The Fair Work Act, 2009 and the associated regulations are a national initiative to create an Australian wide framework for employment and workplace relations.
Replaces older state and federal workplace relations systems
The Act replaces the previous national industrial relations systems as well as various state based systems, bringing together a new unified and modernised workplace framework. This Fair Work System will apply nationally to most workplaces.
Key changes to pay rates etc will be phased in
The provisions of the Act allow for the phasing in of changes related to pay rates, loadings and penalties over a number of years to eventually bring all workplaces in line with the Modern Awards.
The Fair Work Act aims to provide fairer and more transparent practices and provisions for employees whilst at the same time, maintaining a balance with the interests of employers.
Minimum entitlements for employees
Employees are given a safety net of minimum rights and entitlements relating to pay, overtime, hours, leave, holidays and other matters which cannot be stripped away. Unfair dismissal and anti-discrimination provisions are also addressed under the new fair work system.
All employees must be given a Fair Work Statement by their employer at the start of any new employment which outlines and summarises their rights and entitlements.
These rights and entitlements primarily derive from:-
- The 10 National Employment Standards created under the Act; and
- The Modern Awards which are maintained and updated by the Fair Work Commission under the powers of the Act.
What does this mean for me?
If you are an employer, you must be aware of the minimum entitlements that apply to your staff. You cannot contract out of these minimum entitlements. Have a copy of the relevant Awards on hand and keep yourself apprised of any changes.
As an employee, you should be aware of your rights and entitlements that are outlined in the Fair Work Information Statement, the National Employment Standards and your Modern Award.
If you are unsure of your rights or obligations under the Fair Work System, you can access helpful resources and advice here.