I am watching, reading and listening to the stories about the Federal Government’s proposed workplace changes and wondering about the impact on the employer / employee relationship. To make their case the unions paint employers as bad guys. To make their case the employers paint the current system as bad for business. The government says nothing (much) changes. The opposition says the world as we know it will end.

Caught in the middle of this are workplace relationships, especially in small business where employers and employees are close, friends even. Are the advertisements getting traction with either side? Are we more suspicious of each other since the campaigns started.

I’m not keen on the changes. While I think the current unfair dismissal laws are open to abuse (I know of employers who have settled for $5,000 rather than spend $10,000 on a case) I don’t see a need to legislate away basic rights which employees have come to enjoy. I appreciate that retail is now a 24/7 business (almost) however, I still see no reason to wind back employment terms as forecast.

I suspect the winners of the proposed legislation, if passed, will be big business. I would expect than many small businesses like mine will not alter current arrangements which have served the business and the employees well.

The legislation seeks to serve a one size fits all world. I am more interested in a cooperative arrangement which does not rely on legislative and contractual change for support.

I wish the government was spending its resources on measuring the social responsibility of business and obliging us to do more for the environment and the community. This would deliver greater economic benefit than these workplace changes.

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