Government backflip on welfare reform: Good news for NFP employers

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NFP recruitment managers can breathe a (tentative) sigh of relief this week, after Employment Minister Eric Abetz backflipped on some of the government’s welfare reform proposals that would have potentially crippled recruiting for many NFPs.

You may recall that the Abbott government’s proposed changes to the Newstart Allowance would have forced job-seekers to apply for 40 jobs a month, creating up to 30 million additional applications for the same number of current vacancies, and flooding organisations with “spam” applications for job vacancies.

After employers expressed concern about the impact these new requirements would have on businesses, a backlash from community groups and vocal opposition in the Senate, Mr Abetz has now conceded that changes to the government’s proposed welfare reforms are necessary.

While Mr Abetz noted that “we understand that for business this is a burden,” he failed to acknowledge the same burden for already stretched and underfunded not-for-profit employers.

“The government has made some changes in response to the feedback, including keeping job search at 20 jobs per month for most job-seekers and allowing flexibility to tailor requirements to individual circumstances,” he said.

Work for the Dole still an issue

While the government has also now abandoned 31 different cuts to welfare payments – including cuts to pensions and family payments – one concerning change that remains is the extension of the Work for the Dole program.

The government is still planning to extend the program –  including making it mandatory – at a cost of $900 million, expecting all job seekers under 50 to undertake up 25 hours of unpaid work each week.

As we reported recently, Greens Senator Rachel Siewart expressed concern that not-for-profits will bear much of the cost of providing these placements with the government “obviously lining them up as a cheap way of implementing their flawed work for the dole regime.”

“Not-for-profits are not employment bodies and they are not training organisations. Being asked to provide placements for potentially hundreds of thousands of people will be disruptive to their ongoing work and will put even more strain on their operations.” Senator Siewart said.

The Victorian Council of Social Services also condemned the decision to expand the program, releasing a statement yesterday saying;

“Work for the Dole has been a spectacularly unsuccessful program at getting people into work and keeping them there. In 2011 Work for the Dole had a 22 per cent success rate in keeping young people in work or study after 6 months. By contrast, the recently defunded Youth Connections program had a 94 per cent success rate keeping people engaged after 6 months.”

What impact would an extension of the Work for the Dole program have on your organisation? Please let us know in the comments below.

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