Australia's national workplace relations system

The national workplace relations system is established by the Fair Work Act 2009 and other laws and covers the majority of private sector employees and employers in Australia.

Australia's workplace relations laws

As set out in the Fair Work Act and other workplace legislation, the key elements of our workplace relations framework are:

  • A safety net of minimum terms and conditions of employment.
  • A system of enterprise-level collective bargaining underpinned by bargaining obligations and rules governing industrial action.
  • Protections against unfair or unlawful termination of employment.
  • Protection of workplace rights such as the right to engage in industrial activities, the right to be free from unlawful discrimination at work, and the right to be free from undue influence or pressure in negotiating individual arrangements.

Australia's workplace relations laws are enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament. The practical application of the Fair Work Act in workplaces is overseen by the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The practical application of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 is overseen by the Fair Work Commission and the Registered Organisations Commission.

  • The Fair Work Commission is the independent national workplace relations tribunal. The commission’s functions include setting minimum wages, approving enterprise agreements, overseeing bargaining and industrial action, and resolving disputes at work. The commission also carries out a range of functions relating to registered organisations (unions and employer organisations) such as their registration, amalgamation, rules and applications for WHS and entry permits.
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman helps employees, employers, contractors and the wider community to understand their workplace rights and responsibilities and enforces compliance with Australia's workplace laws.
  • The Registered Organisations Commission monitors and educates registered organisations about their responsibilities such as record keeping, finances and elections. The commission was established in 2017 to increase financial transparency and accountability in registered organisations.

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