The minister said “loaded rates” or “exemption rates” would reduce businesses’ administration burden and deal with concerns about award complexity creating risks of underpayment.
Classifications would also be “substantially” reduced under the proposal by a “broad-banding exercise with no reductions in pay and minimal increases in pay accompanied by greater variety and higher value work”.
Employees would then be able to “opt in” to the loaded rates and new classifications, and opt out with notice.
“While ultimately any design of loaded rates would be up to the discretion of the commission, it is the government’s view that these rates may be optimally structured in a way that ensures workers are not financially worse off over time,” Mr Porter said.
He said the changes should be made as speedily as possible, preferably no later than March 31.
Mr Porter told reporters on Wednesday that “all of the business groups told us that [the loaded rates] would actually make a big difference to the efficiency of their business”.
“And there was no massive objection from the union movement, it appeared to me at least, about the Fair Work Commission trying to design loaded rates for those key awards in a short period of time.”
Bunnings managing director Mike Schneider highlighted the loaded rates and award simplification as providing “much-needed clarity” that would help streamline the approval of enterprise agreements in comparison to the award.
The hardware giant withdrew its new agreement covering about 37,000 employees this year after waiting almost 12 months for it to be approved and dealing with issues about a small number workers being worse off based on certain rosters.
“While were yet to review the legislation in detail, the proposed changes should provide for a more workable system that allows businesses to pursue new agreements that improve team member entitlements,” Mr Schneider said.
“Some of the revisions would be helpful in overcoming some of the challenges weve faced in the past, including the requirement for the Commission to consider realistic and current roster patterns in its assessment.”

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