Labor workplace changes pass lower house

Employees will soon be closer to accessing multi-employer bargaining to get higher wages, with workplace laws passing the lower house.

However, large hurdles still remain for the industrial relations reform, with warnings small businesses will be impacted by the changes.

The workplace laws passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, following a late-night debate on Wednesday.

The laws will enshrine multi-employer bargaining and help increase pay in feminised industries, while also outlawing secrecy clauses on pay rates for employees.

It will also allow for unions to force businesses to bargain together if a majority of employees agree.

However, not all industries will be included in the laws, with the government introducing amendments that would exclude the commercial building and construction industry from the changes.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke said the decision was not made lightly, but exemptions were not likely to extend to other entire sectors as part of further amendments.

"The argument as raised, in particular by businesses, that they felt (multi-employer bargaining) could very easily be gamed ... simply by people operating through proxies if it was done through the lawlessness test," he told reporters on Thursday.

"So, following consultations, we ended up deciding this was a better way to go, the more direct way to go."

While the government has said the laws are urgently needed to increase sluggish wages, the opposition and crossbenchers have accused Labor of trying to rush through the legislation.

Attempts for a longer inquiry into the bill failed to get off the ground.

The government introduced 150 amendments to the legislation, following further talks with unions, business groups and advocates.

The amendments include measures where a majority of support will be needed of workers from each employer for a single interest bargaining stream authorisation.

Businesses and workers also won't be forced into an authorisation when they have agreed to bargain for a single enterprise agreement.

Mr Burke said talks were still ongoing with senators to ensure the passage of the bill.

"I'm realistic. I know that we have to negotiate for this," he said.

"But I am doing everything I can to get this bill through with as many protections for workers as I possibly can."

Opposition spokesman Paul Fletcher said the amendments made a bad bill even worse.

"This is a very bad bill, taking the Australian economy and our society and our community backwards," he told parliament

Independent MP Zali Steggall said the only winners of the bill would be "the unions and lawyers", while warning it would still take months to get wages moving.

Debate on the laws will head to the Senate later this month, but there are just eight sitting days remaining before parliament rises for the year.

Passage of the bill through the upper house is still not assured, with the Greens and at least one crossbench senator needed for support.

Independent senator David Pocock has yet to formally outline his position.

However, the ACT senator has met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese about the workplace laws.

Senator Pocock had called for the bill to be split so less contentious elements could pass quickly while debate continues on other components.

The bill's passage was welcomed by ACTU secretary Sally McManus, who said the laws would help end the wage crisis.

"The reality of the campaign being run against this bill is that for some employers it will never be the right time for a pay rise," she said.

"Without changes to the bargaining system, the wage crisis will continue, with working people forced to continue cutting back."