Almost one million businesses could get permanent powers to change workers’ hours, duties and location under Morrison government industrial relations reforms.
The coronavirus pandemic sparked emergency measures allowing bosses increased flexibility to change workplace conditions.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg believes the 960,000 businesses accessing JobKeeper wage subsidies should have the powers permanently.
“Those flexibilities that apply to the employer and give them the ability to change duties, to change hours and to change the location of staff, should be continued,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the case had not been made for recovered businesses to retain measures designed for the crisis.
“The arrangements, which were struck in the depth of this crisis, were for businesses who were enduring an especially deep downturn,” the Labor frontbencher told reporters in Canberra.
“Our worry is that the government is now using this crisis as an excuse for more enduring, more detrimental changes to the way workers are treated.”
Changes to the Fair Work Act are slated to end on September 28 when the initial phase of JobKeeper wraps up.
The number of businesses on JobKeeper is expected to shrink when two eligibility tests are applied at the end of September and December.
But Mr Frydenberg is pushing for all businesses who accessed the scheme since its inception to get the powers on a permanent basis.
“The first cab off the rank will be labour market flexibility and a continuation of the industrial relations reforms that accompanied the JobKeeper introduction,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned jobs will be lost without increased flexibility for employers.
The government, employer groups and unions are involved in five working groups looking at various industrial relations reforms.
Mr Frydenberg said Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter would pursue flexibility arrangements.
“It is reasonable that if you were previously working in sales in the showroom but your shop has closed, your employer can ask you to help in the warehouse with the stocking,” the treasurer said.