Workplace Relations in Australia

The Australian national workplace relations system establishes a safety net of minimum terms and conditions of employment and a range of other workplace rights and responsibilities.

Current workplace relations issues

The Government’s workplace relations programmes, services and information include:

  • The national workplace relations system – established by the Fair Work Act 2009 and other laws.
  • Paid Parental Leave – offers eligible working parents 18 weeks of government funded Parental Leave Pay at the rate of the National Minimum Wage.
  • Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) – provides financial assistance to cover certain unpaid employment entitlements to eligible employees who lose their job due the liquidation or bankruptcy of their employer, where the liquidation or bankruptcy occurred on or after 5 December 2012.
  • Building Code 2013 – outlines requirements for entities which are undertaking Commonwealth funded building work. The supporting guidelines advise Commonwealth agencies on the obligations concerning the Building Code 2013. The Building Code page is also an entry portal to the online tool for assessment of industrial instruments.

There are a number of related agencies that help deliver the Australian Government’s workplace relations system:


The Department of Jobs and Small Business (formerly Employment) is conducting a post-implementation review of the Fair Work Amendment (Transfer of Business) Act 2012 in accordance with Australian Government best practice regulation requirements. Additional information is available on the Review of Transfer of Business Amendments webpage.

A post-implementation review of the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Act 2012 is also being conducted by the Department. Further information on the review is available on the Review of the textile, clothing and footwear industry provisions in the Fair Work laws  webpage.

The Government has introduced legislation into Parliament to establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). The ABCC will be an independent regulator for the building and construction industry to ensure workplace relations laws are maintained on commercial building sites.

On 17 April 2014, an advance release of the Building and Construction Industry (Fair and Lawful Building Sites) Code 2014. The new code, which will come into effect when the ABCC is established, sets out the standard of workplace relations conduct expected from those contractors that want to perform building work funded by the Australian Government.

The Government has also introduced legislation to establish the Registered Organisations Commission—an independent watchdog established to ensure improved oversight of unions and employer associations. The Registered Organisations Commission will monitor and regulate registered organisations, including their compliance with strengthened governance and accountability requirements. The Commission will also educate registered organisations about the new obligations and ensure members of registered organisations are aware of their rights.