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Paid work is central to the lives of most adults – it provides an income and is constitutive of identities. For society at large, the organisation of paid work relationships is crucial because of the need to produce goods and services and to protect those engaged in production. Regulation of these work relationships by law is, therefore, important.
This subject provides a thematic overview of the legal regulation of work relationships in Australia in an industrial, social and political context. It examines how work relationships are regulated through statutory regimes as well as through contract law. A major focus of the subject is the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), which sets minimum employment conditions, regulates modern awards and workplace agreement-making, provides redress in relation to adverse action and also provides processes to deal with issues of bullying at work. Anti-discrimination and equality law will also be examined.
This subject is designed to be of particular assistance to students without previous (or recent) legal study in this area. Principles of Employment Law is compulsory for students who do not have a law degree from a common law jurisdiction, and it is strongly recommended that this subject be taken before any other employment and labour relations law subjects. Principles of Employment Law is also recommended for students who have not studied an equivalent subject in their law degree, or who have not done so recently. Principles of Employment Law is ideal for students undertaking a masters in another specialisation, or a Master of Laws, who wish to study one subject in the field of employment and labour relations law.
Principal topics include:
- The constitutional framework for Australian employment law
- Statutory standards under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) including unfair dismissal, minimum wage rates, hours of work, leave, adverse action and 'right to request' regimes
- The regulation of employment rights and working conditions by modern awards and enterprise agreements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
- Various aspects of the common law contract of employment
- Anti-discrimination and equality 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 law
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal principles
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as the legal effect of employer policies and investigations, bullying, performance appraisal, and work and life collision
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of the legal framework of the industrial system
- Have an advanced understanding of the complex range of situations in which legal issues and disputes may arise in work relationships and management practices
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the field, and to critically evaluate existing legal explanations, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy.
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues in the field.
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding employment law to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of employment law.
Last updated: 11 February 2021