Australian Government urges Queensland Labor to protect apprentice jobs

Media Release
  • Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation
  • Member for Reid

The Australian Government is calling on the Queensland State Labor Government to work with it to protect apprentice jobs.

In November last year the Federal Court upheld a decision by the Fair Work Commission which found some apprentices in Queensland may be owed back pay from 1 January 2014.

The Federal Court confirmed that special arrangements on apprentice wages set up by the former Rudd and Bligh Labor Governments had stopped operating in 2014. These special arrangements had allowed some employers in Queensland to pay less than the relevant modern award.

The Australian Government reached out to the Queensland Government in December 2017 and again last month to establish a joint assistance scheme for those apprentices owed back pay.

Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation, Craig Laundy MP, said that while the Court’s decision was unexpected, all employers must meet their legal obligation to pay affected employees their correct wages.

“Because of this decision, some Queensland employers may owe apprentices back pay going back a number of years. This could push affected employers, including some small businesses, into insolvency, which would mean job losses and no back pay for apprentices who have now become qualified tradies, hairdressers and cooks. It may also mean affected employers cannot afford to employ new apprentices” Minister Laundy said.

“My priority is protecting and growing apprentice jobs. But the offer to assist affected small and medium businesses and apprentices requires the Queensland Government to also come to the table. I urge the Queensland Government to work with Australian Government on a joint assistance package.”

“Federal Labor is well aware of this issue. It is time for Bill Shorten to end his radio silence and call on the Queensland Government to stop playing politics with Queensland apprentice jobs and join the Federal Government in assisting affected apprentices.”

For more information

Media mailbox: media@employment.gov.au