Deal struck on Labor’s same job, same pay laws

Employment Minister Tony Burke announced a deal with crossbenchers to pass some reforms this year.

Employment Minister Tony Burke announced a deal with crossbenchers to pass some reforms this year. Photo: AAP

Labor has struck a deal with the cross bench to split its industrial relations reform in two parts, enabling extra protections for workers to pass before the end of the year.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke on Thursday announced the government had secured the support of crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock to support key parts of the “closing loopholes” legislation.

He said the existing bill will be divided into two, with measures not being supported on Thursday to be looked at next year.

“I’m even more optimistic about those remaining provisions because of … the goodwill and good intentions of the cross bench,” Mr Burke said.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said his party would support the legislation after the government agreed to criminalise underpayment of superannuation.

“(We) would have liked to have seen more protections for casual and gig workers before Christmas, but there’s some important wins in this bill,” he said.

Under the agreement, emergency services personnel will be able to more easily claim compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder, with the process fast-tracked.

The government will boost funding for the small business advisory service in the Fair Work Ombudsman, and will review the Comcare scheme to help workers injured on the job.

This will cover ambulance officers, emergency services communications operators, firefighters, the Australian Border Force and Australian Federal Police.

Greater protections will be included to stop people experiencing family and domestic violence from being discriminated against at work.

The functions of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency will be expanded to include silica dust.

Companies will be stopped from underpaying workers through the use of labour hire.


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