The government has waved through a push to split up its own controversial reforms to workplace laws, in an awkward blow to the Prime Minister.

On Thursday, influential crossbench senators David Pocock and Jacqui Lambie brought on a vote to split off the non-contentious elements of the government’s proposed IR legislation.

The government initially tried to block a vote on the legislation but was overruled, before ultimately allowing the changes to pass with no objections.

With the bills passed, they will now be brought on for a vote in the House of Representatives, forcing the government to either split up its omnibus bill or vote against elements of its own proposed legislation.

The four private senators bills stripped out the least controversial elements of Labor’s Closing Loopholes Bill in a bid to expedite new protections for emergency service workers who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Senate also passed measures to stop discrimination against employees who have experienced domestic violence, changes to small business insolvency laws and to expand assistance for those who suffer from silicosis.

Senators Pocock and Lambie have justified the move on the grounds that the non-contentious changes must be implemented as soon as possible, while giving more time for controversial elements of the legislation to be debated and ultimately voted on in the new year.

Contentious changes being targeted include clamping down on labour hire, making it easier for casual workers to convert to permanent roles, and empowering the Fair Work Commission to introduce minimum pay and conditions for gig economy workers.

On Thursday morning, the move was met with fierce resistance from Labor senators who reiterated their call for the existing IR bill to be passed in its entirety.

More to come

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