Bill's Media Releases

Opposition votes against protecting workers’ entitlements

Australian workers affected by the liquidation or bankruptcy of their employer will now have even stronger protections of their entitlements enshrined under law thanks to the Gillard Labor Government’s new legislation which passed the House of Representatives today.

Tony Abbott’s Opposition returned to their anti-worker ways by voting against the legislation and proposing an amendment to reduce entitlements for long serving employees.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, said the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Bill 2012 delivers on the Government’s 2010 election commitment to provide greater certainty for Australian workers if their employer enters liquidation or bankruptcy and cannot pay them the employment entitlements they are owed.

“The Bill reflects the existing protection under the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme of 4 weeks redundancy for every year of service.  However the Coalition proposed an amendment to cap this entitlement at 16 weeks only thereby reducing existing protections for workers in difficult circumstances.

“I am therefore very pleased the Opposition’s amendment was defeated and Australian workers, who have loyally worked for companies for years, will continue to get the protections they deserve now under a statutory scheme.”

“Many of the workers who would have felt the brunt of the Coalition’s amendments are mature aged employees who often find it more difficult to re-enter the workforce compared to their younger counterparts.”

“Employees are often given little to no warning when a company goes under and this is our way of trying to ensure they are not disadvantaged through situations they have no control over.”

“The Gillard Government is proud to introduce this important piece of legislation into the Parliament and we have had tremendous support from a number of stakeholders,” Mr Shorten said.

Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Relations, Senator Jacinta Collins, said the legislation is designed as a safety net scheme to provide for payment of outstanding employee entitlements that would otherwise not be able to be paid.

“This legislation will allow Australian workers to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that they have protections and a scheme they can rely on,” Senator Collins said.

Eligible employees will be covered for unpaid entitlements that are not able to be paid by their employer in an insolvency event including redundancy, annual leave, long service leave, unpaid wages and payment in lieu of notice.

“We have also strengthened eligibility for entitlements where employees continue to work past the appointment of an insolvency practitioner. No longer will there be a gap in entitlements paid,” Senator Collins said.

“As part of the new legislation we also have ensured there is an external review process that will assess each case in a transparent and fair way,” Senator Collins said.

Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Jessica Lindell 0408 642 804

Senator Collins’ Media Contact: Jonathan Davies – 0409 354 493