In case you’ve missed it, the Fair Work Commission is currently engrossed in the four-yearly review of Australia’s (hopelessly complex and rigid) so-called ‘Modern Awards’.

These 122 Awards, which impose mandatory minimum terms and conditions of employment that most employers are legally-required to provide to their employees, certainly deserve some scrutiny. But I’m less than hopeful about the Commission doing anything other than tinkering around the edges and leaving exhausted small business employers (in particular) in a perpetual state of confusion for yet another four years.

In an extraordinary finding, research which was undertaken at the Commission’s own request concluded that most small business owners have a sense of ‘dread’ and ‘resignation’ when it comes to reading and applying Modern Awards in their workplaces. I describe this finding as extraordinary because I can’t believe the researchers actually managed to find small business owners who had heard of Modern Awards.

Indeed, the biggest problem facing Modern Awards – and the entire Fair Work system for that matter – is the sheer complexity of compliance. Small business employers simply don’t have the time to come to terms with all the mind-numbing rules and regulations imposed by the 122 Modern Awards, so they either tune out or switch off completely. And who can blame them?

The Fair Work Commission will now spend a considerably large amount of tax-payers’ money conducting a seemingly-pointless review of hundreds of Awards which Australian employers either don’t know exist, don’t care about, or already ‘dread’.

Wouldn’t that money be better spent on explaining to employers how they can comply with these Awards? Wouldn’t we all benefit from the Commission’s limited time and finite resources being spent instead on looking at ways to reduce the overall compliance burden? Of course, that’s what we’re told they’re doing, but I have a healthy scepticism when it comes to ‘reviews’.

According to the Commission’s President, Justice Ross, the research into employer attitudes towards Modern Awards ‘…was undertaken using a citizen co-design methodology.’ See what I mean?

I genuinely hope that the Commission didn’t spend too much (of your) money on this research project, because I (and most of you) could have told them for free that the system doesn’t work, that employers just want to get on with the job of running their businesses without endless interference, and that Modern Awards are, quite frankly, an absolute mess.