IR reforms to the Australian Fair Work Act, 2009

This article on ‘IR reforms to the Australian Fair Work Act‘ was written by Legal Upanishad.

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A country is built and then prospers with the help of its workforce. Different sections of people play different roles that help develop the country as a whole. So, the people engaged in this workforce will definitely expect something in return for their efforts because that will motivate them to toil harder which ultimately helps in the development of a nation.

For this reason, laws and regulations are brought in a country to safeguard the interests in respect of employment and the Fair Work Act is one such legislation that was passed by the Australian government in respect of employment. This article will discuss the Act and how it has reformed Intellectual Rights in Australia.

Fair Work Act, 2009

The Australian government passed the Fair Work Act in 2009 and it deals with the rules and procedures which form the basis of the employment policy in the country. Most private workplaces follow this piece of legislation to form their employment policies. This Act helps in the facilitation of economic prosperity and social inclusion of both employers and employees and in maintaining harmonious relationships between them thereby maximising productivity in the work. The Fair Work Act aims to achieve the above goals with the help of the following steps:

  • By establishing the terms and conditions of employment in workplaces;
  • By establishing provisions for the rights and duties of the employees, employers and the organisation;
  • By establishing a commission known as the Fair Work Commission and an ombudsman known as the Fair Work Ombudsman to give the Act an administrative framework; and
  • By establishing a framework for compliance and enforcement of the Act.

Along with these provisions and guidelines, the Act also provides the employees with guaranteed safety terms and conditions relating to their employment with the help of National Employment Standards(NES), Modern Awards and National Minimum Wage principles.

National Employment Standards

These standards are made necessary for employees who are covered by the National Workplace Relations System and cover every kind of employment irrespective of industry business size and type. The purpose of implementation of the standards is to ensure that the employees get the minimum entitlement working in Australia. The things that are covered by these standards are as follows:

  • Hours of work;
  • Minimum wage;
  • Rights of employees to request flexible working arrangements;
  • Annual Leave;
  • Parental Leave;
  • Public holidays;
  • Notice of termination and payment for layoff;
  • Long service leave;
  • Parental leave and entitlements related to it;
  • Personal leave;
  • Community service leave

These provisions are safeguarded by the National Employment Standards and every employment provider must abide by them in Australia.

Modern Awards

Modern awards are registered agreements like the Enterprise agreements which contain provisions related to entitlements like minimum wages, rates of penalty, pay for layoff, types of employment, allowance and other such things. These awards or agreements are there to ensure that the employees get at least the minimum entitlements.

If an organisation does not have modern awards then they may have miscellaneous awards which work almost in the same way or there may not be any such award only because these are not mandatory for employers to enter into. The main purpose for the enforcement of these awards is to provide additional support, on the basis of minimum employment standards, to the employees.

National Minimum Wage

A minimum wage is the standard rate for the work that a person performs. Every country has a minimum wage rate on the basis of the work. This wage rate differs, in Australia, depending on the employee’s age and type of employment. The difference is made on the basis of, firstly, for adults in respect of qualification and experience and secondly, for juniors and for people with disability.

Whatever may be the type of work or age of the employee, they cannot be paid less than the national minimum wage rate that has been fixed. This wage rate is reviewed every year by the Fair Work Commission to check if there is a need to increase the rate to make it sufficient for ensuring the employees at least can live to the basic standard of living.

The Fair Work Commission and The Fair Work Ombudsman

These two bodies give the Act an administrative structure and form an integral part of the legislation. The most important function of these bodies is to regulate and oversee the provisions of the Act and keep in check whether they are being abided by properly or not. The Fair Work Commission makes and reviews changes to the provisions of the Act, such as the awards and all, and acts as a tribunal to hear and solve grievances of employees.

IR reforms to the Australian Fair Work Act

Recent Industrial Relations Reform to the Fair Work Act:

The Fair Work Act 2009 has been proposed for amendment and the Fair Work Amendment Bill, 2020, was passed in the House of Representatives. This Bill is being considered to be of significant reform in Industrial relations in Australia since the Fair Work Act, 2009. This Bill was also introduced to tackle the situation of the covid pandemic by encouraging the employees to come back to work by overcoming this situation. The proposals such as facilitating agreements between the part-time employees and employers, in respect of the Covid pandemic situation, are set to reform the Industrial Relations regime, significantly, in Australia.


The Australian Government passed the Fair Work Act 2009 with the intention of introducing a national workplace relations system and providing a legal framework for ensuring good employer-employee relations. This led to the revolution in Industrial Relations in Australia and helped in increasing the efficiency in the workplace. This in return led to significant development in the economy of Australia. Now again, in the wake of this unfortunate pandemic situation, The House of Representatives in Australia has passed the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2020, which is intended to correct the existing problems in the previous Act and mould the provision to tackle the Covid-19 situation thereby creating reform in the Industrial Relations in Australia.


  1. Employsure, What is the Fair Work Act?
  2. Gocardless, A Guide to the Fair Work Act,
  3. 2020, Industrial Relations Reform on the Horizon, KPMG,
  4. 2021, Substantial Reforms Announced to Australian Fair Work Act: What’s Changing and What’s to Come, Insights,

View Comments (1)

  • An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. Theres no doubt that that you should write more on this subject, it might not be a taboo subject but usually people dont talk about these topics. To the next! Best wishes!!