Industrial Relations 101

Industrial Relations 101

Knowing the ins and outside of employment relations legislation isn’t high on many business owners’ priority lists, however, it is vital to running a business. It doesn’t matter if you are employing one or 100 staff, your business must comply with employment law or risk hefty penalties. Employment legislation is complicated and not easily understood, so getting help from professionals is worthwhile.  At ProcessWorx our HR consultants are well versed in industrial relations and can assist in applying them to your business. ProcessWorx often finds that employers who are penalised for breaking the rules are unaware and have not had proper procedures set up.

To improve the understanding of HR and employment law for small business owners we’ve outlined the key regulations in Australia.

Fair Work Act 2009 – The Fair Work Act is the primary legislation governing employment in Australia at a federal level. It covers employers under the federal industrial relations system e.g. Pty Ltd businesses.

Minimum Conditions of Employment – The Minimum Conditions of Employment is the legislation governing employment under the WA state industrial relations system. This covers businesses that are sole traders, unincorporated partnerships or unincorporated trusts.

National Employment Standards – These are 11 minimum conditions of employment that apply to all employees covered by the Fair Work Act under the federal system. These include:

  • Hours of work
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Casual conversion
  • Parental leave
  • Annual leave
  • Personal/carers, compassionate, family and domestic violence leave
  • Community service leave
  • Long service leave
  • Public holidays
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay
  • Fair work information statement and casual employment information statement

Modern Awards – Modern Awards are occupation based industrial instruments that set out terms and conditions of employment, in addition to the legislation above. There are Awards at both a state and federal level, these can differ greatly, so it is important to determine the correct coverage. Determining the correct Award for employees is equally important and is based on the type of work they perform. Awards outline conditions unique to industries such as,

  • Pay rates
  • Ordinary hours
  • Overtime rates
  • Penalty rates
  • Leave loading
  • Allowances and entitlements

Awards include minimum wages and skills based pay scales for employees covered by them.

If your business is operating under the incorrect industrial relations system or using the incorrect award to pay employees, you are at serious risk of fines and penalties from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is the government body that enforces compliance with the Fair Work Act for businesses in the federal system. They perform audits, checks and can issue penalties for employers who are not complying. A similar system exists within the WA government to enforce state industrial relations.

With an improved understanding of the Australian industrial relations system and assistance determining how these apply to your business from HR consultants, your business will be in the best position for compliance.

If you are unaware of how any of the above regulations or legislation affect your business or employees, please contact ProcessWorx and we can assist you to become compliant.

If you would like more information or want more information about industrial relations contact the ProcessWorx HR consultants on (08) 9316 9896. Visit our website for more information on HR and Work Health and Safety support for business owners

Follow ProcessWorx on LinkedInFacebookInstagramYouTube, and Twitter to keep up with the latest HR and Safety news.

Written by Danielle McNamee


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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.