The area of employment and industrial relations is heavily regulated by statute law and places many obligations on employers.

The terms and conditions of employment for an employee are contained in a myriad of instruments including:

1.       Legislation;

2.       Awards and enterprise agreements;

3.       Employment contracts; and

4.       Workplace policies and procedures.

The main piece of legislation which governs most employers and employees in Australia is the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (‘the FW Act’).  The FW Act contains the National Employment Standards (‘the NES’) which provides the minimum terms and conditions of employer for employees covered by the FW Act. 

Modern Awards are instruments created under the FW Act which also provide the minimum terms and conditions of employment for employers and employees who are covered by the Modern Award. A Modern Award usually covers a whole industry or occupation. A Modern Award cannot provide any entitlements that go against the NES but can provide clauses which deal with the application of the NES or provide entitlement that are more generous than the NES. For example, the NES provide that full time permanent employees receive 4 weeks’ of annual leave.  A Modern Award may provide clauses dealing with the payment of annual leave loading (which is not covered in the NES).

Enterprise Agreements are enterprise-specific instruments between an employer(s) and a group of employees. Enterprise agreements must contain provisions which result in the employees covered by the same being “better of overall” than if covered by a Modern Award. If an enterprise agreement applies to an employee, an otherwise applicable Modern Award does not (however, the rate of pay in the enterprise agreement cannot be less than provided in the Modern Award).

To read more about the NES, awards and enterprise agreements please CLICK HERE

A Contract of Employment is a legally binding instrument between an employee and their employer. A contract of employment cannot provide entitlements that are contrary to legislation, the NES, an applicable Modern Award and/or an applicable enterprise agreement. CLICK HERE to read more about hiring and the contract of employment. 

Workplace Policies and Procedures can be utilised by employers to detail expected behaviours and procedures in place to deal with certain workplace incidents. CLICK HERE to access AFEI's template policies. Workplace policies and procedures should not be incorporated into a contract or employment/enterprise agreement. Doing so would preclude employers from unilaterally varying the terms of a workplace policy without obtaining the consent of an employee.

AFEI is fully equipped to assist employers with all aspects of employment relations, human resources and industrial relations. 

AFEI's website provides useful guides on the above and other topics including (CLICK on the topic for further information):

If you need further assistance on the above please do not hesitate to contact the AFEI Hotline on 02 9264 2000.