With more than 9 out of every 10 employers in Australia being a small business, it is important the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) understands the needs and expectations of this stakeholder group and optimise the way it discharges its functions to ‘work better for small business’ through the Connect & Engage consultation program.
The Connect & Engage consultation program recognised that small business people want to do the right thing, especially by their staff - the team that can contribute so much to business success. Yet it can be challenging to understand their employment obligations and to navigate employment laws and how the Commission deals with disputes that may be brought against the business.
This report documents the key issues raised and discussed in Connect & Engage consultation meetings held with smaller employers and their representatives between 23 March 2017 and 2 June 2017. The findings also draw on data and insights from user-design research conducted in June 2017 with smaller employers who had experience of responding to an unfair dismissal application.1 The scope of the project was contained to identifying possible and practical measures that would make the Fair Work regime ‘work better for small business’. As such, suggestions arising from the consultation process that would require legislative change or were policy-related reforms have not been included in this report.
The report features recommendations presented as a package of positive initiatives – not framed in a rigid and inflexible manner, but rather as a starting point to encourage the Commission to think creatively about how to improve and enhance its services to ‘work better for small business’. A consolidated list of recommendations is at Appendix A.