Now that the election is on the horizon, Julia Gillard is actively pursuing wedge issues that may help Labor to reduce the rout. One area she has decided to go for is industrial relations, in which she has made it clear she intends to exploit in a big way.
Unfortunately for employers, she has done the math and understands that they are well and truly outnumbered by employees and with the way democracy works in Australia, she feels this gives her carte blanch to make rules that give employees ‘a better deal’ regardless of the cost. The first cab off the rank is making flexible rosters for new parents compulsory:
THE Gillard government will legislate soon to make it harder for employers to refuse to allow new parents the right to work part time. …
… “Modern families can find it very difficult to balance the demands of work and the demands of caring for kids and sometimes the demands of caring for older relatives too,” she said. “We want to make sure our workplace relations system is helping take some of the burden off modern families.
“One of the ways we will do that is by extending the right to request flexible and part-time work to mums who are returning from maternity leave, and indeed to dads who are returning from caring for children too.”
Parents making the transition back to work would be able to request flexible and part-time work. “Their employer will have to respond to that request,” Ms Gillard said. “We already have, as part of our 10 national employment standards, a right to request. This is an extension to that right.”
There is already no real encumbrance to employees requesting changes to rosters and other aspects of their employment as things stand. Most employers are usually willing to consider such requests if they are reasonable, workable, and not likely to disrupt production.
To make changes which introduce compulsion into the equation is counterproductive, in that it will make employment of people of childbearing age a more expensive proposition. The unintended consequence to this is of course, that it will be great for older workers.
Workplaces are subject to a certain amount of give and take, and should be left alone.