The measure which caused the government so much trouble on the day it unveiled its industrial relations bill was not new, just an adjustment to an exemption Labor included in the Fair Work Act it passed in 2009, when unwinding WorkChoices.
The Labor provision enabled a business in exceptional circumstances and facing “a short-term crisis” to ask the Fair Work Commission to approve an enterprise agreement which was not compliant with the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT), which underpins such agreements.
The government said the exemption could be the difference between a business emerging successfully from the recession or going under. Alex Ellinghausen
Since 2009, about 60,000 enterprise agreements have been inked, of which 21 were given an exemption from the BOOT. At least four of these occurred when Labor was in power.
Just one of the 21 resulted in a lowering of wages.
In the industrial relations omnibus bill released Wednesday, Labor’s exemption was amended so businesses specifically affected by the coronavirus pandemic could apply for such agreements.

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