Employment and industrial relations legislation

Our information on employment and industrial relations legislation aims to help employers and employees achieve fair, equitable and productive workplaces.

Relevant laws, codes and regulations include:

Building and Construction Industry Portable Long Service Leave Act

This Act governs long service leave payments for workers in the Queensland building and construction industry. The scheme is administered by QLeave – the Building and Construction Industry (Portable Long Service Leave) Authority.

Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Act

The Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian and the Act protects the rights, interests and well-being of children in Queensland.

Administering the blue card system, which is a prevention and monitoring system for people working with children and young people, the Commission aims to create safe and supportive environments for children and young people and protect them from harm.

Fair Work Act

The Fair Work Act 2009 regulates almost all private sector workplace relations matters throughout Australia. It prescribes and regulates National Employment Standards, modern awards, enterprise agreements, unfair dismissals and industrial action. The Fair Work Commission receives its powers from this Act. Major changes were passed through parliament in October 2022 in relation to the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill.

Fair Work Regulations

Download the Fair Work Regulations 2009

Fair Work Commission

The Fair Work Commission is the national workplace relations tribunal. It’s an independent body with the authority to carry out a range of functions under the Fair Work Act 2009, related to private sector employment and wages.

Fair Work Information Statement

You must give all new employees a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement from the Fair Work website, when they begin their employment (or earlier).

Download the Fair Work Information Statement.

Modern Slavery Act 2018

The Modern Slavery Act 2018 established a national Modern Slavery reporting requirement and entered into force on 1 January 2019. Entities required to comply with the reporting requirement must prepare annual Modern Slavery Statements.

These statements must set out the reporting entity’s actions to assess and address modern slavery risks in their global operations and supply chains. The Australian Government will make these statements publicly available through an online central register.

The Act also requires the Australian Government to publish an annual Modern Slavery Statement covering Commonwealth procurement and investment activities.

Who must report?

Your entity will be a reporting entity if it:

  • has annual consolidated revenue of at least AU$100 million

and is either

  • is an Australian entity OR
  • a foreign entity carrying on business in Australia.

You must calculate your entity’s consolidated revenue in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards. Multiple reporting entities (such as entities in a corporate group) can choose to submit a single joint statement. The reporting requirement applies to both commercial and not-for-profit entities.

Reporting Period

Your entity’s reporting period means the financial year or other annual accounting period used by your entity. You need to begin reporting on your entity’s first full reporting period after 1 January 2019. You will also need to submit your statement to the Australian Border Force within six months after the end of your reporting period.

7 mandatory criterion

The Act sets out seven mandatory criteria for the content of statements.

  1. Clearly identify the reporting entity that is covered by the statement.
  2. Describe the structure, operations and supply chains of the reporting entity.
  3. Describe the risks of modern slavery practices in the operations and supply chains of the reporting entity and any owned and controlled entity.
  4. Describe what actions the reporting entity and owned and controlled entity is taking to assess and address the risks of modern slavery practices occurring in its operations and supply chains.
  5. Describe how the reporting entity and owned and controlled entity assesses the effectiveness of the actions it is taking to assess and address the risks of modern slavery practices in its operations and supply chains.
  6. Describe how the reporting entity consulted on its statement with any entities it owns or controls.
  7. Include information that you think is relevant but that is not covered by the other six mandatory criteria. You do not need to include information for this criterion if you consider your responses to the other six criteria are sufficient.

What if the report is not supplied?

The Government has the power to publicly ‘name and shame’ entities that fail to comply with the reporting requirement.

Voluntary reporting

If your entity is not required to comply with the reporting requirement you can chose to voluntarily comply. If you wish to provide a voluntary statement you must formally notify the Australian Border Force by following the instructions in the guidelines.

Is there a standard form for statements?

Unfortunately the guidelines do not provide a template report. This is a matter that Master Builders has urged the Department of Home Affairs to reconsider, to assist in the regulation of reports. Otherwise, examples of reports already received by the Department will be publicly available on an ‘online ‘register.

Key resources

The Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit (the Unit) in the Australian Border Force (ABF) is responsible for driving effective implementation of the Act. The Unit’s role includes providing guidance and support to entities about compliance with the reporting requirement.

You can contact the Unit and register for email updates by emailing slavery.consultations@abf.gov.au. The Unit has worked with businesses and civil society to develop the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act – Guidance for reporting entities to comply with the Act.

Additional resources can be found below:

Small Business Fair Dismissal Code

The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code came into operation under the Fair Work Act 2009 on 1 July 2009.

The Code outlines the steps to follow if you’re a small business employer dismissing an employee. You don’t have to follow the Code, but if the dismissal is consistent with the Code, Fair Work Australia (FWA) cannot find the person was unfairly dismissed.

Whistleblower rights and protection

Changes to the laws governing the protections for whistleblowers under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) came into effect from 1 July 2019 which means they will now apply to corporate, financial and credit sectors.

The changes to the whistleblower protections are summarised below:

  • Revision of the definition of eligible whistleblowers to now include officers, current and former employees, contractors and their relatives;
  • Allows protected disclosures to be made about a range of corporate misconduct or an improper state of affairs, but excludes most disclosures of personal work-related grievances from protection;
  • Provides increased protection for eligible whistleblowers by allowing anonymous disclosures and expanding the prohibition against victimisation or detriment towards them;
  • Increases penalties for breaching whistleblower protections (currently up to $10.5 million); and
  • Requires public companies, large proprietary companies and corporate trustees of superannuation funds to have developed and implemented a whistleblower policy from 1 January 2020.

If you are a company requiring a whistleblower policy, you should ensure that it contains the following key provisions:

  • The protections available to whistleblowers;
  • To whom disclosures that qualify for protection may be made and how;
  • How the company will support whistleblowers and protect them from detriment;
  • How the company will investigate disclosures that qualify for protection;
  • How the company will ensure fair treatment of employees of the company who are mentioned in disclosures that qualify for protection, or to whom such disclosures relate;
  • How the policy is to be made available to officers and employees of the company; and
  • Any matters prescribed by the regulations.

Find further information about whistleblower rights and protections.

Workplace Gender Equality Act

The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 focuses on gender equality in the workplace for both men and women, including equal remuneration and rights in relation to family and caring responsibilities.

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