Retailers react to new IR laws

Written on the 9 February 2010

IN THE wake of the newly introduced federal industrial relations laws, a recent poll by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) shows that more than 32 per cent of retailers will give employees less hours and almost 36 per cent of retailers will limit hiring new staff.

While those planning on terminating staff are encouragingly low, more alarming is that 83 per cent of retailers are not compliant with the Federal Governments new Fair Work Act.

The results from the ARA industry snap poll of 150 national retailers showed that while 40 per cent of retailers are expecting increases in wage bills and operating costs, less than 17 per cent are fully compliant with the new laws.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman says retailers are doing their best to grapple the new laws and hold on to staff, but more help was needed.

“These are massive changes and it’s crucial the Government recognises the key role employer groups play in getting employers up to speed with the new laws to help them manage increased costs without letting go of staff,” says Zimmerman.

“Currently, over 54 per cent of retailers have made operational changes to comply with the Fair Work Act but over 83 per cent of retailers need to do more before they are fully compliant.”

“Of the 40 per cent of retailers who expect to see wage and operational cost increases as a result of new IR laws, over 42 per cent expect these increases to be between five and 10 per cent.”

With only 12 per cent of respondents planning on shedding staff numbers, Zimmerman says good retailers understand that staff retention is important to both business and the economy.

“When this is compared with 68 per cent of retailers who reported they would let go of employees to cope with new IR laws in March last year, it is clear Fair Work education and information seminars are essential in helping employers manage their new obligations,” says Zimmerman.

“Retailers are now diligently looking at other ways to deal with cost increases as a result of Fair Work.”


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