COVID RECOVERY A KEY PRIORITY FOR FCA
Supporting FCA members on the road to COVID recovery is a key priority for the Franchise Council of Australia in 2021, and industrial relations reform is a critical element of this. For the most part, the Federal Government’s industrial relations package offers a practical and modest set of reforms.
The bill – called the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 has been referred to the Senate Employment and Education Legislation Committee for review, and the FCA has made a submission to the committee.
The FCA emphasised that the majority of both franchisors and franchisees are small to medium businesses that provide significant employment and stimulate economic activity throughout Australia and will have a major role in contributing to the nation’s economic recovery.
Industrial relations is a major pressure point for small and medium businesses. Where small businesses survive and thrive, they are a source of employment and economic activity, and play a leading role in supporting local communities, particularly in regional Australia.
Conversely, where over regulation, rigidity and impracticality impede a business’ ability to adapt and survive, everyone stands to lose.
The impact of COVID-19 on Australian businesses has highlighted how close many small and medium enterprises hover between a point of viability and failure.
The current economic situation provides an opportunity to shift the paradigm on how industrial relations is debated and regulated and move away from the predictable and polarising approach that industrial relations is a zero-sum exercise where either business or workers win or lose.
The proposals are sensible and balanced but are, however, very modest and there remains significant scope for real modernisation and improvement in the industrial relations system.
The introduction of the JobKeeper flexibility amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 in 2020 in response to the impact of COVID-19, as well as the efficient and practical temporary changes made to Modern Awards by the Fair Work Commission last year, acknowledge implicitly, if not expressly, that the current balance in the industrial relations system is tipped too far towards rigidity and prescription rather than agility and co-operation.
The FCA strongly supports any moves towards sensible reform and hopes the submission constructively contributes to industrial relations reforms that are fair and equitable for those who work in enterprises, as well as to the business proprietors who, through significant personal efforts and taking on significant economic risk, create and run the businesses which provide that employment.
The Recovery Bill is an important first step towards promoting a more balanced system that allows enterprises to be agile to changing circumstances and demands.
Mary Aldred is the CEO of the Franchise Council of Australia, the peak body for the nation’s $184 billion franchise sector.
Mary commenced in the role in April 2018, bringing with her extensive experience across government, industry and the corporate sectors. As CEO, Mary has led the FCA in developing and delivering strategic priorities to strengthen the FCA’s role as an effective peak business organisation and advocate for a compliant, sustainable and profitable franchise sector.
Franchise Council of Australia
Phone: 03 9508 0888