Business Council wants more "flexibilty" for employers

THE nation's big business lobby group wants the number of awards for different jobs reduced to one for each industry, it has told a workplace relations inquiry.

In a submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry, the Business Council of Australia says it is happy for penalty rates and the minimum wage to remain regulated by the Fair Work Commission.

The recommendation from the big end of town contrasts with the small and medium enterprise peak body's recommendation to cease regulation of penalty rates for service-oriented jobs.

Chief executive Jennifer Westacott said BCA wanted a workplace system that was ready to "adapt" to a model for the long-term future, to give business "much more freedom and flexibility".

The group has called for more scrutiny of the Fair Work Commission's decisions on penalty rates and the minimum wage, but not full deregulation, and it wants the current 122 awards reduced to one for every sector.

Ms Westacott said BCA wanted a better balance between what should be regulated under the safety net and what could be negotiated directly between workers and employers.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has rejected the BCA's calls for reform, arguing it was an effort to cut benefits and penalties.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said 'flexibility' was "the word employers use for cutting wages and conditions for workers".

The inquiry is expected to report to the government later this year.