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Government to overhaul workplace relations system, upping protection for SMEs

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that the Australian government will take a fresh look at reinvigorating the workplace relations system.

Government to overhaul workplace relations system, upping protection for SMEs
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A new, separate jurisdiction in the Fair Work Act could be introduced to offer greater protection for businesses. 

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement, noting that it is encouraging for the small business sector. 

“The overwhelming view among small businesses is the legislation is far too complicated, particularly for those with less than 20 employees and no expert HR or legal departments.

“We have already identified a number of simple steps to tackle the overly complex industrial relations system for small businesses that would make a real difference to the sector," Ms Carnell said.

She judged that a key priority should be a review of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, to ensure there are adequate provisions to protect small business employers from an unfair dismissal claim.

"We know that the current protections in place are not doing the job that was originally intended," the Ombudsman said.

"If this and other recommendations are implemented, it will level the playing field for small business who want to do the right thing and empower the Fair Work Ombudsman to deal with businesses that don’t."

Last year, a survey by Employsure revealed that 85 per cent of small business consider regulatory compliance to be the main barrier to growing their business, while a further 68 per cent said workplace laws are poorly explained by regulators.

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