Hawker Britton Occasional Papers and Media

Australia’s new workplace relations system

September 2008

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The Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, today outlined details of the Federal Government’s new workplace relations system.  The new system has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders, including the business community, trade unions and the States and Territories.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement today builds on earlier announcements.  These include:

The Government has committed to further consult with stakeholders and will ask the Committee on Industrial Legislation and state and territory government officials between 7 to 17 October 2008 to provide feedback on the draft legislation.

Legislation for the new workplace relations system is due to be introduced into the Parliament by the end of 2008 and will be subject to a Senate Inquiry.  The legislation is due to commence from 1 January 2010, however in today’s speech, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that the Government intends to commence key elements of the new system including the bargaining framework, unfair dismissal and associated protections on 1 July 2009, following passage of the Substantive Bill through the Parliament.

Government will introduce separate legislation in the first half of 2009 to set out transitional and consequential changes, which will explain how existing employers and employees move to the new workplace relations arrangements.

Existing minimum entitlements will continue to apply until the new safety net of Modern Awards and the National Employment Standards starts operation on 1 January 2010.

The Deputy Prime Minister also announced that Fair Work Australia will oversee the operation of the new legislation. There will be a short transition period where the AIRC and Fair Work Australia will operate concurrently, while the award modernisation task is completed.

Other key announcements made by the Deputy Prime Minister today include:

Detailed information on the Government’s workplace relations approach can be found here.

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