Workplace laws for Queensland public sector employees are about
to undergo a significant realignment, with the introduction of the
Industrial Relations Bill 2016 into State Parliament last week.
The Bill, which is a weighty 796 pages, is based on the
recommendations of the Palaszczuk Government's independent
review chaired by Mr Jim McGowan AM (McGowan
reflect that Queensland's industrial relations jurisdiction
now almost exclusively covers Queensland and local government
employees; , and
align the workplace relations framework for the State's
public sector employees more closely with the Federal Fair Work
Given the Bill's complexity, this Alert will only give a
snapshot of its key features - we'll delve into the detail in
the coming weeks.
The Industrial Relations Bill at a glance
The Bill would repeal the Industrial Relations Act 1999 (Qld),
and amend dozens of Queensland Acts, most importantly the:
Anti-Discrimination Act 1991;
Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011;
Ombudsman Act 2001;
Public Service Act 2008; and
Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.
At its heart, according to the Minister, are:
"a set of minimum employment conditions and
collective bargaining as a cornerstone for setting wages and
a set of individual rights to fair treatment;
effective, transparent and accountable governance and reporting
obligations for all registered industrial organisations and
employer associations; and
a strong and effective independent umpire."
Minimum employment standards
The Bill will retain the Newman Government's adoption of
minimum core employment standards, and will further align them to
the National Employment Standards. This will include standards for
parental, carers' and compassionate leave, and a mandatory
information statement when an employee starts work.
Contemporary and emerging IR matters such as workplace bullying,
domestic and family violence, gender equality, work-life balance,
and changes in standard working arrangements have all been
recognised in the Bill.
It will introduce:
workplace bullying remedies similar to those available under
the Fair Work Act;
general protections to protect public sector employees from
adverse action similar to those available under the Fair Work
an entitlement to paid leave for victims of domestic and family
violence (with Queensland the first State to do so); and
a right to request flexible work arrangements.
Collective bargaining will continue to be the basis of
establishing wages and employment conditions of state and local
The Bill is intended to reflect the McGowan Review's
recommendation for a modified collective bargaining model in which
the objective of bargaining is to reach agreement. Arbitration is
triggered only as a last resort.
The Bill provides the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission
(QIRC) with exclusive jurisdiction to deal with
all workplace related anti-discrimination matters. Currently, the
Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
(QCAT) has jurisdiction to hear such matters.
Workplace anti-discrimination matters will continue to be dealt
with by the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland in the first
The Minister says that the Bill will "ensure reporting,
training and other obligations are directed at ensuring
accountability to members". Financial reporting requirements
for industrial organisations and the training requirement for
officers with financial management duties will be similar to those
of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009.
Next steps for the Industrial Relations Bill 2016
The Bill has been referred to the Finance and Administration
Committee, which must report by 28 October 2016.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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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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