The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) claims the Fair Work Bill discriminates heavily against working families building small businesses. 

“Smaller retailers will not cope with the collective pressure of increased labour and compliance costs in the modern retail award and the Fair Work Bill,” said ARA executive director Richard Evans.

“They will restructure their workforce (82 per cent), shed staff (over 65 per cent) or close shop.”

Evans said the one-size-fits-all approach of the Fair Work Bill is heavily skewed towards the practices of large employers and ignores the need for flexibility within a small retail business struggling to survive and maintain staff.

“The labour movement shows no understanding of small business needs or how they manage staff. The industrial relations bias towards mass labour worksites was confirmed when the Minister spoke of unions meeting staff in a lunchroom – most small businesses don’t even have lunch rooms.” 

Smaller retail employers are working families already battling a crisis of confidence, said Evans. Under the Fair Work Bill they will be confronted with an industrial relations environment which pays lip service to employer rights; provides unprecedented power to unions who have no union members in a retail establishment, and will drive up direct and indirect labour costs.

“Small business is the engine room of the modern economy and small retailers simply cannot afford another blow in this tightening economic climate. They need certainty and stability before they can cope with wage and compliance cost increases,” he said.