In our second annual review of employment, workplace and
safety laws in Australia, we have focused on the frenetic rate of
change in the world of work.
In the past 12 months there has been much talk about the impact
of disruptive service providers – like Uber, AirBnB,
Airtasker and Service Central – on traditional jobs.
This new 'sharing economy' or 'collaborative
consumption' model is also transforming how Australian and
international employers engage with labour and service
As Catherine Livingstone AO, President of the Business Council
of Australia and Chairman of Telstra Corporation, recently
"Connectivity is changing the power relationships between
consumers and companies; it is fragmenting supply chains and
disrupting business models. It is changing the nature of work and
workplaces, and the shape of cities and urban environments. It is
also opening up new possibilities and new frontiers of
With these developments in mind, we asked leading Australian
employer and union representatives – Innes Willox (AiGroup),
Steve Knott (AMMA), Catherine Livingstone AO (BCA) and Tim Lyons
(formerly with the ACTU) – the following questions:
Do we have the right IR system for the workplace of the
Do our laws help or hinder productivity?
Does the system need to change to embrace the jobs of the
future and the impact of disruptive technologies?
How do we balance Australia's tradition of strong
employment protections, and the jobs the 'millennials' will
What do you most want to see come out of the Productivity
Commission Review of the Workplace Relations Framework? Will it
The Baird Government's re-election in NSW was the
exceptional event in a year of political instability. First-term
Coalition governments lost office in Victoria and Queensland, and
Federal Government leadership tensions came to a head in early
Added to the mix were shifting alliances among cross-bench
Senators, who made it difficult for the Abbott Government to
progress its legislative agenda.
While many reform bills stalled in the Senate, the Government
initiated the Productivity Commission Review of the Fair Work
Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). However, the Government took possible
changes to minimum wage-setting or penalty rates off the table
before the Commission could even consider those issues.
This year we again examine the workplace reform debate in the
broader context of the major economic indicators: productivity,
GDP, employment levels, wages growth and industrial disputes.
We highlight major legislative and policy developments along
with workplace and employment law cases from the past year.
There is also a new section on key 2015 developments in work,
health and safety law.
The review concludes with a brief assessment of the issues
likely to be at the forefront of Australian employment relations in
the run up to the 2016 Federal Election.
An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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