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Coalition would dump right-to-disconnect law: Dutton

A coalition government would repeal right to disconnect laws, the opposition leader says. (Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS)

By Tess Ikonomou in Canberra

Criminal penalties for bosses contacting employees after hours under Labor’s workplace reforms would be scrapped under a coalition government, Peter Dutton says. 

Workers will soon have the right to ignore unreasonable calls and emails outside their rostered shifts.

But the government’s legislation, which cleared parliament on Thursday, includes penalties for employers who breach the rules.

Asked if he would take a promise to repeal the change at the next federal election, the opposition leader replied: “Yes, we will”.

“We will take a policy that’s in our country’s best interests that provides support to workers, but doesn’t make it impossible, particularly for small businesses to employ staff,” Mr Dutton told Sky News.

Labor has blamed the coalition for not allowing an amendment to the legislation before it passed to remove penalties.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the coalition had the opportunity to vote against the breaches being considered a criminal matter, but chose to leave it in place.

“That just shows they’ll always put politics before the working people of this country,” he said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said the government would amend its legislation to “fix” the blunder.

Dr Chalmers said the right to disconnect was “a common sense change” that meant a worker could take up a complaint against their employer.

The opposition has criticised the government for botching its own legislation.

Opposition treasury spokesman Angus Taylor said the coalition would take a targeted package to the next election to abolish Labor’s industrial relations reforms.

“We’ve seen behind that collapse in living standards is an unprecedented collapse in labour productivity in this country,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program.

“We have to get back on track here and the key to that is is to get employers and employees working together to make their workplaces more prosperous, more productive, more competitive.”

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