FWC adopts ‘New Approach’ to workplace relations

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FWC adopts ‘New Approach’ to workplace relations

A pilot program implemented by the Fair Work Commission to help parties bargain more effectively, resolve conflict and promote innovation and productivity will become a permanent feature of the commission’s work.

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A pilot program implemented by the Fair Work Commission to help parties bargain more effectively, resolve conflict, and promote innovation and productivity will become a permanent feature of the commission’s work.

FWC president Justice Iain Ross announced the news this week, noting that the commission's New Approaches pilot program had been a successful initiative. 

​The program started in May 2014 in response to the 2013 amendment to the Fair Work Act 2009, which provided the commission with the new function of ‘Promoting cooperative and productive workplace relations and preventing disputes’ (s576(2)(aa)).

The New Approaches focus


Under the New Approaches program, Commission Members work with parties to: 
  • promote cooperative and productive workplace relations through interest-based approaches to enterprise agreement bargaining 
  • develop new ways of resolving workplace conflict using interest-based problem-solving 
  • facilitate change and foster innovation through new ways of collaborating outside of the bargaining cycle, and before a dispute occurs.

Justice Ross said feedback from parties who took part in the New Approaches pilot was positive.

He said he was pleased it would now become a permanent feature of the tribunal’s work, alongside the commission’s traditional dispute resolution functions.

"New Approaches shifts the focus of the commission’s role from simply resolving conflict to promoting cooperative and productive workplace relations that facilitate change and foster innovation,” he said. 

“Financial, operational and industrial outcomes to date have been promising in a number of New Approaches matters, with parties genuinely engaging with a more interest-based, less adversarial approach to their workplace relations. 

“By embedding the New Approaches function alongside the commission’s traditional dispute resolution jurisdiction, we are able to provide parties with advice and assistance before issues arise and potentially prevent costly and disruptive disputes.”

During the pilot stage the commission opened 20 New Approaches files, developed extensive information and training materials and conducted workplace community workshops. ​

Case studies


A number of case studies have also been developed, outlining the experiences of parties who participated in the pilot program including Sydney Water and the ASU Water Division and Orora Fibre Packaging and the AMWU Printing Division. 

To support the new program the commission has also published a New Approaches application form (Form 79) on its website.
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