Coronavirus: Call for special award for small business

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell will say the government should provide small business with a special industrial award. Picture: Kym Smith
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell will say the government should provide small business with a special industrial award. Picture: Kym Smith

Small business and family enterprise ombudsman Kate Carnell will call on the Morrison government to carve out a small business industrial award from the Fair Work Act to ensure employers have the flexibility they need to help drive the post-COVID economic recovery.

Ms Carnell will join Council of Small Business Organisations Australia chief executive Peter Strong at the National Press Club on Wednesday to press the case for policy measures that will help SMEs “hire and thrive” in the coming months and years.

“The challenge for the government is to carve out a system that supports the small business sector to deliver the growth in jobs that is essential to our economic recovery,” Ms Carnell will say.

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“A Small Business Award would be simpler than existing awards and available to all small businesses on an opt-in basis. It would cover all staff, irrespective of their different duties, and would also include a ‘permaflexi’ classification.”

Ms Carnell will say she supports Josh Frydenberg’s push for industrial relations changes allowing employers who fall off JobKeeper to retain the ability to change duties, hours and the ­location of staff.

“Right now, in the midst of COVID, small businesses are facing enormous challenges and ­uncertainty. If they don’t have flexibility and confidence in the system, they won’t employ.”

Ms Carnell will quote statistics showing nearly four in 10 small businesses are owned and operated by women, to argue in favour of making childcare more tax-­effective or by phasing in an ­expanded subsidy scheme.

“Childcare is an essential service for parents in small business and it needs to be affordable.”

Mr Strong will argue in favour of deregulation and the removal of the payroll tax, as well as a plan to boost local manufacturing.

“We must confront the value-adding capacity of Australia,” Mr Strong will say.

“We export rare earths — we must add value to our own ore and more value to our agricultural products.

“It is not good enough that we rely upon other nations for our health materials. We need to be self-sufficient in PPE and other health products. That means we need support for industry.”

Ms Carnell will also advocate again in favour of legislation requiring that small businesses be paid in 30 days.

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