Employment Law (LAWS50064)
Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)
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About this subject
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Employment Law is an increasingly diverse and complex field of legal regulation governing employment and industrial rights and obligations. In Australia, it comprises the common law of contract and several overlapping statutory schemes including principally the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), Commonwealth and State equal opportunity legislation, and work health and safety statutes. These different legal frameworks can only be fully understood and appreciated in their industrial, economic, social, political and public health contexts. Those contexts include international influences, dynamic federal-state relations, the tradition of Australian industrial relations with its values of industrial justice, strategic decision-making and advocacy of industrial associations, labour market trends, social movements of equality, and new forms of business and work organisation.
This subject explores the field of employment law in detail, with a focus on the processes of law-making and intersections between different sources of rights and obligations. Dispute resolution and enforcement in the field of employment law poses particular challenges, across the different statutory frameworks, and these matters will also be examined. The ways in which employment law is shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic and social and health consequences will be examined.
The principal substantive topics that will be addressed in this subject may include:
- The common law framing of contracts of employment and the contracting arrangements of independent contractors and the self-employed;
- various aspects of the common law contract of employment including express and implied duties of employers and employees;
- international labour conventions;
- the constitutional framework underlying the Fair Work Act;
- statutory standards under the Fair Work Act regarding unfair dismissal, minimum wage rates, hours of work and leave;
- the regulation of employment rights and working conditions by modern awards and enterprise agreements under the Fair Work Act;
- the regulation of issues of discrimination, bullying and harassment under the Fair Work Act and discrimination and harassment under equal opportunity legislation; and
- the regulation of work health and safety.
This subject will also examine a number of thematic issues, chosen from topics such as the COVID-19 pandemic and economic, social and health consequences, the rights of non-standard workers, fair and equal treatment at work, safety at work, work-life intersections, trade unions and freedom of association, employment security, compliance and enforcement, and employment law responses to economic and organisational restructuring.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will have an advanced and integrated understanding of the specialised and cross-disciplinary field of employment law. This includes a deep appreciation of the intersections and specific contexts and histories of each unique regulatory framework that comprises employment law. Students will have obtained specialised skills to:
- critically analyse and reflect on different literatures that seek to understand the field of employment law through, for example, capital and labour relations, regulation theory and critical approaches such as feminist scholarship.
- engage in a sophisticated manner in debates taking place within Australia and internationally on the appropriate role of the state in regulating labour relations
- interpret and transmit technical knowledge and skills across the field of employment law through addressing problems and case studies of contemporary and emerging issues in the field.
- self-direct in an autonomous and creative manner the production of a piece of legal writing that develops arguments in a highly structured, supported and referenced way
Students who successfully complete this subject will have developed:
- An integrated understanding of the specialised subject-matter of employment law, through the different legal frameworks governing work relations;
- A sophisticated appreciation of, and ability to engage in, the complex theoretical, policy and practical debates taking place in Australia and elsewhere in relation to employment law and its enforcement; and
- An extended understanding of recent developments in the field, the literature, and the professional practice of employment law.
Last updated: 2 February 2023