Fair Work Act review: have your say

Analysis

Fair Work Act review: have your say

A wide-ranging review of the Fair Work Act by the Productivity Commission will shape the future of workplace relations. Submissions are now being sought from all parties affected by the workplace relations legislation and system.

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A wide-ranging review of the Fair Work Act by the Productivity Commission will shape the future of workplace relations. Submissions are now being sought from all parties affected by the workplace relations legislation and system.

The review is due to be submitted to the federal government in November 2015, ahead of the scheduled date of the next federal election. The government announced the terms of reference of the review on 19 December 2014.

What the review will cover


The broad aim of the review is to examine the performance of the workplace relations framework and identify improvements to it.

“Framework” refers to the workplace relations system generally, indicating the review will extend beyond a review of the Fair Work Act only. It will also cover the institutions and instruments that operate under the Act, as well as the Independent Contractors Act 2006. The Fair Work Act has been in force since 2009.

The review is required to assess the impact of the system on each of the following:
  • Fair and equitable pay and conditions for employees, including maintenance of a relevant safety net
  • Unemployment, underemployment and job creation
  • Impact on small business
  • Impact on productivity, competitiveness and business investment
  • The ability of businesses and the labour market to respond appropriately to changing economic conditions
  • Patterns of engagement in the labour market
  • Ability of employers to manage work arrangements flexibly and engage with their employees
  • Barriers to workplace bargaining
  • Impact on employers of compliance and “red tape” requirements
  • Impact of industrial relations conflict and industrial action
  • Impact on scope for independent contracting
Other issues the review is required to assess are:
  • The Fair Work Act’s performance against its stated aims and objectives
  • Its impact on jobs, incomes and the Australian economy
  • Impact of the workplace relations framework according to business size, regions and industry sectors
  • The experience of workplace relations legislation and frameworks in other OECD countries

Recommendations required


The Commission is required to make recommendations about how the Fair Work Act and framework can be improved.

The recommendations need to take into account the need for workers to be adequately protected, the need for businesses to prosper and employ people, and the need to reduce “unnecessary and excessive” regulation. It must also provide a cost/benefit analysis of all its recommendations.

What happens next?


The Commission is now seeking submissions from all parties affected by the workplace relations legislation and system, to be sent here.

As well as receiving submissions, the Commission will conduct hearings and must release a draft report. Its final report is required in November 2015.

It is likely the Federal Government will release a response to the report’s recommendations before the next election scheduled for 2016, but unlikely it will introduce any amending legislation before the election.

Further information

The full terms of reference are set out here.

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