Automation is changing the way we work. While new innovations are essential to improve productivity, often the incorporation of new tech into workplaces pushes Australians out of work – sometimes permanently. This report explores how overdue reforms to Australia’s redundancy framework can provide a smoother path to re-employment for Australians who lose work due to technological disruption.
Part 1 of this report begins by briefly exploring the changing nature of the Australian economy, and the impact automation and technological disruption is having on work. It notes how the labour-share of income has been declining in recent years, in large part due to technological disruption which have led to real labour costs for the private sector declining, despite profits increasing.
Part 2 examines the nature of redundancy and retrenchment in Australia.
Part 3 proposes actionable reforms aimed at tailoring Australia’s redundancy framework to Australia’s modern, dynamic, innovative economy. These proposals focus on harmonising the definitions of redundancy in the Fair Work Act, formalising the retraining and re-deployment obligations of larger employers that engage in labour-cost minimisation through automation, giving workers more time to consider or contest the validity of their dismissal, expanding access to redundancy and raising redundancy payments for workers who have been in a job for less than five years, and exploring ways to, in the long term, use a portion of profitability associated with automation for re-skilling and re-employing Australian workers.