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News News Survey of HR professionals offers ammunition for Opposition
A SURVEY of people who work in human resources has found WorkChoices has increased the complexity of employment arrangements and the need to resort to legal advice in many businesses.

Looking ahead, few respondents believe that operating under WorkChoices will improve productivity, job creation or work/life balance in their organisation over the next three years.

Conducted by university academics for the Australian Human Resources Institute, the survey will provide ammunition to Labor and the unions. But the Government can seize on the finding half the respondents said the legislation hadn't affected the ease or difficulty of their job.

The results of the research will be released today. In general it shows that while there are positives from the new laws, significant negatives have also emerged and most businesses are suspending judgement.

A minority reported a fall in workplace morale.

Just over 1000 HR professionals answered the survey, half from the private sector. Large organisations (more than 1000 employees) accounted for 31 per cent, with 27.7 per cent medium-sized organisations (100-499). One-third were non-unionised.

A third of respondents said the legislation had made their job more difficult; only 3 per cent said it had become easier. More than 40 per cent said it had increased the complexity of employment arrangements; 55.5 per cent said it had increased the need to resort to legal advice.

The HR professionals were cool towards the new "fairness test" the Government has introduced under the pressure of criticism. While some said it offered workers protection, others indicated some frustration because of its complexity, which makes agreement-making more complicated and increases administrative costs.

Most respondents said management practices in their organisation hadn't significantly changed. Some suggested they were waiting to introduce any change, while others felt no need for change or were still covered by pre-WorkChoices agreements.

The new IR system does not seem to have affected unfair-dismissal claims or hiring practices in larger firms, according to the survey.

Most of those answering questions about unfair-dismissal provisions had more than 100 workers. Of these, a substantial majority regarded the laws as having caused no change in the provision of employment (87.3 per cent). Only 4.5 per cent said they had encouraged the employment of more people.

The data also indicated that in employment deals since the new law there has been a general retrenchment in almost all of a range of employment provisions, such as travel and meal allowances, shift, casual and annual leave loadings, overtime and payments for public holidays.

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