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This subject investigates the legal regulation of workplace bargaining in Australia. With the requirement that bargaining be conducted in ‘good faith’ under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), this has become one of the most contested areas of federal labour regulation. The subject is informed by the historical, political and economic factors that have shaped the development of the law, as well as relevant international legal principles. While the focus of the subject is on the system regulating workplace bargaining under the Fair Work Act, other relevant areas of law are analysed, including the common law regulation of strikes and industrial action and the contract of employment. The role of competition law on the nature of collective bargaining for independent contractors is also examined.
Principal topics include:
- The historical development of the law relating to workplace bargaining
- Relevant international legal principles and Australia’s obligations in this respect
- Common law regulation of strikes and industrial action
- The system regulating workplace bargaining under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including the conduct of bargaining and the taking of protected industrial action, and the role of trade unions
- The form, function and content of registered workplace agreements
- The relationship of workplace agreements to other means of regulating working conditions, including the contract of employment
- The ‘general protections’ under the Fair Work Act for freedom of association and the exercise of ‘workplace rights’ in relation to bargaining
- Collective bargaining and the self-employed – the impact of competition law.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal principles of Australian employment and labour relations law promoting the setting of working conditions through both collective and individual negotiations at the workplace, including recent developments in this field of law and practice
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal rules
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as the role of trade unions and developments in the regulation of collective bargaining for the self-employed
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of the relevant legal frameworks
- Have an advanced understanding of situations in which issues of bargaining may arise in work relationships and management practices
- Have a detailed understanding of the relevant legal frameworks in an international context
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to workplace bargaining, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to workplace bargaining
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding the legal regulation of bargaining at work to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of bargaining at work.
Last updated: 24 January 2023