The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has slammed proposed new remuneration laws which will see agents be paid more for working weekends and after hours.
The Fair Work Amendment bill 2013, which is currently being considered, proposes the need to provide additional remuneration for employees working overtime; unsocial, irregular or unpredictable hours; working on weekends or public holidays; or working shifts.
REIA president Peter Bushby said the new legislation would have an adverse effect on clients, consumers and the industry.
“Potentially, this legislation has the greatest impact on the viability of real estate businesses and the services they provide," he said.
“Agents require flexibility in their hours and appreciate that weekend and evening work is required to meet clients’ needs. The current state award recognises these issues and is the product of consent between the unions and employer representatives in the industry.”
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First National Real Estate chief executive, Ray Ellis, agreed with the REIA's stance, adding that agents like the current arrangement.
“The Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 operates on the basis that everyone should or wants to work during the day, during the week," he said. "While in many industries this is true, it is not true of the real estate industry."
"Its impact would be devastating, not just to the industry, but to the economy as a whole.
Mr Ellis said agents knew what they were signing up for, and that they embraced the hard work.
“Staff are attracted to the industry because it favours entrepreneurship, it rewards those ready to work hard," he said. "Everyone employed by a good employer knows the hours before they sign an agreement.
“This is a law protecting people who want to work regular hours and within rigid guidelines and regulations and does nothing for those who choose to work flexibly and think outside the square."
Mr Bushby said the current system isn’t broken, and doesn’t need to be fixed.
“It’s an award made by the industry for the industry. The flexibility it provides in relation to hours of work is a reflection of its history as well as the characteristics of the industry,” he said.
“There is simply no evidence of the need for change and indeed, any change imposed by the legislation would add to the cost impost and be unwarranted.”
The REIA expressed its disappointment that the businesses community was not consulted before the bill was put forward.
“REIA urges the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee to recommend to the Senate that it not pass the bill and that at a minimum, the bill should be deferred until a comprehensive and quantified assessment of the impact of the proposed changes is undertaken.”