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Govt under fire over rights of JobKeeper firms to alter worker conditions


Labor has railed against a push to give almost one million employers the permanent right to change workers’ conditions.

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The Morrison government wants to give the 960,000 companies using JobKeeper wage subsidies the right to vary hours, duties and job location.

“The feedback from businesses is that’s been a really important part of the recovery, having that flexibility,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Sky News on Friday.

“We would like to see those reforms become a very important feature of our economic recovery.”

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles accused the government of trying to diminish workplace security and questioned the coalition’s strategy to create and build jobs.

“Attacking job security ain’t a strategy for that,”  Marles told the Nine Network.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the provisions would be needed more than ever when businesses lose access to wage supports.

“Just because a business is no longer eligible for JobKeeper does not mean that it is not struggling,” he said.

“The short-term provisions in the Fair Work Act are providing vital flexibility to employers and saving the jobs of many thousands of employees.”

He said it was essential to continue the emergency powers for the life of the extended JobKeeper program, which will go on at reduced rates between September and March.

Business Council chief Jennifer Westacott said workers should be protected, but not giving companies the best chance to get back up and running would only deliver insecure work.

“We want to make sure that people are in work that is secure,” she told the ABC.

“But we also have to get the flexibility into the system so that companies can respond to what’s happening at the moment.”


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