Retailers urge Senate to pass Omnibus Bill

The National Retail Association (NRA) urges the Senate to pass the Morrison Government’s industrial relations reforms without delay.

In a member impact survey undertaken between 8 and 15 March 2021, NRA members overwhelmingly supported the need for change.

The need for certainty around casual employment featured heavily, with casual employment being a common feature in almost all of NRA’s members operating under the Retail Award.

80% of those retailers said that the primary reason that they engaged casual employees, rather than permanent employees, was because of the need for flexibility around work hours.

More tellingly, 52.5% of retailers said that if award conditions were more flexible, they would definitely employ more staff on a part-time basis rather than a casual basis, while 35% said that they would at least consider it. Only 12.5% said that they would stick to casual employment even if award conditions changed.

In this environment, the prospect of further delay to much-needed reforms due to the Senate cross-bench is causing consternation for employers.

“Our members are calling out for change,” said NRA Deputy CEO Lindsay Carroll.

“Although the retail sector is often criticized for the scale of casual employment, we see from our members a clear desire for a workable departure from this paradigm.”

An application by the retail union, the Shop, Distributive, and Allied Employee’s Association (SDA) to introduce separate flexible part-time provisions directly into the Retail Award is due to be heard by the Fair Work Commission tomorrow.

“This is a rare circumstance where both employer groups and unions agree that change is needed,” said Ms Carroll. “Both unions and employer groups have called for the passage of various flexibilities in the legislation.”

“This should send a clear message to the cross-bench that undue delay is not in the interests of any side of the industrial divide.”