Albanese makes major job security promises

·2-min read

Anthony Albanese has promised to enshrine job security in workplace law under a plan to make the industrial umpire shore up employment.

The opposition leader on Wednesday outlined a range of industrial relations policies aimed at slashing the burden of insecure work for millions of people.

An elected Labor government would insert job security into the Fair Work Act, forcing the Fair Work Commission to factor the issue into decisions.

Mr Albanese's major policy speech tried to redraw election battlelines to focus on competing visions for Australia rather than a referendum on the pandemic.

"What we're proposing is to have basic conditions that Australians know and understand they deserve - minimum rates and decent things like leave and other things that Australian workers take for granted," he told reporters in Brisbane.

Mr Albanese wants to boost rights for gig economy workers like delivery app drivers after five road deaths in three months last year.

The commission would be armed with powers to guarantee minimum standards in pay, superannuation, bargaining rights and access to unfair dismissal claims.

Workers in insecure industries including disability care would be afforded portable annual, sick and long service leave.

Mr Albanese is also eyeing a crackdown on back-to-back short-term contracts for the same role.

He proposes a cap of 24 months or no more than two consecutive contracts, whichever comes first.

Once that limit is reached, an employer would be required to offer a permanent part-time or full-time job.

With Morrison government legislation defining casual employment before parliament, Labor is promising to create a test to determine employment status.

In a revival of a 2019 election policy, Mr Albanese also committed to changing workplace law to ensure labour-hire workers are paid the same as their directly employed counterparts.

Labor has also reaffirmed its pledge to abolish the "union-busting" Registered Organisations Commission and Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The rise of outsourcing and short-term contracts in the federal public service will be audited and steps taken to boost the number of secure roles.

Government contracts to companies and organisations would also be forced to offer more secure jobs.

Mr Albanese warned Prime Minister Scott Morrison of a "heavyweight title fight" if the coalition scraps the legislated rise in the superannuation guarantee.

Meanwhile, a Senate inquiry scrutinising the Morrison government's industrial relations omnibus bill has been warned it would have dire consequences for the aged care sector if more workers become casuals.

Nursing and midwifery union assistant federal secretary Lori-Anne Sharp said workers have had a gruelling time being on the frontline of the health crisis, while fearing they could infect their own families with the coronavirus.

"We're extremely disappointed that the government, rather than reward, is seeking to punish these very workers. We're very concerned that this legislation is headed down the wrong path," she said.