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Fair Work Commission in Australian System of Employment Relations: Assessment Answer

Task Description-  

Essay

Discuss the role and assess the effectiveness of the Fair Work Commission in the review of modern awards in the Australian system of employment relations. 

Word Length: 1000-1500 words

Assessment Criteria

Depth of knowledge and critical analysis of the topic

Appropriateness of responses to the topic question

Relevant and accurate literature

Essay has clear introduction, main body & conclusion. Clarity of expression/grammar and spelling

Correct referencing style

Appropriate word length relevant to the topic.

Referencing Style

Learning Outcomes Assessed

  • explain and discuss some of the theories of employment relations;
  • discuss and assess the role of governments, unions and employers in the system of employment relations in Australia;
  • identify and critically evaluate the changes in the Australian labour market;
  • discuss the impact of legislation on the practice of employment relations in Australia; and
  • identify and critically evaluate the most important issues that impact on the practice of employment relations in Australia

Graduate Attributes

  • Knowledge
  • Communication
  • Research
  • Self-management

Answer

Role of the Fair Work Commission in the Review of Modern Awards in the Australian system of Employment Relations


Introduction 

The significance of an inclusive, safe and employee friendly industrial atmosphere has grown in the last few years owing to blatant corporate violations of government rules. Industries have often found to breach regulations in terms of human resource management. This includes suppressing grievances, dissent, not paying the minimum wage and terminating employees without justification. In order to address these issues, the Australian government formed the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in 2009, to address these issues and complaints (Tham and Fudge, 2019). Solving industrial disputes has helped the industries in Australia to function with better accountability and responsibility. The present report will focus on the importance of Fair Work Commission with regards to modern awards given on the basis of employee relations. 

Fair Work Commission: Employment relations and impact of legislations

 Fixing industrial issues has been a tough challenge for countries across the globe. This is due to the pressure created by the industrial bodies and associations on the government so that their interests remain supreme at all cost and decisions should always benefit them. Potter et al. (2019), noticed that postmodernist theories have rightly observed the relations between an employee and employer depends on the enterprise language, work culture and continuous engagement with the top management. So the commission essentially encourages employees as well as industrialists to avoid hostility to each other. Recently a Qantas flight attendant was terminated due to alcohol consumption in an international flight. However while giving the verdict the FWC mentioned that in case the attendant accepted her fault the scale of punishment would have been much lesser (Richards, 2019). So this is the motto of the organization to increase a sense of responsibility among the employees in a business. 

Legislations in areas like annual wage review, anti-bullying act, enterprise agreements and bargaining, modern awards, termination and transitional instruments has improved the corporate governance and human rights issues in the industrial belt. Additionally the massive reduction in court cases has reduced the friction between shareholders and productivity of the companies has increased with better governance standards. 

Role of government, union and employers in employment relations in Australia 

The issue of employment relation depends on good relations between government, unions and the employers. In fact most conflicts in the industrial belt take place due to confrontations between unions and employers leading to slowdown in productivity and retrenchment. The Fair Work Commission focuses on laws that empower the workers and have built legislations like the fair Work Act 2009, 18 weeks of paid parental leave under national minimum Wage and Fair entitlement guarantee (consolidated payout during job loss for financial assistance) which has immensely benefitted the employees who were exploited for long (Cook, 2018). Governments in most countries including Australia, takes decisions keeping in mind of the employer which has resulted in massive protests multiple movements in the period of 1855-1875 and in 1973 (Australian Labour Movement) for 8 hour day, parental leave, fixed salary, bonus, pension an medical allowances (Douglas and Watt, 2018). So the formation of several labour Unions has strengthened the cause of the workers, and employment relations have improved over the last fifty years due to better understanding of each other’s issues. 

After the formation of the FWC the most sensitive areas of employee grievances like salary, penalty, rosters, allowances and overtimes have been addressed through a case-to case basis. For instance presently the trade union bodies are negotiating with the FWC to increase minimum wage to $18.93 an hour (Allen, 2018). So the ‘living wage’ as they have called it is trying to help migrant workers to have a decent lifestyle in the Australian suburbs. Joint parliamentary meetings and discussions between trade unions and employers have improved the situation of labours in Australia who have faced discriminations for far too long. 

Reforms in the Australian labor market: Role of FWC and modern awards

The labor market in Australia has seen massive changes after the formation of trade union bodies, institutions and commissions. The preferences of workers in doing jobs that suits their skills, experience and future goals have led to a drastic change in the ways industries operate today. Flexible work schedule, for instance has been one of the new developments. The fair Work Commission has been working with the Australian government to encourage employers and government bodies to formalize part-time flexible jobs which would minimize the rigidity in timings like a 9 to 5 job. Delaporte and Piracha (2018), said that 1 in 3 employees are working part-time in Australia today, which is by definition working less than 35 hours a week. Additionally the author say that the participation of women in the  workforce have been growing over the years and presently 37% of all full time jobs and 68.5% of part-time jobs are dominated by women. 

In the words of Preston (2018), the success of FWC has been visible in the fact that as per reports 47.8% employers have granted primary care leaves to workers and out of new appointments in the boards of directors, 45.4% are women. So keeping this transformation in mind the commission has framed rules including day shifts for women, allowing single fathers to get paternity leave, flexi-timing and additional healthcare facilities for critical diseases. This has improved the balance in the Australian industrial sector which was previously skewed towards men and had majoritarian representation; FWC has worked to successfully break the glass ceilings in every aspect leading to a more inclusive work culture (Newnam et al. 2019).

Issues affecting employment relations in Australia

The recent trends in the Australian industries has focused on the implementation of federal minimum wage, guidelines of national employment standards, awards and flexibility as well as penalty rates for violations and underperformance. Easthope, Stone and Cheshire (2018), in a detailed research have noticed that the fair Work commission have encouraged and awarded companies which have followed the above guidelines and improved their corporate governance activities. The modern awards have been given to those organizations which have implemented enterprise agreement as per fair work act which essentially sets the employment relations between the management and workers. Bargaining power among the works has been enhanced through these rules and Greenfield agreements have also been inculcated for long-term conflict negotiation activities. In the words of Richards (2019), protecting workers from bullying, termination and helping employers to prevent boycotts and protests have improved the efficiency of the Australian workforce and industries. Additionally sexual harassment, personal questions during interviews which are not related to jobs, racism in management policies all have been squarely addressed in the FWC charters even though there have been several instances of violations by both government and employers. 

Conclusion 

The fair Work commission has been able to address a lot of pertinent issues concerning the workforce including wage, work hours and allowances. The conflict resolution process of the commission has helped in solving disputes in a much quicker and easier manner. Addressing the core issues of employment, termination, discrimination and safety the FWC has set an example of building a fairer and transparent business environment which is beneficial to both the management and workers. As complexities grow further the importance of this commission will grow higher and they will have to play a far more active role in settling grievances and reducing friction between stakeholders in an organization. 

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