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Monday, 12 October 2015
Page: 7282

Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (13:43): I oppose schedule 1 and schedule 2 in the following terms:

(2) Schedule 1, Part 1, page 4 (lines 2 to 8), to be opposed.

(3) Schedule 2, item 1, page 29 (lines 15 to 18), clause 2 to be opposed.

Under existing law, an employer is prevented from refusing an employee's request for an extension to unpaid parental leave unless the refusal is based on reasonable grounds. My amendments leave this restraint on employers untouched.

The bill before us seeks to add to this intervention in the managerial decisions of employers. It seeks to prevent an employer from refusing an employee's request for an extension of unpaid parental leave unless the employer has also given the employee a reasonable opportunity to discuss the request. My amendments oppose this additional restraint on managerial decisions in the workplace. The additional restraint on employers in this bill is a recommendation of the Fair Work Act review. However, the Fair Work Act review recommended the additional restraint with next to no explanation after having outlined that there was no problem with the existing provision. This additional restraint on employers would create the possibility of litigation based simply on the inadequacy or absence of a discussion even if an employer's refusal to extend leave were reasonable, and it would increase the bureaucratic meddling in the minutiae of decision making in the workplace. In short, this additional restraint on employers would be change for change's sake. We do not need this incessant and pointless fiddling with the law, and I oppose it.