Industrial Relations In Australia Essay


Discuss about the Industrial Relations in Australia.



The following paper discusses about the various aspects of the industrial relations that have been predominant in the country of Australia. Australia has been a country where the laws and regulations for the work in government organizations have changed many times over the past two decades. This proves that the employees have suffered many setbacks from time to time in this time. The relationship between the employers and the employees has always remained at the focal point when discussing these facts. In this paper, the concept of the employee-employer relationship has to be discussed along with the description about the Fair Work Act that was designed in the year 2009. Many things are related in this scenario. The things like Neo-Institutional approach will be discussed here. The parties like the individual employees in the workplace, the workers’ unions and the interference of the political parties, the role of the employers and their respective associations and most importantly the role of the government in this aspect will be explained here. The fair work commission has a big role to play here as well.

Neo-Institutional approach

Neo Institutional theory has been considered as one of the most important approaches or theories in the modern context (Fredriksson, Pallas and Wehmeier 2013). This is because it has a lot to do with politics in the modern workplaces. In this theory, the principal perception is to clarify how the organizations should be run in the new era. This includes the development of the institutions, spreading their names and how they become legitimate organizations by getting involved in one after another (Fredriksson, Pallas and Wehmeier 2013). This theory has been regarded as one of the most important aspects in the entire culture of the workplaces and organizations in this new era. The government organizations are not excluded from feeling the impact of this theory as well. This encompasses the cultural traditions and beliefs in the new period of business revolution.

The first focuses that were being laid on to the factors of neo institutionalism were the isomorphism and legitimating (Salomon and Wu 2012). This approach did not put much attention on the human orientation. These certain public policies had an effect on the growth and development of the organizations. The two theories that are combined with the advent of this approach or theory are institutional theory and resources dependence theory. This approach has been evolved through the economy development and it helps to recognize the institutions that are considered to be informal. This approach has its roots in the political science where it derives the opinion of the rational selection of the individuals within the society as well as the social institutions (Salomon and Wu 2012). This recommendation of this theory is that the State must be strong in nature but its powers and influences must be limited in nature (Suddaby, Seidl and L? 2013).

Workplace Relations Act 1996

The workplace relations act is a legislative framework that addresses the work choices that the employees can opt for or relate themselves to in a real time (Workplace Relations Act 2017). It was designed for the employees and the employers as well. The Work Choices had been one of the important subparts in that particular legislation. The contemporary government in Australia had made several changes before introducing this act for the public and they enforced it in the Federal industrial relations in Australia (Workplace Relations Act 2017). These changes in the Work Choices in the Workplace Relations act include the various factors like:-

  • Using of secret ballots in the industrial action was made to be mandatory (Frege 2017).
  • Five minimum workplace conditions had to be created (Workplace Relations Act 2017).
  • A single national industrial relations system had to be formed and applied in every corporation within the country.
  • The allowable matters which could have been covered by presenting awards, had to be reduced in a good number.
  • Certified Agreements and Australian Workplace Agreements had to be created so that the employees could have a better future in the organizations (Workplace Relations Act 2017).
  • Restrictions were created in the matters that could be allowed anyway.
  • The concept of pattern bargaining was completely outlawed by this legislative framework (Frege 2017).
  • The companies which had less than 101 employees because of the unfair dismissal by the companies were exempted from government registers (Workplace Relations Act 2017).

Fair Work Act 2009

This legislative framework for the better employment relations has been very effective in terms of the entire employment relations in Australia. As a whole, this is called the national workplace relations system (Fair Work Ombudsman 2017). This system was designed for a balanced framework for the productive workplace relations in the workplaces around the country. The things that have been outlined in this act are:-

  • It has said about the terms and conditions of the employment from perspectives of both the employer and the employees.
  • All the rights of the employees, employers and the organizations have been outlined in this framework. These rights include the recruitment process, employee retention, termination and many other related processes (Fair Work Ombudsman 2017).
  • This act also provides the employees for a guaranteed safety net of fair and relevant minimum terms and conditions that secures the rights for both of them. They get this security through the National Employment Standards (NES), Modern Awards and National Minimum Wage orders. These things have helped to create a safe working environment for the employees (Fair Work Ombudsman 2017).

Pluralism approach in the neo institutionalism theory

The neo institutionalism has been divided into two approaches that are the pluralism and unitarism. The approach of pluralism has got the more affinity with the current industrial relations all over the world. Some of the features in the neo pluralism approach are:-

The balance of the individual rights for the workers with the corporate social responsibility of the employers

Significance of the community action on the voluntary basis with the moral construction of the employee organizations

The families, schools and other social institutions have to take the roles of creating a good character

The existing social institutions have to be regenerated

The role of the moral and social cohesion lies on the hands of the trade unions in the workplaces. It has been said by the experts that the pluralism creates a certain representation gap in the society as also it tends to weaken the flavor of the democratic society. The staff associations, trade unions and the employee organizations must consult with themselves about certain things because they are the most important things in the industrial relations. The neo-pluralism has gained some important significance in the Australian context. This approach is quite superior in many aspects. These are:-

  • This would be able to provide a normative framework in the Australian context and relating to the premises that have been described in the Fair Work Act 2009.
  • This approach depicts that the employment relations is quite an assymetrical one. This is inclined towards the employer mainly.
  • Some employers are ethically very careless and do not have the chance to co-exist with the employees. The way to make them aware about these responsibilities is to apply the ethical hegemony.
  • This approach establishes a strong ethical cohesion for the social partnerships between the employees and employers at the workplace.

These things will help to build a symmetrical connection with the Fair Work Act 2009 where the employees must be given certain facilities in the workplace and they must not be deprived of their primary rights. They cannot be forced to do anything or indulge into unethical works forcefully.

National Employment Standards

The National Employment Standards are the standard legislative framework for the compliance in the Australian business environments (Fair Work Ombudsman, 2017). These rules and regulations have to be maintained by all the organizations, irrespective of their market size, industry or the other unique conditions. The elements that fall under this are:-

  • Working hours for employees
  • Right request for flexible working hours and arrangements
  • Parental leaves (both maternal and paternal)
  • Personal and compassionate leaves
  • Public holidays
  • Long service leaves
  • Termination notice and redundancy pay
  • Fair work statements
  • Community service leaves
  • Annual leaves

The role of the employees, employers, employee unions, employer associations and the government itself has a huge role to play in the industrial relations in Australia (Fair Work Ombudsman, 2017). The various roles that the unions play in this modern business environment are:-

  • They work with the management to solve the issues at workplace (Nicholson-Crotty Grissom and Nicholson-Crotty 2012).
  • They work as advocates for the employees
  • They make sure that the employers meet with the minimum obligations
  • They see to the fact if the workplace safety laws are obeyed by the employers (Nicholson-Crotty Grissom and Nicholson-Crotty 2012).
  • They indulge in the bargaining process with the employers to come to a negotiable agreement (Shaw, Kristman and V?zina 2013).

The employer associations make the policies for the employees and work to if the employees are suffering from any problems in the workplace (Poole 2013). They set up policies for the employees to work within the organizations and maintain the integrity at the workplace. They also consult with the representatives to fix the strategies for the growth of the organization, planning to celebrate the different occasions, celebrating the birthdays of the employees and many more (Poole 2013).

The government also has some contributions in maintain good industrial relations at the workplace (Deakin and Morris 2012). They regulate the legislative frameworks to maintain inside the organization. The government also fixes a certain range of wages for the employees at different standards. They also help to set the minimum wages at the workplace. The government sets the different workplace determinations that are made in the case of the low paid employees. The other cases in which the government can interfere are the unfair dismissal, industrial action, right of entry of the trade union officials to the workplaces, disputes the settlements in the organizations, transfer of business and some other important factors (Bamber 2013).


The conclusion to this paper can be drawn by saying that Australian industrial relations have been a trajectory of a number of things beginning from shifting to the neo institutional theory and the introduction of new laws and regulations in the country. The acts like Fair Work Act 2009 and the Work Choices in the Workplace Relations Act 1996 has been effective in determining the relationship between the employees and employers in the organizations. The role of the employee unions or the trade unions, employer organizations and the government has a huge impact in defining the industrial relations of the country.


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