On 19 March 2009 the Government introduced the Fair Work
(Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009
(Bill) to the House of Representatives.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide the transitional
arrangements that are required as a result of the amendments
outlined in the Fair Work Act. It is this Act which provides the
terms for the new industrial relations system which will operate in
Australia from 1 July 2009.
The transitional provisions address how current industrial
instruments and other arrangements will be treated under the new
The Bill also:
repeals the remainder of the Workplace Relations Act, renaming
it the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009;
makes transitional provisions to move employers, employees and
organisations from the old Workplace Relations Act system to the
new system; and
makes consequential amendments to other Commonwealth
legislation that are essential for the operation of the Fair Work
A second Bill will be released by the Government in the future.
This second Bill will deal with consequential effects that the Fair
Work Act will have on other Commonwealth and State legislation. In
total these two editions of transitional amendments along with the
Fair Work Act will comprise over 1000 pages of new legislation in
When do the transitional provisions begin to operate?
Like the Fair Work Act the transitional provisions will come
into effect on a number of dates. The majority of the amendments
are anticipated to begin their operation on 1 July 2009. Others
will begin at the same time the National Employment Standards (NES)
and Modern Awards are implemented on 1 January 2010.
The Bill updates the status of government authorities that
currently regulate industrial relations. The Workplace Authority
will continue to operate until 31 January 2010 allowing it to
continue assessing collective agreements and enterprise bargaining
agreements against the terms of the no-disadvantage test (which
will be replaced by the better of overall test on 1 January 2010).
Furthermore, the Australian Fair Pay Commission will operate until
31 July 2009 to allow it to complete the final wage review and the
Australian Industrial Relations Commission will cease to exist on
31 December 2009, allowing it to complete the award modernisation
Transition of Instruments
The main impact of this Bill on the majority of existing
employment arrangements is in its outline of the interaction rule
between existing industrial relations instruments with the new
instruments introduced by the Act. These include Notional
Agreements Preserving State Awards (NAPSA's), Collective
Agreements and Individual Transitional Employment Agreements
As a general rule these instruments will continue to operate
under the terms of the Workplace Relations Act. However, as of the
1 January 2010 these remaining instruments (some NAPSA's will
expire on the 31 December 2009) will need to be assessed against
the terms of the NES and the minimum safety net wages to ensure
that they meet these standards.
As a result any Collective Agreement or ITEA made before 1 July
2009 may need to be varied to comply with the higher standards
provided by these terms. If they do not, then the terms of the NES
or minimum safety net wages will be imported into the
We will provide further details in relation to these and other
areas outlined in the Bill in due course.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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