The National Retail Association (NRA) has slammed the Gillard government for fiddling with industrial relations arrangement.

NRA chief executive officer Trevor Evans said the federal government’s regular policy changes are being announced without any consultation or reference to those industries most likely to be affected.

“This is the fifth time in five weeks the Government has announced a sudden change to industrial relations laws,” he said.

“These announcements have been made without any consultation with industry. How can the Government possibly expect business owners to employ staff with any certainty when the rules are changing so often?

“There are big questions about how these proposed changes would work in practice, but the announcements have been light on detail and there has been no opportunity to ask questions. For example, what would happen if enshrined penalty rates conflicted with the provisions of pre-existing agreements? What would happen with awards where penalty rates do not currently apply, or with award-free employees?

“This constant change is exacerbating the uncertainty that businesses have been facing in recent times.”

According to NRA, the changes are undermining business confidence which in turn is harming job creation efforts.

“Everyone loses here. Business owners can’t charge any more for services but are faced with significantly higher labour costs. Their only option in such circumstances is to cut staff numbers or cut hours. That would be a very bad result for workers, especially young workers and parents who often want to find work outside of traditional hours,” Evans said.

Evans has called on the government to end political games and concentrate on what’s important.

“These recent announcements appear to be targeted at drawing the Opposition into a debate on industrial relations, and at shoring up the Prime Minister’s support among union factional leaders,” he said.

“We call on the Prime Minister and the Government to end the political games and refocus their efforts on creating a stable, prosperous business environment. At the end of the day, that is the only real way to achieve strong employment and increased pay.”