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Fair Work Bill counts people out of a job.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009 Printer Friendly Version

Source: Senator Barnaby Joyce

The problem with numbers is this. If you say that a headcount of 15 workers means you are exempt from unfair dismissal laws and 16 means that you are in, then obviously there is a disincentive to employ worker number 16 as you will then be exposed for all workers in regard to unfair dismissal laws said Senator Barnaby Joyce, the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.

“A disincentive to employ people in the middle of a recession is a paradox if you want to keep people employed,” he said. “There is unfortunately a trade-off between unfair dismissal laws and not even having the right to be dismissed because you never had a job. I believe that a small business is defined not so much by numbers but by the relationship between the employee and the employer.

“Both Labor and the Coalition believe that small business should be exempt from unfair dismissal laws so let’s put aside that we don’t believe some sections of the economy need to be exempt. The debate is what is the definition of a small business. National Party senators believe a small business is one where the employer is the owner and the human resources manager of that business. That same individual is also in a day-to-day visible engagement in the workplace with their employees.

“Once you have an intermediary between the owner and the employees, such as a HR manager, then obviously that business has the mechanism to go through a more protracted form of dismissal if required. It is also a reality that at times dismissals happen. If only the world was perfect, but it is not.

“It is understandable that if you have too obscure a definition of small business then you will spend your time in court arguing about whether the legislation has effect. For unfair dismissal, 100 full-time equivalents is too many, 15 too few. The Australian Bureau of Statistics says a small business has 20, the International Labour Organisation says 50. For this legislation I would suggest we closely

investigate numbers between 20 and 50.”

Media contact: Margot Date 0428 196 340


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