Why are politicians creating fear in the SMALL business community?
As reported in the Australian Financial Review today, Bill Shorten has promised to establish a new jurisdiction to sit alongside the Fair Work Commission to crack down on "wage theft".
The new small claims tribunal will operate alongside the Fair Work Commission and adjudicate quickly on claims of up to $100,000 per worker. Labor would spend $3.7 million a year to expand a grants program, which is currently used only by community legal centres, to make it easier for workers and employers to present their cases.
Senior Employment Relations Adviser from Employsure, Michael Wilkinson today said the last-minute announcement from Mr. Shorten was disappointing particularly for, “24,000 small businesses we represent; engaging us to do the right thing by their employees.”
Wilkinson questioned the polarising announcement, “It doesn’t make sense. Why create fear in the business community?”
There is no doubt that underpayment is an issue in Australia he said, “But before we label an entire section of Australia's economy as bosses’ intent on ripping off their staff, can we perhaps examine a deeper reason why employers might be struggling to pay their staff correctly?”
According to Wilkinson, “Small businesses need help – not threats of a tribunal.”
Wilkinson explains that the ‘avalanche of pay rate changes’ is an example of why some employers can get caught out, struggling to follow the complex laws and frequent changes.
“Imagine, what this system is like for a small business owner. Not only are they managing the merry-go-round of pay rates, they’re also juggling stock, inventory, supply chain, rostering, marketing, and customer service.”
“Of course, there are rogue operators, every industry in every economy has them. But before we tar all of our small business owners with that brush, let's ask a bigger question: is it possible that Australia's increasingly complex workplace relations system is contributing to the problem?”