Crossbench Senators Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock are today tabling four private senators’ bills in a bid to fast track additional protections for workers.
With only four scheduled sitting weeks remaining for the year, the Senators are urging the Government, Coalition and their crossbench colleagues to pass the four measures now so workers aren’t having to wait until next year for straightforward additional protections.
“These changes are urgent and I would love to see the parliament put politics aside and get behind some really straightforward measures to benefit workers rather than making them wait,” Senator Pocock said.
“We’re witnessing a really distressing increase in the incidence of family and domestic violence. We’re also seeing an escalation in business insolvencies which in August were up 32% on the same period last year. We’re seeing governments drag their heels on a silica safety ban and on implementing the full suite of recommendations in the 2019 senate inquiry into the mental health of our first responders.
“We have to get on with delivering what added protections we can now, while we work through the also important but more complex elements of the Closing Loopholes omnibus bill.”
Senator Lambie said calls to pass the bill in its entirety this year would lead to bad outcomes and unintended consequences.
“David and I are taking a sensible approach to dealing with this beast of a bill that will have broad ranging impacts right across the economy,” Senator Lambie said.
“If the Government is serious about doing the right thing by workers - from our first responders who put their lives on the line everyday to those experiencing family and domestic violence they would get behind our private Senators’ bills.
The four private senators’ bills bring forward four sections of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 as follows:
Fair Work Legislation Amendment (First Responders) Bill 2023
- This Bill requires the insurers of first responders in the Commonwealth and ACT jurisdictions to presume that PTSD was caused by a first responder’s job, unless the insurer can establish otherwise.
Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency) Bill 2023
- This Bill gives workers the right to safe and healthy workplaces by expanding the current remit of the Asbestos Safety Eradication Agency (ASEA) to include prevention of silica-related diseases.
Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Protections Against Discrimination) Bill 2023
- This Bill would prevent employers from discriminating against people that are being subjected to family and domestic violence by making it a protected attribute under the Fair Work Act 2009.
Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Small Business Redundancy Exemption) Bill 2023
- When a larger business incrementally downsizes due to insolvency, either in the period leading to liquidation or bankruptcy, or afterwards, it is not uncommon for them to fall below the 15-employee threshold and technically become a small business. This means that the last employees of a large business that has become insolvent will not receive a redundancy payment. This bill provides an exception to the operation of the small business redundancy exemption in the context of large businesses that are bankrupt or in liquidation to stop employees missing out on their redundancy payments.