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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. This subject also addresses the important topic of how compliance with labour standards can be enforced and considers issues such as the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman, and the challenge of enforcement in the context of different business models, such as franchise networks.
Principal topics include:
- The scope of the national system of labour regulation
- 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 legal mechanisms and sanctions relating to enforcement of minimum labour standards and working conditions by employees, unions and the Fair Work Ombudsman
- The administrative sanctions available to the Fair Work Ombudsman
- Emerging issues and innovative approaches in regulating and enforcing 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, regulation of work/life balance, and developments in labour standards arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 challenge of enforcement of labour standards in the context of different business models
- 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 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 labour 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: 11 February 2021