Labor will insist on protections for employees aged over 35 before passing the government's Jobmaker plan, after the Coalition used its numbers to reject its amendments.

The Senate voted Tuesday night on amendments to the bill, to explicitly prevent employers from sacking or reducing the hours of employers aged over 35.

Under the scheme, businesses can receive a hiring credit worth up to $200 a week for job seekers aged between 18 and 29.

Labor argues it allows employers to replace workers employees aged over 35 with subsidised employees.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told parliament: "Labor will not tolerate a circumstance where workers over 35 are done over … If this legislation is seriously about additional employment, rather than replacing existing workers, then they have to support this amendment".

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese says the party “will not tolerate a circumstance where workers over 35 are done for”. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Labor Leader Anthony Albanese says the party “will not tolerate a circumstance where workers over 35 are done for”. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage


He said recession disproportionately hit older people, who often never found work again.

Labor, the Greens, Centre Alliance and One Nation all united to back the changes, a rarity Mr Albanese said should "be pause for thought" for the Coalition.

Greens Leader Adam Bandt backed his stance, urging the Senate to "stare down the government and insist" on the changes if the Coalition refuses to budge.

 

But despite a looming stand-off, the government rejected the amendments in the lower house. The bill will now return to the Senate.

Education Minister Dan Tehan insists "all of the existing rights and safeguards in the Fair Work Act for employees will continue to apply, including protection from unfair dismissal".

Given the credit is only available to employers who increased their headcounts, Labor's concerns are unwarranted, Mr Tehan says.

But Mr Bandt argues the unamended bill would allow employers to replace one well paid employee with two younger employees on a minimum wage. "That is not good for those who get sacked … and it's not good for younger people who are thrown into a world of insecure work", he said.

Originally published as Showdown looms over Jobmaker scheme


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