern award.
"It is unclear which employees will be covered by this award," the full bench said. "It may be that it will have application in some areas of the workforce which have not been covered by awards before."
It said it would appear the miscellaneous award "will cover the businesses of accountants as this is not an industry covered by a modern award".
Heather Ridout, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, said business would fight to ensure the decision would "not lead to an extension in award coverage and consequent operational and cost difficulties for industry".
"It is vital that HR professionals, accountants, etcetera, who are currently award-free, remain so," Ms Ridout said. "Many professional employees earn less than $108,300.
"The award includes hefty overtime penalties for hours worked in excess of 38 in a week and shift penalties for work performed after 7pm. These penalties are unworkable for professional employees."
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the decision had the potential to "spread the tentacles" of awards into professions that had been traditionally award-free.
Peter Anderson, the chamber's chief executive, said the commission's statement was "a cause of significant concern to industry".
"Regulation should not be made unless it is clearly known who is to be regulated, why, and how," Mr Anderson said.
"Award coverage and award conditions like overtime rates, penalty payments for work beyond certain hours, and annual leave loadings do not form part of the salary arrangements that exist in the managerial, professional or higher-income private sector labour force.
"Coverage of these employees by awards serves no useful purpose, and would also limit flexibility promised by the government under the National Employment Standards."
Mr Anderson said the commission's statement was at odds with government policy.
"It risks extending the reach of the award system into higher-income, managerial and professional work that was never intended to be covered by modern awards under the government's new IR laws," he said.
"Industry will assess the miscellaneous 'catch-all' award against two criteria - the government's pre-election promise that high income earners would not be covered by awards, and the government's award modernisation directive that awards would not cover work classifications not traditionally regulated by IR awards."
A spokeswoman for Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard last night reiterated the government's stated position, and said the government would examine the exposure draft in light of concerns Ms Gillard had previously raised with the commission.
Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive John Hart yesterday criticised the commission after the full bench rejected the organisation's bid to substantially cut or eliminate penalty rates applying to industry employees. Following employer pressure, Ms Gillard directed the commission in May to treat restaurants, cafes and catering businesses separately from hotels, and establish a penalty rate and overtime regime that recognised the industry's "core trading times and the labour-intensive nature of work".
Employers sought to have the Saturday penalty rate of 25 per cent applying to full-time and part-time employees in some states removed, as well as the 10per cent penalty for worki