Shadow IR Minister Brendan O'Connor has questioned whether industry awards are operating as a "decent safety net" any more, signalling that Labor is looking at ways to change the Fair Work Act to ensure negotiations over workers' wages and conditions are conducted "on a level playing field".
The AHA, AAA and Pharmacy Guild have withdrawn their proposals to change the term "penalty rates" to "additional remuneration", ahead of a further hearing tomorrow on the weekend and public holidays penalty rates case.
The Federal Government has sidestepped an "irregular" question from the Fair Work Commission about whether it planned to change the Fair Work Act to enable the tribunal to make take-home pay orders in cases like the landmark penalty rates review.
Business groups have told the FWC that it is prohibited from varying or revoking its decision to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates and have slammed United Voice over its call for the case to be immediately concluded so that it can launch a judicial review.
As the FWC calls for submissions on an employer bid to ditch the term "penalty rates" and replace it with "additional remuneration", a senior union-clientele lawyer is warning of a "slippery slope" if recognition of a need to compensate those working unsociable hours is removed.
The FWC has asked the Turnbull Government to clarify whether it intends to amend the Fair Work Act to enable the tribunal to make take home pay orders to potentially mitigate hardship flowing from its decision to cut hospitality and retail workers' penalty rates, and is seeking further submissions on transitional arrangements.