Media Release: Unemployment Up 0.4% since last January

MEDIA RELEASE: 8 February 2015
Unemployment Up 0.4% since last January

The unemployment rate of 6.4% (s adj) in January is 0.4 percentage point higher than it was in January 2014 as was the unadjusted figure of 6.8%. Moreover, the increase of employment of only 1.6% over the past year continues to fail to keep pace with the growth in the working age population of 1.8%.

Given the slower growth in the economy, which the Reserve Bank expects to slow further in the lead up to the election, it is clear that the regulatory arrangements  (wage awards and other regulations) are pushing unemployment higher.

These developments in the labour market emphasise the need for deregulation of workplace relations and the establishment of a much more flexible market.

Although the growth in wages is now no higher than inflation, Australia’s wages have been growing faster than in developed countries, resulting in reduced competitiveness. While the reduction in the exchange rate will help offset that, that is not the best way of improving competitiveness

Publicity Officer: Des Moore (9867 1235)

Review into Penalty Rates and the Minimum Wage

The WA News reports on some very positive developments:

Penalty rates, the minimum wage and the workplace flexibility of 11.5 million Australian workers will come under the microscope in a sweeping review of the industrial relations system.

In an interview to mark the launch of five issues papers that set out the key areas the inquiry will put under the microscope, Productivity Commission chief Peter Harris has promised the review of Australia’s workplace laws will “bust myths” in the broadest review of IR laws in a generation.

The long-awaited review of Australia’s workplace laws will examine the effect of the minimum wage on employment, how penalty rates are set and what economic effect the loadings have on business and employees.

The issues papers were accidentally published online on Thursday.

The review was meant to be published on the Commission’s website at midnight but went live on the homepage on Thursday morning and was seized on by at least two Labor MPs who tweeted a link to it and broke the embargo.

Enterprise bargaining, individual agreements between employers and employees, unfair dismissal, anti-bullying laws and public sector employment issues will all be examined too.


Employers step up efforts to get rid of penalty rates

The SMH has reported on recent efforts to amend Australia’s job-destroying penalty rates: 

Australian industry is mounting a concerted campaign to wind back and abolish weekend and public holiday penalty rates, particularly in the hospitality sector.

Employer submissions to the Fair Work Commission’s review of minimum wage conditions across the economy filed in the last weeks of the year reveal the hitlist for business groups, which argue they need greater flexibility and lower costs in the face of tough trading conditions.

The commission is reviewing more than 200 awards that provide minimum wage, hours and other conditions. As part of that exercise it is conducting a separate examination of penalty rates that will flow into a number of awards.

The push comes as the federal government has launched a review of industrial relations through the Productivity Commission.

A particular focus is hospitality. The Restaurant & Catering Association used its submission to argue that the late night loading, which gives workers an extra 10 to 15 per cent per hour, should be stripped from the award.

RCA chief executive John Hart said he would also be looking to capitalise on a recent win in another case to push for standardised penalty rates across Saturday and Sunday across the industry.

Read the rest here

REad the rest here

Letter to the Editor: Productivity Commission Review

Judith Sloan draws attention to the regrettable absence from the review of workplace relations by the Productivity Commission of any “specific reference to examining individual contracting and the restrictions that arise from the present framework”.  Indeed, the terms of reference are bereft of any overall indication of what the review’s framework objective might be and imply that all that might be needed is to adjust the existing Fair Work arrangements.

The HR Nicholls Society will certainly be submitting that in a modern society there is no intrinsic imbalance in bargaining power between employers and employees and that the regulation of workplace relations should be minimal. That is in the interests of both employers and employees and would establish a competitive framework which would increase employment.

It is regrettable that the terms of reference have been constructed without consultation with a body which has extensive experience in workplace relations.

Yours faithfully

Des Moore,
Publicity Officer,
HR Nicholls Society

Australian Tour of International Labour Market Expert Prof Bernd Fitzenberger

The HR Nicholls Society would like to warmly invite you to participate in the Australian Tour of Professor Bernd Fitzenberger of Freiburg University, one of the world’s leading labour market experts, on “Labour Relations for a Resilient Economy”.

Professor Fitzenberger will be speaking in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth on the German model for labour relations, and its contribution to German competitiveness and employment in the last decade.

The HR Nicholls Society presents this speaking tour as a contribution to the reform of Australia’s system of labour relations.

Professor Fitzenberger is Full Professor for Statistics and Econometrics at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg.  His areas of study include trends in wage inequality, trade unions and coverage and evaluation of labour market programs. He is co-editor of the Journal for Labour Market Research.

Professor Fitzenberger’s academic work contends that regional flexibility in labour markets was key to the German economy being able to weather the global financial crisis better than other economies in the European Union.

The society believes Professor Fitzenberger’s addresses will attract interest from government, industry and industrial relations practitioners. The society’s object is to bring new and practical perspectives to debate about Australia’s labour relations.

Professor Fitzenberger will be speaking as follows – and numbers are strictly limited, so please book now to secure your spot: Read more

Sacked for being drunk at work? Win $300,000 in damages!

Via Workplace express (paywall protected):

A state manager sacked for being drunk at a staff training conference the morning after a work-related function has won $296,650 in damages, after a court took into account his company’s approach to drinking in finding his behaviour did not amount to gross misconduct.

NSW District Court Judge Philip Taylor accepted the Willis Australia Group Services Pty Ltd manager was “at least to some extent” drunk when he arrived at the conference — his “workplace at the time” — at 9am after drinking into the early hours and sleeping on a bench near his hotel door because he couldn’t find his key.

The judge also accepted he smelt of alcohol, spoke loudly, “lacked seriousness”, threw a lolly and made “animal noises”, though as a “means of conveying information about a recent safari”.

But the judge said while the insurance company had proved the manager’s misconduct, it had not proved gross misconduct.

“A proper reading of the contract of employment, including the Willis policies, read in the context of Willis practices in relation to alcohol, indicates that intoxication at work, of itself, is not sufficient to warrant summary dismissal for a gross misconduct,” the judge said.

AGM Adjourned Until December 11

The 2014 HR Nicholls Society Annual General Meeting has been adjourned until:

TIME: 5:30pm
DATE: Thursday 11 December
ADDRESS: Level 10, 607 Bourke St Melbourne (SW corner with King St)

Please click HERE  to download the agenda, and we hope all members will be able to join

HR Nicholls Annual Dinner Report

The HR Nicholls Society successfully held its Annual Dinner on the 24th of November, with keynote speaker Stephen Sasse.

Workplace Express provided the following coverage of the event($):

Adopt Victorian code nationally, says IR consultant

A lack of managerial capacity is to blame for the huge cost blowouts on major publicly-funded infrastructure projects such as the Wonthaggi desalination plant and Melbourne’s Spencer St Station upgrade, and could have been prevented if the current Victorian construction code was in place, according to IR consultant Stephen Sasse.


Sasse told the HR Nicholls Society’s annual dinner in Melbourne last night that the Victorian code, which established a new benchmark that should be adopted by all state and federal governments, “is designed solely to modify contractors’ behaviours”.


“It exists to protect the short and long term interests of taxpayers by forcing contractors to take some responsibility for the effective management of labour productivity and labour costs” and ensure value for money.

He said the Victorian code is “designed to counteract the moral hazard that contractors may have a vested interest in de facto collusion on labour costs and productivity” while ensuring “that unacceptable industrial behaviour meets with appropriate consequences”. Read more