According to the ARA, the Modern Retail Award and the Fair Work Bill will increase pressure for small retailers and many will not cope under the pressure.

Richard Evans, ARA executive director, has commented that “the one size-fits-all approach of the Fair Work Bill is heavily skewed towards the practices of large employers and ignores the need for flexibility within a small retail business struggling to survive and maintain staff”.

“The labour movement shows no understanding of small business needs or how they manage staff,” he said.

According to ARA figures 65 per cent of small retailers will shed staff, 82 per cent will restructure their workforce and 52 per cent will restructure staff rosters.

The ARA is calling on senators to consider job losses and the impact of the new IR laws, especially in relation to: the redefinition of small business for exemption from unfair dismissal laws, collective bargaining for low-paid workers and increased compliance and labour costs.

Evans emphasised that in this current economic environment this could be devastating for the retail sector.

“Small business is the engine room of the modern economy and small retailers simply cannot afford another blow in this tightening economic climate,” he said.

“No other economy in the world is introducing new labour laws in the context of the global financial crisis and this government policy is fraught with danger to the retail sector.”

In addition to the ARA findings the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also revealed results of a survey in relation to the Governments IR changes.

According to the ACCI figures, almost half of Australian employers believe the changes will make it more difficult to maintain current employment levels, just under 60 per cent think it will increase ongoing operating costs and 54 per cent claim it will have a negative impact on their willingness to take on new employees.