Greens agree to back IR bill after boosting Paid Parental Leave and protections for the BOOT


Greens Leader and Workplace Relations spokesperson, Adam Bandt MP and Greens Employment Spokesperson, Senator Barbara Pocock say the Greens have agreed to back the government’s IR bill after securing significant additional improvements, including giving parents an enforceable right to request unpaid parental leave and protecting the existing Better Off Overall Test.

The Greens have been locked in negotiations with the government on the bill for several months and the government has already included a number of long-standing Greens initiatives, such as an enforceable right to better work/life balance, banning of pay secrecy clauses and abolishing the ABCC, in the bill.

The government's original bill attempted to remove prospective workers from being considered under the Better Off Overall Test when agreements are approved, something the Greens were concerned could have led to prospective workers being worse off. The Greens have ensured that the test in the existing s193 will remain. Further, the bill will be amended to clarify that when applying the BOOT and considering potential work patterns of current or future employees, the FWC will still have to apply the existing tests and assess any work patterns the employer, union or employees consider foreseeable, save that the FWC must have regard to the kind of business the employer is running (so, for example, the FWC does not have to consider arrangements for working in a cool room when considering an office supply company’s agreement even though the award may cover that kind of work). 

Quotes attributable to Greens Leader and Workplace Relations spokesperson, Adam Bandt:

“The Greens strongly back most of what is in this bill, including abolishing the ABCC and multi-employer bargaining, but we wanted to ensure low paid workers wouldn't go backwards because of some of the changes,” Mr Bandt said.

“This is an important win for all workers, especially low paid workers in the retail and the hospitality industries. The Better Off Overall Test has been preserved.”

“Workers will now have an enforceable right to unpaid parental leave and better work/life balance.”

Quotes attributable to Greens Employment Spokesperson, Senator Barbara Pocock:

“Workers in the care sector, so many of them low paid women, need a pay rise. The supported bargaining stream and the new object of gender equality make this more likely in the near future,” Senator Pocock said.

“It's time workplace law caught up with the real lives of Australia’s 5 million working carers, women and men. Our workplace relations system is broken, but we can fix it, and this bill is a good start.”

“Australian workers, especially women, have waited decades for an enforceable right to flexibility that actually works for them. The Greens have secured important changes on flexibility and on unpaid parental leave. These will now be enforceable rights.”

“There is more to do and we will move further amendments in the Senate and continue to fight for greater flexibility and workplace laws that support working carers in the coming months.”