House debates

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Bills

Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013; Consideration in Detail

3:19 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move amendments (1) to (7) on sheet 1A together:

(1) Schedule 1, page 8 (after line 5), after item 16, insert:

16A Subsection 55(3)

  After "subsection (2)", insert ", except as provided in section 56A".

(2) Schedule 1, page 8, after proposed item 16A, insert:

16B After section 56

  Insert:

56A Flexible working arrangements: no contracting out of enterprise agreements

     None of the following has any effect to the extent that it would be inconsistent with an enterprise agreement:

  (a) an arrangement or agreement made as a result of a request under section 65 (which deals with requests for flexible working arrangements);

  (b) a decision of the FWC of the kind referred to in subsection 598(1) in relation to a dispute about the operation of Division 4 of Part 2-2 (which deals with requests for flexible working arrangements);

  (c) any other exercise of a power of the FWC, including an outcome of a process carried out in accordance with subsection 595(2) (which deals with the FWC's power to deal with disputes otherwise than by arbitration), in relation to a dispute about the operation of Division 4 of Part 2-2.

(3) Schedule 1, Part 3, page 9 (after line 27), at the end of the Part, add:

18A After section 65

  Insert:

65A FWC may deal with a dispute about the operation of this Division

(1) The FWC may deal with a dispute about the operation of this Division (including a dispute about whether a refusal of a request under section 65 is on reasonable business grounds).

(2) The FWC may deal with the dispute by arbitration.

Note: The FWC may also deal with a dispute by mediation or conciliation, or by making a recommendation or expressing an opinion (see subsection 595(2)).

(3) The FWC may deal with the dispute only on application by any of the following:

  (a) an employee who has made a request under section 65;

  (b) an employee organisation that is entitled to represent the industrial interests of an employee referred to in paragraph (a).

(4) Schedule 1, Part 3, at the end of the Part, add (after proposed item 18A):

18B Section 146 (note)

  Omit "65(5) or".

(5) Schedule 1, Part 3, at the end of the Part, add (after proposed item 18B):

18C Subsection 186(6) (notes 1 and 2)

  Omit "65(5) or".

(6) Schedule 1, Part 3, at the end of the Part, add (after proposed item 18C):

18D Subsection 739(2)

  Omit "65(5) or".

18E Subsection 739(2) (note)

  Omit "65(5) or".

(7) Schedule 1, Part 3, at the end of the Part, add (after proposed item 18E):

18F Subsection 740(2)

  Omit "65(5) or".

18G Subsection 740(2) (note)

  Omit "65(5) or".

Very briefly, I spoke to these amendments during my contribution in the second reading debate. These are simple amendments that would extend and provide a means for enforcing the right that people have under the Fair Work Act to request flexible working arrangements. These amendments would in situations where an employer unreasonably refuses that right allow the employee to take the matter to the Fair Work Commission, where they would be able to balance the needs of the employer, including the operational requirements of the employer, and the legitimate needs of the employee. This is important. It is important that the right to request these arrangements has teeth, otherwise it amounts to little more than a right to have a conversation. That would be the state that the bill would be in if we did not pass these amendments. I think these amendments would have broad support in the community. People are increasingly struggling to balance their work and life arrangements. I commend the amendments to the House.

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