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This subject addresses the relevant provisions of the key federal statute governing minimum employment standards in Australia, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), which is the centrepiece of Commonwealth statutory regulation of working conditions. The subject examines the mechanisms by which minimum wages, working hours regulation and leave entitlements are set and reviewed, as well as the function and content of these standards. The new bullying jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission is also examined. This subject addresses the important topic of how labour standards can be enforced and considers issues such as the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman, and transfer of employment standards in the context of corporate restructuring.
This subject covers federal statutory regulation of minimum employment conditions in Australia. It addresses the relevant provisions of the key federal statute, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Principal topics include:
- The way the Australian Constitution shapes the legal mechanisms used to regulate labour standards and working conditions, and the scope of the national system based on the corporations power and the referral power
- The institutions that regulate labour standards and working conditions, including the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman
- The role and content of the National Employment Standards (NES) as a means of maintaining a safety net of fair working conditions
- The form, function and content of Modern Awards as a mechanism for setting further minimum labour standards at an industry and sectoral level
- The relationship of Modern Awards and the NES to other means of regulating working conditions, including the contract of employment and enterprise agreements
- The enforcement of minimum labour standards and working conditions by employees and the Fair Work Ombudsman, and protection of entitlements in the case of business restructuring
- The new jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission to make orders to stop bullying
- Emerging issues and innovative approaches in regulating labour standards and working conditions, including protection of vulnerable workers such as interns, casual and part-time workers and outworkers, extra-territorial coverage of labour standards, and regulation of work/life balance.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the different mechanisms of setting and maintaining minimum labour standards under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including recent developments in this field of law and practice
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these mechanisms and their enforcement
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as working hours, right to request flexibility mechanisms, and the Better Off Overall Test
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of the legal framework in relation to minimum labour standards
- Have an advanced understanding of situations in which minimum labour standards arise in work relationships and management practices
- Have a detailed understanding of Australia’s framework of minimum labour standards in an international context
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the setting, maintenance and enforcement of minimum labour standards, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, especially regulation theory, with creativity and autonomy
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to minimum standards in the workplace
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding labour standards in the workplace to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of labour standards under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Last updated: 2 December 2019