A real estate union has reported a “significant upsurge of employment disputes” following changes to industrial relations rules.
The Queensland branch of the Australian Property Services Association is now receiving about two complaints per day, compared to one or two per week under the old regime, according to state secretary Tom French.
Mr French told REB that there had been a particular increase since April, three months after real estate employment laws were harmonised across Australia.
As a result, since 1 January, employment agreements no longer have to be registered in Queensland, NSW or South Australia.
Mr French said the result of this reduced scrutiny is that agreements made under sections 15 and 16 of the award now often contain conditions that are non-compliant.
The union has received complaints that some employees are being paid less than award rates, are missing out on allowances, and are failing to receive commissions once their employment ends, according to Mr French.
“We are of the opinion that some of the non-compliant conditions are borne of ignorance or reference to superseded pay rates,” he said.
“But many are perceived as deliberate as there is no longer the need for agreements to be registered and therefore subjected to scrutiny – and the employee agrees in ignorance.”
Mr French said that employees should insist that their written agreement voluntarily be registered with their appropriate state bodies – and in the case of employees in Western Australia and Victoria, the Queensland registry will handle their cases.
“If the employer will not register your agreement, employees are urged to register the document themselves so that it can be checked for compliance,” he said.
The Real Estate Employers Association, which represents about 350 Queensland employers, said it hadn't noticed any increase in complaints.
Secretary Bruce Siebenhausen told REB that if any misbehaviour is happening, it doesn't appear to involve his members, whom he described as well-behaved and well-informed.
Mr Siebenhausen said that his association supports the registration of employment agreements, because this offers protection for both parties.
He also said that Queensland real estate employers and employees have generally had harmonious relations and have worked together to improve employment conditions.
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