The Launceston Chamber of Commerce has provided a submission to the Productivity Commission’s Workplace Regulation Framework Review that closed for initial submissions on Friday 13 March 2015.

The Chamber provided evidence and details of 84 business responses to a survey distributed to encourage businesses to provide specific advice on their views that would assist the Productivity Commission in their deliberations.

The Chamber’s points to the Commission were as follows:

  • Tasmania is a small economy with an aging population. Tasmania is also the only state where the population is set to decline during the period 2012 to 2061 according to projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 
  • Businesses argue that flexibility is required to attract and retain skilled workers. If government consider reducing Penalty Rates in some or all sectors, there needs to be a countering opportunity to incentivise skilled people to work at times when they are needed, and meet the needs of that business/clientele. 
  • Northern Tasmanian businesses indicated that a lower wage threshold for young people is required so there is more flexibility to employ inexperienced young people on weekends and on a casual basis so they can develop their skills and gain fulltime employment.
  • There is an opportunity to investigate greater flexibility for employees working from home (and minimum work shifts).
  • The survey also includes concerns from employers regarding the need for more equitable processes to discontinue employment based on performance issues or job suitability.
  • The industry sectors that have been identified for growth in Northern Tasmania include: Hospitality and Tourism; Agriculture; and Health Services.  All these sectors require flexibility of working hours; they also have times of peak demand and seasonality.   These sectors again require the flexibility to offer incentives, and offer reasonable casual rates during peak times.

 

Some of the Key Results from the Survey are as follows:

  • The majority of responses (62%) were from the retail and hospitality sectors (I would suggest due to the awareness and impact of penalty rates in those sectors).
  • Interestingly other major organisations with issues around penalty rates included those in the health care sector which are required to operated 24/7 and use casual workers to meet peak demand.
  • The majority (52%) responded from the CBD – and the remainder were distributed throughout the rest of the region.
  • 80% of the firms responding operate on Weekends and/or Public Holidays – (however it was noted that doesn’t necessarily mean they work all available hours during these periods. It may just be Saturday mornings for example.)
  • If penalty rates were either significantly reduced or abolished the firms that responded indicated there would be an additional 2094 work hours per week available – equivalent to 55 FTEs.
  • If the responses are extrapolated for the retail and Hospitality sectors only, and multiply this by the number of firms in this sector within our region - this would equate to an additional 943 FTE jobs in our region.  This reflects a significant increase in two major sectors that currently deliver approximately 10,400 jobs to our region.*
  • 71 respondents indicated that on average they spend 11 hours per week on ‘red tape’ and compliance issues. For micro businesses of 4 employees or less, they spend over 3 hours per week on compliance.  Take into account this data may be under-estimated as we have not specified how compliance is defined. 
  • 74% of respondents (or 17 of the 23 that responded to this question) have had trouble employing people.  Chefs were mentioned on a number of occasions and other specific skills.