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Law Council of Australia


Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020

The submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Education and Employment in response to the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 (the Bill) was prepared by the Law Council of Australia.

It is some time since the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Fair Work Act) was enacted, and while there have been amendments made since then, it can be accepted that the legislative regime in various ways can be improved.

Further, given the current circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, amendments that assist to provide greater capacity to create jobs and improve the economy are to be encouraged.

However, care must be taken to ensure that in the desire to promote economic growth, conditions of employment for employees, including job security, are not unnecessarily eroded. As always, when considering employment law, it is necessary to strive for a fair balance between the rights of employers and employees.

An important aspect of the Fair Work Act is to establish mechanisms to resolve disputes that arise in the workplace. If not resolved, disputes can cause disruption and/or reduced productivity. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has various powers given to it in that regard. Its members have expertise in the field of industrial relations and in the resolution of disputes.

They are capable of acting as the ‘umpire’ and ruling on how disputes should be resolved in a manner that is fair in all the circumstances. As a broad observation, the Fair Work Act and the Bill could make more use of the FWC’s ability to exercise decision-making powers to resolve disputes where they cannot be resolved by discussion. Such powers (referred to as ‘arbitration’) when exercised allow an outlet for dissatisfaction that could otherwise lead to industrial action or otherwise reduce productivity.

You can read the full submission below.


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