Love Your Work Career Consulting | Australia Workplace Relations – replace or embrace the ‘dysfunctional’?
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Australia Workplace Relations – replace or embrace the ‘dysfunctional’?

In December 2014, the Federal Government requested the Productivity Commission conduct an inquiry into Australia’s workplace relations framework (including the Fair Work Act 2009) as to how it can be improved- replace or embrace the ‘dysfunctional’ ? Last week the Commission’s draft report was released.

Inevitably change will be in store for most, if not all of us … But first let’s take a quick walk Australian workplace history…

  • 1 in 10 full-time workers earn more than the average of $2,548 per week and 1 in 10 earning less than $800 per week
  • Of the 10 million employees 50.5% are women – salaries not being so equal!
  • 1907 the year Australia first ruled in favour of a minimum wage
  • Between 1961-2011 the number of women in the workforce has risen from 35% to 59%
  • Prior to 1966 only single women could work for the Public Service – but had to ‘retire’ on marriage
  • 1966 25% of the workforce worked in manufacturing compared to 8% today
  • 1961 61% of workers were members of trade unions, 2011 it was approx. 18%
  • 1940 6% of all factory workers were under the age of 16 by 1968 –as opportunities for adults grew child labour fell to less than 1%
  • Mining is the best paid industry in Australia, sales workers averaging the lowest pay
  • The largest employing industries are health care and social assistance


Back to the current day…

As an Australian by choice and not by birth (and having worked in HR & recruitment for many years) one of the most complex areas I find to understand is … Awards! Does anyone understand them? Even the Productivity Commissions report states ‘Awards are an Australian idiosyncrasy with some undesirable inconsistencies and rigidities’.

The Commission’s inquiry into Australia’s workplace relations framework (including the Fair Work Act 2009) also considered a number of other topics including, penalty rates and the minimum wage. Last week the draft report was released for opinion.  Whilst the findings will not be ratified until November 2015 the general view is that Australia’s workplace relations framework ‘needs repair not replacement’ however ‘never the less, several major deficiencies need addressing’.

What will this mean for the average Australian worker?  See you in November!

To read the draft report:

With thanks to:


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