Small business owners in New South Wales should look closely at drafts of 14 new Federal awards covering industries including racing, retail and hospitality, according to the New South Wales Shadow Minister for Small Business, Don Page.

Mr Page said the Commonwealth’s Award Modernisation involves the creation of a number of awards to operate in conjunction with the new Australian workplace relations system.

He said a Full Bench of seven members of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission is drafting the new awards, and is proposing employers with fewer than 15 employees pay redundancies to staff.

“The proposal says this should be capped at eight weeks pay after four years of service,” Mr Page said.

“Whilst the Federal Government has commissioned this Award Modernisation, there are worrying implications for small business owners in New South Wales..

“Previous legislation saw employers with fewer than 15 employees exempt from obligations to provide redundancy pay.

“Small business operators in New South Wales should be aware of this proposal because of its financial implications.

“The draft awards propose small business owners pay between four to eight weeks pay to someone who has been made redundant.

“The amount paid depends on the number of years of continuous service, with a maximum of eight weeks to be paid to people who have been employed for four years or longer.

“The Full Bench is seeking comment from interested parties, with 10 October the closing date for written submissions.

“The Commission will then hold a series of public consultations starting in Sydney on the 16 October.”

Mr Page urged small business owners to read the draft priority awards and submit comments.

“It is relevant that the Deputy Prime Minister and Employment and Workplace Relations Minister, Julia Gillard, says the Federal Government is concerned about the cost impact of such a proposal on small business,” Mr Page said.

“The proposed new awards are to come into effect in 2010.

“It’s difficult enough operating a small business in this economic climate without having to worry about paying employees extra money beyond current legal entitlements.

“Small business owners need to make their voices heard now if they are worried about the prospect of paying redundancy packages to employees.”
More information can be obtained via the Australian Industrial Relations Commission website