Ombudsman outlines 'simple' changes for small business
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) says many of the improvements to workplace relations for small businesses can be done with minimal legislative changes.
In releasing the ASBFEO position paper, Ombudsman Kate Carnell said it contains practical and realistic solutions that "attempt to make it simpler for businesses to do the right thing and build their confidence to employ".
She said there was an overwhelming view from small business that existing legislation is “far too complicated for the majority of Australian businesses with less than 20 employees and no expert HR or legal departments”.
“Some of these achievable recommendations can be accomplished without legislation, and others can be realised with very minor legislative changes,” Ms Carnell said.
“If these 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.”
One of the achievable non-legislative solutions laid out in the paper include the Fair Work Ombudsman further developing the Small Business Showcase to include an online decision-making and pay calculation tool, similar to the ATO’s single touch payroll initiative.
Other suggestions include publishing Fair Work Commission outcomes in plain language so established precedent is more transparent and predictable, and expediting the review of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code to simplify and remove ambiguity.
However, the paper also suggested improvements requiring legislative changes, including putting in place a streamlined and appropriate small business Enterprise Bargaining Agreement as an option for some businesses.
Another legislative proposal from the paper is investigating a legislated option for optional loaded rates as a method of simplifying payment for businesses choosing that option.
Ms Carnell insisted that the paper is by no means their final word on the workplace relations system.
“It is simply some small but doable steps that will make a real difference to small businesses now, giving them the confidence to employ more staff,” she said.