The government’s proposed new industrial relations laws would force over 65 per cent of small retailers to cut jobs and many to shut up shop.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said in the current economic climate small retailers wouldn’t cope with labour costs associated with the planned introduction of the Fair Work Bill in July, followed by the Modern Retail Award coming into effect six months later.

“No other economy in the world is introducing new labour laws in the context of the global financial crisis and this government policy is fraught with danger to the retail sector,” said Evans.

“We must consider the combined effect of the Modern Retail Award, the Fair Work Bill and an environment of economic instability. Today retailers have clearly indicated the effect will be less jobs and retail shop closures.

“To save jobs and small retail businesses we’re urging the government to recommend the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) defer the introduction of the Modern Retail Award for 12 months.”

Retailers create jobs – full-time jobs, part-time jobs and casual jobs – they provide most Australians with their first job, but new IR laws will force over 82 per cent of small retailers to restructure their work force. For many of the 1.5 million retail employees in Australia this means either less work or no work.

“As well as reducing staff levels, over 52 per cent of small retailers indicated they will restructure staff rosters and a further 26 per cent will restructure employment types to cope with increased wage bills as a result of the Fair Work Bill and the Modern Retail Award.

“Working families who are struggling to keep their small business’ doors open simply cannot afford the Fair Work Bill’s restrictions on casual and penalty rate entitlements or the Modern Retail Award’s average 14 percent increased wage bill,” said Evans.