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Your guide to the Closing Loopholes Bill

November 8, 2023

From the National Legal Director

Our Union has been working for over a decade to end the labour hire rort in mining. The Closing Loopholes Bill currently before the Senate is our opportunity. Here’s what’s in the Bill and why it must be passed.

Our Union has given evidence at two Senate hearings. I appeared in the Perth hearing and Queensland Senior Vice President Mitch Hughes and four members appeared in Rockhampton to tell Senators about their experiences and why we urgently need their support to pass the Bill.

On the latest episode of the Mining and Energy podcast, I talked to presenter Tim Brunero about what’s in the Bill, what lies the mining companies are telling and what the process is for the Bill to become law.

Listen to the podcast here:

Here are the key elements of the Bill:

Closing the Labour Hire Loophole

The Bill aims to ensure that Same Job Same Pay is introduced, and labour hire workers are paid the same as other employees. This follows years of our Union advocating for Same Job Same Pay laws for labour hire workers in the mining industry.

At a worksite where an Enterprise Agreement is in place covering direct employees, the Bill allows for applications to be made to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for an order that labour hire employees must be paid at least what they would receive under a host’s EA. If the FWC determines labour hire workers are performing the same work as direct EA employees, it would make an order setting a ‘Protected Rate of Pay’. This is the minimum rate for work that can be paid at the site, if work of that type is covered by an EA.

Ending the Permanent Casual Rort

The Bill also attempts to end the permanent causal rort by introducing a fairer definition of ‘casual’ and a more comprehensive pathway to permanent employment. The definition of casual would be amended to consider the practical reality of what is going on in the workplace, not just what was in the employment contract on day one.

Other important measures

The Bill will also strengthen rights for union delegates to perform their role in the workplace, including reasonable access to paid time for training. This will ensure that workers have reasonable access to effective representation in addressing safety and compliance issues, helping them to understand and enforce their workplace rights.

The Bill includes several other major reforms, including establishing criminal penalties for intentional wage theft by employers and introducing minimum standards for workers in the gig economy.

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Adam Walkaden is the National Legal Director of the Mining and Energy Union

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