Industry leaders are calling for a shake-up of work leave rules.

The Australian Industry Group says industrial relations reforms will be needed to restore the economy once the health threats of the COVID-19 crisis pass.

“Now is not the time for tired old arguments about IR reform,” Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said this week.

“What is needed is fresh thinking and a new approach, aimed at boosting productivity, growing jobs, encouraging investment and restoring economic growth.”

The Ai Group is looking at ways to revamp the award system, enterprise bargaining and the definition of casual employees.

The group wants to see legislative matters taken out of awards, including annual and sick leave, redundancy entitlements and public holidays.

Mr Willox says there are major barriers to the use of “individual flexibility arrangements”, which should be a key part of the awards system, but have not lived up to this potential.

The Ai Group is also wants the ‘better off overall’ test replaced with a measure of no disadvantage, and to stop unions becoming involved in situations where they do now represent any of the employees covered by the agreement.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also thinking about new workplace rules, writing to the government with five proposals for change.

They include staggered start and finish times without no overtime, and allowing businesses to stand down employees for six months after the JobKeeper wage subsidies end.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that unions and employer groups are able to come together in times of crisis for the betterment of Australian workers,” chief executive James Pearson wrote.