Timeline for the roll out of Fair Work Australia
16th December 2009
Danny Cloghan, whose prior roles include being chief of staff to former health minister and attornery general Jim McGinty, is among six new appointments to Fair Work Australia.
Minister for Workplace Relations Julia Gillard announced the appointments this week.
Under the federal government's new workplace relations system, Fair Work Australia commissioners are appointed to be "independent umpires".
Ms Gillard said the newly appointed commissioners are "fair-minded and capable professionals from varied backgrounds".
However, five of the six new commissioners come from a union background, with only one having experince with an employer group.
The new commissioners are: Peter Hampton, Danny Cloghan, Anne Gooley, John Ryan, Michelle Bissett and Julius Roe.
Mr Cloghan is currently acting executive director, Finance and Corporate Division, WA Department of Health. He has almost 30 years involvement in workplace relations matters, including in the union movement.
Mr Cloghan is currently also a Director, Community CPS Credit Union. He holds a Master of Industrial Relations and Bachelor of Arts degree.
1st July 2009
Fair Work Australia Begins
Small businesses are no longer exempt from unfair dismissal laws as the 2009-10 financial year ushers in a new industrial relations system.
From today, the Federal Government's new Fair Work regulations will replace a raft of the Howard government's WorkChoices laws.
No business, regardless of its size, will be exempt from unfair dismissal provisions.
Under the new provisions, there will be greater powers for the new industrial relations umpire to enforce good-faith bargaining.
Other changes include new standards for collective bargaining and the restoration of some safety net conditions.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman David Gregory says one of the biggest changes is to the unfair dismissal laws.
"The exemption that has been in place for businesses with 100 employees or less for the past three years comes to an end," he said.
Mr Gregory says it is difficult for small businesses to keep up with all the changes.
"We've seen the industrial relations pendulum now really swing back and forward several times over the past decade and it does make it difficult for businesses to keep up," he said.
"But that's not an excuse. These are new legal obligations. Businesses do need to understand what they are all about.
"They do need to be complying with the changes to these laws."
Australian Industry Group spokesman Stephen Smith says the workplace relations balance has shifted.
"The rights of unions and the power of unions is being increased somewhat," he said.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Sharan Burrow says the new measures are what Australians voted for at the last federal election.
Ms Burrow says WorkChoices is finally dead and buried.
"It'll certainly be a celebration, but it's a day of course when unions get back to business," she said.
"We have fundamental rights back in place. WorkChoices is off the agenda and people can go to work today knowing that they can't be sacked unfairly.
"The unfair dismissal rights are back in place."
courtesy of ABC news
30th June 2009
The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, has today announced that funding offers have been made under the Fair Work Education and Information program.
As promised at the last election, the Government is facilitating a targeted education and information program to ensure employees, employers and small businesses understand the new workplace relations system.
complete article HERE
Australian Workplace Agreement to be replaced by Collective Agreements
According to the Labour Governments pre-election policy announcements:
- Australian Workplace Agreements will be phased out; and
- Collective workplace agreements will be positioned as the centrepiece of a workplace relations system.
To accommodate this, there will be an extension in many of the existing rules about agreement making and new rules will be introduced. In this article, we outline some of the expected changes and features of the collective bargaining system as envisaged by the new federal government.
As with the current system, the ability to make collective agreements will be open to employers with unionised workplaces, and those employers without a union presence in the business. There will be rules about approval. Whether it is a union or a non-union agreement, each agreement will need the support of a majority of employees at the workplace.
Introduction of Fair Work Australia
Once approved by the majority, agreements will need to be filed with, and assessed by, a central authority. At the moment, the Workplace Authority carries out this task. From January 2010, Fair Work Australia will carry out this role. Agreements will be approved within 7days of filing. The decision to approve will be made on the documents as filed and there will be no formal hearing.
Collective Agreement bargaining
There will be rules about bargaining. Employers will be required to inform employees of their right to choose their bargaining representatives and will be required to provide statements to employees with this information. Good faith bargaining will be enshrined in the legislation. Consequently, parties will need to attend and participate in meetings at reasonable times and disclose information in a timely manner. A bargaining party will be required to consider proposals by the other bargaining party. Capricious or unfair conduct will not be permitted.
Collective Agreement content
There will be rules about content. The current notion of 'prohibited content' will not be retained. This means that the content of agreements will be a matter for the parties to decide. Fair Work Australia will test each agreement to ensure that employees are 'better off overall'. This assessment will take into account award conditions and the various employment standards that the government intends to introduce by January 2010. Each collective agreement is to contain a flexibility clause to allow additional arrangements between the employer and an individual employee. These arrangements must not result in disadvantage to the employee.
Please note: The laws have not changed yet. Detailed draft legislation has not been released and so the outcomes may differ from those described here.
Article supplied by Australian Business Lawyers - specialists in employment law and related areas.
Monday 17th March 2008
Julia Gillard announced on ABC radio that the legislation for the scrapping of AWAs will be put throught the senate by the end of this week.
The federal government is moving to have its workplace relations legislation rubber stamped by the end of the week.
Labor's transition bill to abolish Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) will pass through the lower house on Monday.
A Senate inquiry into the laws will also report to Parliament on Monday.
Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard said the government wants the bill passed before Easter but is willing to amend the legislation if worthwhile recommendations are made.
"We anticipate that Labor's bill will go through the House of Representatives in the middle of the day," Ms Gillard told ABC Radio.
"The Senate inquiry will report and we will be asking the Senate to deal with the legislation so that it is finalised before Easter."
The committee overseeing the Senate inquiry has studied around 60 submissions and has travelled around the country collecting evidence.
"It may be that the Senate inquiry does come up with some technical advice that is worth listening to, and we will be happy to consider their report when we receive it," Ms Gillard said.
"We have always been open to making technical or clarifying changes which were in accord with Labor's legislation.
"Our policy is going to be delivered, it's going to be delivered in full, and we wouldn't count any amendments that were different from our policy."
The federal opposition has said it would support Labor's legislation.
Opposition spokeswoman for workplace relations Julie Bishop said the inquiry has raised serious concerns in relation to the building industry and wants the laws redrafted.
"Construction is done on a project basis, people are employed for the life of the project and Labor's transition arrangements don't take into account that kind of employment contract," Ms Bishop told ABC Radio.
"While I'm reading the evidence I am coming to the view that the bill needs serious redrafting.
"Hopefully the Senate report will highlight the shortcomings and the government will analyse the evidence before the Senate inquiry and will redraft the bill."
Courtesy of ABC radio
27th March 2008
The law banning any new workplace agreements was signed today making any new AWAs illegal after midnight tonight.
28th March 2008
The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations today proclaimed with the Governor General the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Act 2008.
The proclamation of the Act is the beginning of the end of the previous Liberal Government's extreme Work Choices laws which were introduced two years ago today.
The legislation reflects the Rudd Government's election commitments, which were set out in Forward with Fairness and the Forward with Fairness Implementation Policy Plan. The key previsions of the Transition to Forward with Fairness Act:
- Prevents the making of new Australian Workplace Agreements;
- Allows employers using AWAs as at 1 December 2007 to offer Individual Transitional Employment Agreements (ITEAs) to new employees and employers already on AWAs, for the transition period while award modernisation takes place;
- Introduces a genuine no-disadvantage test for new collective agreements and ITEAs;
- Enables the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) to undertake the process of award modernisation; and
- Removes the requirement for employers to provide the Workplace Relations Fact Sheet to their employees.
Following the nominal expiry date of an AWA made under Work Choices, it may be terminated unilaterally by either the employer or employee on 90 days’ notice. The employee would then be entitled to the benefit of the whole of an applicable collective agreement or award in the workplace.
As requested by employer and employee representatives, the Act will allow parties to retain pre-Work Choices certified agreements and to extend or vary those agreements in limited circumstances to avoid a odouble transition prior to the commencement of the Government’s new workplace relations system in 2010.
The Government will introduce its substantive workplace relations reforms into Parliament later this year after extensive consultation, to ensure that the Rudd Government's new workplace relations system is fair, flexible and productive.
16th June 2008
New National Employment Standards Released
8th July 2008
New minimum wage increase announced.
For full details go here
25th November 2008
Fair Work Australia Bill introduced.
Full Details go HERE