Australia’s workplace relations system changed on 1 July of this year with the introduction of The Fair Work Act 2009. This act creates a new legislative framework for workplace relations, the aim being the establishment of a strong safety net for employees’ minimum workplace standards.
The Fair Work Act, the Rudd government’s response to the much publicised Work Choices legislation, aims to give employees clear, comprehensive and enforceable minimum protections that cannot be removed by employers. While officially becoming law on 1 July 2009, there is a bridging period up to 31 December 2009 for many provisions contained within the act.
The main feature of the Fair Work Act that will have an impact on employers is the recognition of the new National Employment Standards. There are ten legislated minimum employment conditions relating to the following:
- Maximum weekly hours
- Requests for flexible working arrangements
- Parental leave and related entitlements
- Annual leave
- Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave
- Community service leave
- Long service leave
- Public holidays
- Notice of termination and redundancy pay
- Fair Work Information Statement – this is a statement for all employees that make clear their rights and entitlements under the new system and how to get advice and help
A second element of the Fair Work Act is for the creation of modern awards by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. These modern awards are designed to cover all those who have typically been regulated by awards, and may introduce up to ten additional minimum conditions of employment.
It is important to recognise the ten Nation Employment Standards will apply to all employees, whether they are covered by an award or not. The Fair Work Act also introduces new laws regarding unfair dismissal.
Additional information on the Fair Work Act can be found at: