Labour and employment—Australia—Q&A guide

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Labour and employment—Australia—Q&A guide
  • 1. What are the main statutes and regulations relating to employment?
  • 2. Is there any law prohibiting discrimination or harassment in employment? If so, what categories are regulated under the law?
  • 3. What are the primary government agencies or other entities responsible for the enforcement of employment statutes and regulations?
  • 4. Is there any legislation mandating or allowing the establishment of employees’ representatives in the workplace?
  • 5. What are their powers?
  • 6. Are there any restrictions or prohibitions against background checks on applicants? Does it make a difference if an employer conducts its own checks or hires a third party?
  • 7. Are there any restrictions or prohibitions against requiring a medical examination as a condition of employment?
  • 8. Are there any restrictions or prohibitions against drug and alcohol testing of applicants?
  • 9. Are there any legal requirements to give preference in hiring to, or not to discriminate against, particular people or groups of people?
  • More...

Labour and employment—Australia—Q&A guide

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to labour and employment in Australia published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: March 2020).

Authors: People + Culture Strategies—Joydeep Hor

1. What are the main statutes and regulations relating to employment?

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FW Act) is the principal statute governing the employment of the majority of Australian employees, although some public-sector workers sit outside this coverage. The FW Act deals with the National Employment Standards, modern awards, enterprise agreements, minimum wages and other terms and conditions of employment, as well as processes for challenging terminations of employment. The FW Act operates in conjunction with other federal, state and territory legislative schemes relating to areas such as work health and safety and non-discrimination.

An individual’s employment is also regulated by applicable industrial instruments, such as a relevant modern award or enterprise agreement. Modern awards are determined and reviewed by the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) and provide a safety net of minimum pay rates and employment conditions. In 2019, the national minimum pay rate was set to A$740.80 per week, equating to A$19.49 per hour. They are also used in the approval process conducted by the Commission for assessing whether employees are ‘better off overall’ under a proposed enterprise agreement.

In the absence of coverage

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