Workplace reforms court controversy

REFORMS SPARK OPPOSITION

Changes to Australia's workplace laws could be imminent, with debate underway in federal parliament. The proposal has proved controversial, with warnings of mass strikes and unintended consequences for small business.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT TRYING TO ACHIEVE?

* Changes followed consultation with business, unions and all levels of government at September's Jobs and Skills Summit

* Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the reforms are crucial to get stagnant wages rising and to better protect employees from an outdated system

* The proposal will allow for multi-employer bargaining, where workers from different businesses can band together to negotiate pay deals

* Unions could also force businesses to bargain together if a majority of employees agree to it

* The Fair Work Commission will get greater powers and be able to resolve disputes

* The bill will seek to raise pay for workers, including banning job ads where pay rates are below the minimum wage. Secrecy clauses on pay will also be banned

* Bosses will be required to reach agreement with their workers should employees request more flexible hours

* Construction sector watchdog, the ABCC, as well as the Registered Organisations Commission will be abolished.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN STICKING POINTS?

* The bill has been criticised by the opposition, who say small business will be unfairly affected by the changes

* Business groups are concerned by multi-employer bargaining, saying there will be unintended consequences for employees

* Crossbench MPs and the opposition have criticised the government's efforts to rush through the bill by the end of the year.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

* A vote is expected to be held in the lower house on Thursday before moving to the Senate in late November

* There are just two sitting weeks left for the upper house before parliament rises for the year on December 1

* The government will need the support of the Greens and at least one crossbencher to pass the bill

* The Greens have said they will support the bill in the lower house but will negotiate with the government on possible changes in the Senate

* Independent senator David Pocock has called for more time for the bill to be considered.