Tehan calls for individual youth work contracts

TEENAGERS and young workers should be employed under individual work contracts, according to Wannon MP Dan Tehan. 

Mr Tehan wants unfair dismissal laws for small businesses relaxed, but denies the changes will lead to the return of the Howard government’s failed WorkChoices policy. 

In an opinion piece for Fairfax Media, the Hamilton-based MP said dismissal laws were blocking access to work for young people, arguing unemployment had jumped to nearly 25.1 per cent under Labor. 

He wants an upcoming Productivity Commission review into the workplace relation system to examine both the laws and individual work agreements (IFAs). 

“We’re not saying we need to return to that whole package of WorkChoices. What I’m saying is that we need to look at what worked and what didn’t,” Mr Tehan said. 

The Coalition wouldn’t force any changes until after the next election, he said. 

“WorkChoices is dead, that’s clear. The Howard government had policies in place that brought youth unemployment down significantly, by over 10 per cent.” 

But the MP did not say specifically how the laws should be overhauled or what should replace existing dismissal conditions. 

“The two things the Productivity Commission should look at are unfair dismissal laws for small businesses, which employ under 20 people or less and looking at the (IFA) agreements introduced by the Labor party that enable flexibility,” Mr Tehan said. 

“One of the things that we’re seeing at the moment is that there’s a reluctance from small employers to take on young Australians … if unfair dismissal laws are one of those problems then they need to look at that.”

In the lead-up to the 2013 election, Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised no significant changes to workplace relations during the Coalition’s first term. 

“We’ve got the Productivity Commission doing the review and any of the recommendations we think should be taken forward, will be taken to the Australian people at the next election,” Mr Tehan said yesterday. 

Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor was unable to be reached for comment. 

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