Secure Jobs Better Pay Bill: What you need to know

Australia urgently needs a pay rise

A worker on average wages has not seen their pay grow in real terms for more than a decade.

In fact, over the past twelve months it has gone backwards rapidly. In real terms, that worker is at least
$3,000 worse off today, than a year ago. This is the biggest fall on record.

It is not because of low productivity growth

Productivity has grown at twice the rate of real wages since 2000.

If workers’ wages had kept up
with productivity growth over the past decade, the average worker would be more than $10,000 better off today.

It is not because of a lack of national wealth

The economy grew by a healthy 3.9% in the past year. But the share of GDP going to wages is at an all-time low of just 44%.

13 million working Australians are contributing to our national wealth but aren’t receiving their fair share of it.

It’s not because of low company profits

In the past financial year, company profits are up by 28.5%, and the pay of the top 100 CEOs, by 41.6%.

Record high profits are not only being recorded by Australian businesses, but are also contributing to the worsening cost-of-living crisis and inflation.


The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill will boost pay by almost $1500

According to modelling from the Centre for Future Work, the Government’s proposed laws will boost wage growth

Read the full report

The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill will provide a boost to stagnant wage growth by supporting higher coverage for collective bargaining.

Annual full-time earnings for a worker with average full-time wages will increase by $1,473 after just one year.

Send a message to the Senate

The Senate will decide whether the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill becomes law.

Send your senator a message today to let them know you support improved work laws.


Main features of the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill

The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill 2022 is an important step to getting wages moving again in this country.

Here are some of the major features of the Bill.

Help close the Gender Pay Gap

Women earn on average $472 less a week than a man – a gap that has stagnated and recently gotten worse.

The Bill will address this by making it easier to collectively bargain – a proven solution to reducing the pay gap.

It will also strengthen our equal pay laws, ban the employer practice of pay secrecy, and establish expert panels, better suited to addressing cases on equal pay and in the care and community sectors where women’s work has been undervalued.

Help prevent sexual harassment and discrimination at work

Two in five women have experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years.

This Bill will deliver the final legislative recommendations from the [email protected] report, meaning workers will have proper protection from sexual harassment under industrial relations laws.

Allow carers, and especially women, to work more flexibly

People juggling care and work, have no meaningful right to require their employer to help them balance those responsibilities.

The Bill seeks to address this by requiring employers to try to reach agreement with workers, and by giving workers a right of review in the Fair Work Commission when requests are refused.

Begin to give people more job security

In Australia, there is nothing to stop an employer from endlessly rolling over fixed term contracts, and many do.

More than 100 countries in the world place some restrictions on the use of fixed term contracts. This Bill would make Australia one of them.

Prevent employers terminating agreements to undermine fair negotiations

An employer can easily undermine the bargaining strength of employees by threatening to terminate their enterprise agreement – exploiting a loophole in the current Fair Work Act.

The Bill will close that loophole and bring back fairness to the bargaining process.

Make multi-employer bargaining work properly

Collective bargaining should be able to fairly lift wages, but the current system is broken.

Firstly, at its most fundamental level, many employees are locked out of the bargaining system.

Secondly, even if workers can bargain, the system is so out of balance that workers have almost no leverage in the bargaining process.

Thirdly, the bargaining process within the Fair Work Act is full of red tape. That’s why the multi-employer
bargaining streams in the Fair Work Act are almost never used.

The Bill makes a series of modest changes to make those multi-employer bargaining streams workable, particularly for lower paid workers who are mostly women.

Begin to tackle wage theft

Wage theft is endemic in Australia. The Bill begins to address this issue by making it easier to use the small claims process and banning jobs ads that advertise wages below the legal minimum.

A good start.

Bring fairness back to industry regulation

The Government is committed to abolishing the highly politicised Australian Building and Construction Commission and Registered Organisations Commission.

This Bill would ensure that the building and construction industry is now regulated like any other industry.


Myths about the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill

There are a lot of myths and misinformation about the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill, many of which are spread by big business lobby groups and the commentators and politicians who support big business interests.

Myth 1: These changes will cost jobs

Employers always claim this, and it is never true.
In fact, a huge threat to the economy and jobs is workers not having money to spend, because of the cost-of-living crisis. That is why Treasury has just downgraded its growth forecasts.

If these changes help workers to get paid more, that will also be a boost to the businesses where they shop at and our economy.

Also remember, unemployment is at a record low, and real wages cuts are at a record high.

Myth 2: Back to the 1970s

Our economy, work, workplaces and union density are completely different now compared to the 1970s. We had a closed economy, centralised wage fixing and 60% union density. This Bill does not even attempt to bring back those settings.

Employer talk of a “return to the 1970s” is a desperate scare campaign to avoid addressing the problem of how to get wages moving.

Employer groups have put forward no real solutions that would deliver fair pay rises despite over six months of extensive discussions over the last two years.

Myth 3: This is just a union power grab

The Bill’s focus is on workers, including their rights to bargain and their rights to gender equity.

Unions are democratic organisations representing the workers who join them.

That’s why agreements where workers are represented by unions deliver, on average, higher pay rises than non-union agreements.

Myth 4: More strikes

Strikes are always a last resort for workers – not least because they don’t get paid.

Industrial action isn’t just about strikes – it could be not wearing your uniform, or not working overtime. Industrial action is not just taken by workers or caused by them.

Improved rights to industrial action can help parties reach agreement, even without action being taken.


What can you do?

Join your union

Union members are taking action to ensure that Australia’s work laws are modernised, so that we can get wages moving again and restore job security.

Join with almost 2 million workers today.

Send a message to the Senate

The Senate will decide whether the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill becomes law.

Send your senator a message today to let them know you support improved work laws.

Chip in

Already a union member? You can chip in to support our campaign for decent wages and secure jobs with a donation.

Your donation will go towards our campaign for improved work laws.


Latest Rights at Work articles and news