The Australian’s fair work act, 2009 began operating on July 2009. It provides a fair framework for any workplace relations that promote national economic prosperity and social Inclusion for all Australians. In addition, it provides fair workplace laws that are flexible and favorable for the country’s economic growth, productivity, and for business operations.
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This act ensures that net pay and wages are up to the national employment standards for the sake of employees. It also enhances flexibility, thus assisting employees to balance their work and family responsibility. According to the Australia’s Employment Act (2009), an employer should never contradict the national employment standards.
The main issue that concerns the Fair Work Act, 2009 is that, it provides fair wages and conducive employment conditions, termination of employment, dispute resolution, enterprise bargaining, and industrial action. The act also requires an employer to abide by the terms and conditions of employment.
For instance, an employer cannot force a fulltime employee to work for more than 38 hours in a week unless there is a reasonable reason for the extra hours. Therefore, an employee is obliged to refuse to work for extra unreasonable hours by exercising his/ her rights (National employment standards 2009).
“With the introduction of the Fair Work Act (2009) the pendulum of workplace regulation in Australia has swung back towards the centre. Discuss with reference to the implications for bargaining over terms and conditions of employment.”
According to Holley et al (2008 pp 243), collective bargaining is an activity that involves the union representatives and the employer and management officials, in an attempt to solve conflicting issues that affect employees, thus sustaining and boosting the work relationship. When collective bargaining is successful, it boosts relationship between the employers and employees, thus both parties begin to trust each other through transparency and honesty; indeed, the possibility of damage is reduced.
According to Caisey (2007, pp 36), there are four types of collective agreements; a single –employer collective agreement, single union collective agreement, a multi-employer agreement and a multi- union and multi-employer collective agreement.
Collective bargaining includes discussing pressing issues such as
- Bargaining assistance to the low paid employees – it may involve issues such as employees designated to childcare, security, and community services;
- Abolishment of tough rules of industrial action where it may harm the country’s economy or even interfering with the economy of an organization. Industrial action may also be disregarded if it risks the welfare of the citizens.
- Right to entry, which union members are required to adhere to and members cannot disclose any information discussed.
- Protection from unfair dismissal of employees, which is an important issue that fights for the employees rights, hence dismissals are only accepted if there is a genuine reason, such as redundancy.
- Balances between work and family is encouraged in the Fair Act such that working hours should be flexible enough to allow employees to attain time to attend to family responsibilities.
- The right to be presented in the work place, which involves a decision by an employee to be involved in a union or not; employees can also decide on whether to engage in bargaining agreement or choose not to.
Collective bargaining acts as a regulator in which employers and employees can freely express their views concerning the nature of work at hand and come to an agreement (Fair work Australia 2009).
Negotiations are involved in the good faith bargaining, whereby an employer agrees to bargain with the employees on pressing work issues; this is the notification time. However, according to the Act, the employer should notify the employees of the right of representation in 14 days after the notification time. Good Faith bargaining involves the bargaining representatives, who must meet a number of requirements.
First, they should always attend meetings at the right time; they should not disclose any confidential information at all; and they should be in a position to respond to the proposals that are made by other bargaining representatives. In addition, the representatives should refrain from any behavior that undermines the collective bargaining principles. Finally, they should all come to an agreement on issues concerned.
Therefore, the Fair Act (2009) has provided a fair ground for both employers and employees to negotiate in terms of the nature of work. This meets with the objectives of the Act, which focuses on fairness in the place of work. The freedom of unions that represent employees is encouraged in this Act; therefore, employees are able to air their grievances, making the place of work a conducive environment.
In Chapter 2 of the Fair Work Act ( Collective Bargaining, 2009), there are two types of terms and conditions of employment that include the national employment standards (NES) – a modern award national minimum wage order, and an equal remuneration order. Therefore, for a modern award to be applicable to an employer or an employee, the award must cover the employee or the employer. It has to be also operational and it cannot be applicable when one has a high source of income.
A court order can also lead to a modern award being applicable to an individual. A modern award must include the national employment standards in that it is not an exemption. Its terms must supplement the national employment standards and should operate according to the NES terms and conditions.
For instance, the modern award agreement on annual leave of employees is 6 weeks with full pay. Thus, applying the NES, which states that the minimum number of leave is 4 weeks, most organizations in Australia have put this strategy of leave with full pay in practice. An enterprise agreement applies to an employee in relation to a specific employment; however, an agreement may cease to apply to an employee if the period of agreement expires.
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National employment standards are those standards that are as a requirement in the workplace and involve both the employer and the employee (An Act relating to workplace relations and for the related purposes, 2009, pp 78). The minimum working standards include maximum weekly hours, flexible working arrangements, parental, long service, careers, and annual leaves.
Notice of termination and redundancy pay are also inclusive. According to the act, the maximum working hours for any full time employee is 38 hours in a week; but the employee has the right to refuse to work for any unreasonable additional hours. However, there is a determination on how reasonable or unreasonable the additional hours could be.
First, they should not be a risk to employee’s health after working. According to Burke and Cooper (2008, pp 119), the intense of work that could lead to extra working hours and employee extra effort could result to health deterioration, thus interfering with the employee’s wellbeing.
In addition, they should not compromise employee’s family responsibilities like parental responsibilities. The additional hours should rhyme with the needs of the employee’s organization. Moreover, an employee should be entitled to an overtime payment for the additional hours worked.
A notice should however be given earlier by the employer to request for the additional hours, while the employee should also give an earlier notice, if he intends to refuse the work. The additional hours should rhyme with the employee work pattern, and they should be influenced by the nature of employee’s role in the organization. Finally, the addition hours should be in accordance with an agreement between the employer and the employee (An Act relating to workplace relations and for the related purposes, 2009, pp 79).
This Act gives the right to an employee to request for flexible working hours. This can be applicable to an employee who have a parental responsibility for a child in school or who is under the age of 18 years and for the case of a disabled child.
However, an employee can only ask for flexible working arrangement if he or she has worked for a minimum of 1 year in that organization; the request has to be in writing for formality purposes. The employer has to respond to the request in 21 days either granting the request or disregarding it. In case of the latter, the employer must give a reason for his decision, incase he denies the employee his request.
For parental leaves, an employee is not entitled to this type of leave if he has not worked for at least a year in the organization. There are two types of parental leaves – birth-related leave, which includes unpaid maternity leave and unpaid parental leave for casual workers. The second is the adoption related leave, which includes unpaid parental leave, which is preparation for the adoption of a child, and pre-paid adoption leave; the adopted child must however be under the age of 18 years old for permission to be granted.
However, birth-related leaves start from 6 weeks before the due date of birth. However, a 10-week earlier notice should be given to the employer before the leave commences, as evidence on the actual date of birth is required by the employer. In addition, incase an employee wants to extend his leave, he should write to the employer 4 weeks before the end of his or her leave.
This gives time for the employer to respond to the request within 21 days. However, no extension of leave can be granted beyond 24 months in cases of birth and placement leaves (An Act relating to workplace relations and for the related purposes, 2009, pp 94)
The Fair Work Act guarantees an employee the right of transfer to safer job in cases of pregnancy, and if she has served the organization for at least a year, evidence that supports the transfer must be produced. This enables an employee to choose the type of work that does not cause any negative effects on his/her health.
The comfort of every worker at their place of work is a concern to the government. In this case, the annual leave is compulsory to every working organization, and is associated with full pay. However, public holidays are not inclusive to an employee’s annual leave pay.
Identify rights and obligations, understanding the development of various rights and obligations, understanding the interplay between various spheres of regulations.
According to Department of foreign affairs & trade (2008), “Australia’s modern, competitive economy is underpinned by flexible workplace relations system which link productivity to remuneration and promotes innovation and efficiency gains in individual work places.”
With the presence of collective bargaining, employees and employers can be able to negotiate and agree on the nature of work at the place of work. Importantly, the collective bargaining leads a firm to a competitive advantage since the workers are motivated and they work to meet the company’s goals and objectives.
Every employee in Australia has a right to 38 working hours on weekly basis, with only reasonable additional hours. This is in addition to the right to 52 days of unpaid parental leave in form of maternity, paternity or adoption leave, four weeks of annual leave with full pay. Career leave with pay is also inclusive. Freedom of association is also encouraged in the work place, hence the presence of unions.
The Fair Work Act fights against unfair dismissals at the place of work. According to Lewis and Sargeant (2004 pp 152), in cases where an employer does not give reliable reason for dismissing an employee, then this type of dismissal is regarded as unfair.
An employee can only be dismissed if he is dismissed on genuine terms, if only they were performing a specific task for a specific period of time and if one was employed by a small business.
However, the government of Australia established new workplace relation systems that commenced in 2010. They include; collective bargaining power, minimum employment standards, the right to freedom of association, curbing discrimination, and procedures involved in dispute and grievance settlement, as well as laws that protect employee from unfair dismissal.
When employers adopt these systems for their organizations, then the working environment will be conducive for employees, thus leading to maximum productivity that will enhance the competitive advantage of the company. Employment standards in Australia are necessary for an organization, since they are essential to the employees and employers as well.
If an organization meets the national employment standards required of them, then they are abiding to the rules and laws of the Fair Work Act. National employment standards ensure that an employee is comfortable at his place of work such that, the employer is able to coordinate the staff.
When these standards are put in place, employees and employers are able to understand what is expected of them at the place of work such that, an employee cannot decide not to go to work without any reliable reason and he has to request for permission in writing to the manager in advance. The manager should give a response, which could be positive or negative. If permission is denied, then the manager should indicate a relevant reason for his decision.
Such a procedure allows an organization to run effectively, thus employees and employers know their limits at the place of work. It is clear that each employee in Australia has a right in the place of work and there are governmental organizations present like Fair Work Ombudsman, which tackles any work related complaints whereby, it investigates such issues in compliance with the country’s work place laws (Fair Work Ombudsman, 2010).
Finally, the Fair Work Act enhances fairness and justice at the place of work for both employees and employers. In addition, it improves employee-employer relationship since all the procedures and issues in this act involving communication are encouraged.
According to Fowkes (2011, pp 12), the unemployment rate in Australia is caused by skill shortage; hence, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the government.
The Fair Work Act, 2009 provides a framework for employment terms and conditions, and issues that surround employment department. In this case, the Australian government has put in place rules and regulations that employees and employers should abide to in the place of work. In addition, disregarding of unfair dismissal and encouraging collective bargaining and agreements are important in any organization.
Agreements boost employer-employee relationship in that, they create room for communication and solutions, thus leaving both parties satisfied. Moreover, given that communication is the key to success, this Act encourages the presence of collective agreements, which if well utilized, may lead to success in terms of growth of a company and create a bond between management and the staff.
Nevertheless, the government ensures that each employee has a right to an annual leave with full pay and unpaid maternity leave and placement leave incase of an adoption. The issue of fair wages for employees is also addressed. Indeed, when the employee’s needs are met, they become motivated and productive.
The Australian government is concerned about the welfare of its citizens, keeping in mind that it is through their hard work that profits are maximized, thus boosting the economic growth of Australia. The Act also clearly states that, in no condition should the employer bend the laws in the Fair Work Act, lest he is held liable.
An Act relating to workplace relations, and for the related purposes. 2009. Fair Work Act. Web.
Burke, R. and Cooper, C., 2008. The long work hours culture: causes, consequences and choices. NY: Emerald Group Publishing.
Caisey, K., 2007. Collective Bargaining. Northcote: CCH New Zealand limited.
Collective Bargaining. 2009. Fair Work Act. Web.
Department of foreign affairs and trade. 2008. Workplace relations in Australia. Web.
Fair Work Ombudsman. 2010. Australian government: Web.
Fowkes, L. 2011. Rethinking Australia’s employment services. The Whitlam Institute Publisher. Web.
Holley, W., et al. 2008. The Labor Relations Process 9th edition. OH: Cengage Learning publisher.
Lewis, D. and Sargeant, M., 2004. Essentials of Employment Law. 8th edition. NY: CIPD publisher.
National employment standards. 2009. Fair Work Act: Terms and conditions of employment. Web.