Budget 2019–20

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The Government has announced a series of initiatives in the 2019-20 Budget that will protect vulnerable workers, ensure Australians are fully equipped with the employment skills of the future and ensure all businesses play by the same workplace rules.

Budget related paper No.14 Jobs and Small Business Portfolio Budget Statements.

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Portfolio Budget Statements 2019-20

Jobs and Small Business 2019–20 Portfolio Budget Statements.

The Jobs and Small Business Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements (PAES) 2018-19 were tabled in Parliament on 13 February 2019. The PAES provides an update to government expenditure estimates for the 2018–19 Budget year and reflects changes since the Budget.

2019–20 Budget Jobs and Small Business Overview

The Government has announced a series of initiatives in the 2019-20 Budget that will protect vulnerable workers, ensure Australians are fully equipped with the employment skills of the future and ensure all businesses play by the same workplace rules.

These initiatives build upon the Government’s pre-Budget announcement of a new employment services model that will transform the way job seekers find employment and how employers connect with the right job seekers.  The new model will take effect from July 2022.

In preparation of this model, pilots will be held in two employment regions to ensure elements of the new model are simple to use, responsive and help job seekers find work faster. Existing jobactive services and related programs will continue until June 2022 with their focus on assisting young people, parents and mature age Australians find and stay in work.

New Employment Services Model — pilot and transitional arrangements

Before the new employment services model is launched in 2022, the department will trial aspects of the new model in two regions — South Adelaide and Mid-North Coast NSW — that will see nearly 95,000 job seekers participate. These regions were chosen as they provide a representative mix of job seekers, providers and stakeholders that will inform feedback ahead of the national rollout. The pilots start from 1 July 2019.

Harvest Labour Services — Reforms to encourage Australian job seekers to take up seasonal work

Australian job seekers will be encouraged to take up seasonal work opportunities through reforms to Harvest Labour Services (HLS) from 1 July 2020. HLS will expand to cover up to five new horticulture regions experiencing labour supply difficulties. HLS providers will receive new financial incentives if they attract Australian job seekers into seasonal work. The Harvest Trail website will be made user-friendly making easier to access information for job seekers, working holiday makers and employers. Submissions from Industry will be sought by the Government to promote seasonal work opportunities to Australian job seekers.

Better Targeting of Support for Refugees

The Australian Government is providing more time for refugees to adjust to life in Australia and learn English before being required to look for work. From 1 January 2020, newly arrived refugees, receiving activity tested income support, will be referred to jobactive once they have been receiving income support for a minimum of 12 months, rather than 26 weeks as is currently the case. At any time during this period, refugees will be able to voluntarily participate in jobactive and access the full suite of jobactive assistance, compared to Stream A (Volunteer) assistance currently.

Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow Package

As part of the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow Package, the Government is investing $1.8 million to deliver the third phase of the Jobs and Education Data Infrastructure project (the project). Phase Three of the project is focused on education providers, and will develop a new tool to help tertiary education providers design courses and training to cater for emerging skills. The tool will allow tertiary education providers to identify skill mismatches, and tailor their course offerings to meet demand. This builds on the work already undertaken by the project that helps workers to identify emerging career trends and empowering employers to better plan and prepare for their future workforce needs.

Addressing Sham Contracting

The Fair Work Ombudsman will receive $9.2 million to establish a sham contracting unit. Sham contracting is the practice of treating employees as independent contractors, usually to avoid paying employee entitlements. The unit will focus on addressing sham contracting, educate employers about it, focus on problem areas and industries and provide assistance to workers affected by it. Funding will start from 1 July 2019. The Government will also amend the Fair Work Act to increase the penalties applicable for serious sham contracting contraventions to further deter the practice.

Protecting Vulnerable Workers — National Labour Hire Registration Scheme and other measures

The Government has introduced initiatives to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation:

  • The Fair Work Ombudsman will be provided with additional capacity to conduct investigations and take action against employers who exploit vulnerable workers.
  • There will be an increased focus on providing information and education to vulnerable migrant workers to ensure they are aware of their workplace rights.
  • A National Labour Hire Registration Scheme will be introduced to protect vulnerable workers. It will be a ‘light touch’ registration scheme to target unscrupulous operators and level the playing field for law-abiding businesses. Stakeholders will be consulted as the scheme is developed.

Seasonal Worker Programme — pilot to address regional workforce shortages

A 12 month pilot will be introduced, in up to three regions, to help smaller farmers address agricultural workforce shortages as part of the Seasonal Worker Programme. Selected labour hire employers will link smaller farms with seasonal workers to meet harvest requirements. Regional Coordinators from the Department of Jobs and Small Business and Fair Work Inspectors will be on the ground to check on the workers’ welfare through monitoring visits.

The pilot will be introduced on 1 May 2019.

Australian Small Business Advisory Services Northern Australia Tourism Initiative — extension

The Australian Small Business Advisory Services Northern Australia Tourism Initiative will be extended for another six months until 31 December 2019. The initiative provides small business advisory services in northern Australia with grants to deliver low cost advice and information services to tourism small businesses as well as those intending to start a small business.

Workplace Advice Service — expansion

The Government has recently announced it will be making it easier for small and family businesses and Australian workers to understand the country’s industrial relations law with free legal advice. The $1.4 million expansion of the Fair Work Commission’s Workplace Advice Service (WAS) will provide both employers and employees with access to free legal advice on workplace issues. It is expected this service will provide Australia’s 3.3 million small and family businesses with a reliable source of information for matters relating to the workplace and employer responsibilities. Those in rural and regional areas who have limited support services will particularly benefit from the additional support.

Fair Work Commission — appointment of additional Members

The Government has earlier announced it has appointed six new Deputy Presidents and a Commissioner to the Fair Work Commission. The Fair Work Commission plays a vital role ensuring our workplace relations system operates in a fair and transparent manner by promoting a constructive and cooperative workplace environment. These additional appointments give the Fair Work Commission the ability to approve pay increases and better working conditions in enterprise agreements more quickly for Australian workers. The appointees provide the Fair Work Commission and the Australian industrial relations system with a wealth of knowledge, expertise and responsiveness.

Entity Budget Statements

Media release

Budget 2019 - Significant reforms to boost Australian jobs