The Fair Work system

Updated time

Last updated

13 July 2016

The Rudd Labor Government was elected to federal office on 24 November 2007 on a platform which included a plan for significant reform of federal industrial relations.

The system proposed in Forward with Fairness, like the Work Choices system introduced by the Howard Coalition Government, was based on the corporations power in the Constitution rather than the conciliation and arbitration power.

This policy document has now largely been implemented with the passage of the Fair Work Act 2009 and the 1 July 2009 commencement of two new independent institutions – Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman. Other key changes include:

  • the phasing out of individual statutory agreements
  • modernisation of awards and the award safety net (effective from 1 January 2010)
  • expanding access to redress for unfair dismissal
  • re-introducing good faith bargaining provisions
  • creation of Fair Work divisions of the Federal Court and the Federal Magistrates Court.

Fair Work Australia, a similar quasi-judicial tribunal, assumed the role of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and its Registry, the Australian Fair Pay Commission and its Secretariat and the agreement-making function of the Workplace Authority. The Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman took on the functions of the Workplace Ombudsman and the general advice function of the Workplace Authority.