Geography of the Australia

Covering a total area of 7.69 million square kilometres, mainland Australia is the world’s largest island – but smallest continent.In distance, the continent stretches about 3700 kilometres from north to south and 4000 kilometres from east to west, making it the sixth-largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil.

Australian Government

Australia has three levels of government – the federal Australian Government, the governments of the six states and two territories, and around 700 local government authorities. Australia has been a nation with a single national government since 1 January 1901. Although it is divided into states and territories which have their own state governments, we are all united as one nation……Click here to read more :

There are six states in Australia:

ausi states
Australia is divided into six states and two territories.

1.New South Wales, 2.Queensland, 3.South Australia, 4.Tasmania, 5.Victoria 6. Western Australia.(Click on each state for more information)(Click on each state for more information)

Each state has its own state constitution, which divides the state’s government into the same divisions of legislature, executive, and judiciary as the federal government.

The six state parliaments are permitted to pass laws related to any matter that is not controlled by the Commonwealth under Section 51 of the Australian Constitution. The monarch’s powers over state matters are exercised by a Governor in each state. The head of each state government is known as the Premier.

Conflict of laws

If the laws of a state ever conflict with the laws of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Constitution says that Commonwealth law is to be followed. The Australian federal judiciary may also have the power to review decisions by a state judiciary.

Source :

Constitutional Framework

The Commonwealth of Australia was established by the Commonwealth Constitution on 1 January 1901. The Commonwealth is a federation of six States and two Territories. The legal relationship between the States and the Commonwealth is defined by theCommonwealth Constitution. Although the Territories are now self-governing, the Commonwealth can choose to override any Territory law if it so wishes

Hours of Work

The standard working week in Australia is 38 hours. Awards, certified agreements and Australian Workplace Agreements generally contain provisions setting out ordinary hours of work, rest breaks and overtime and penalty rates. The average number of hours paid for in 2000 for full-time, adult, non-managerial employees was 39.8 hours.

(source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia (Catalogue 6306.0, 2001). Only a Full Bench of the AIRC may vary standard hours clauses in awards (s 106).

Many workers are able to use “flexitime”; this permits a worker to flexibly vary their working hours over a set period.

In New South Wales, awards can generally only prescribe working weeks not exceeding 40 hours (Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW) section 22).

Read more :  The Industrial Relations Act 1996(New South Wales )

Queensland law prescribes that employees cannot be required to work not more than either, 6 days in any 7 consecutive days, or 40 hours in any 6 consecutive days, or 8 hours in any day (Industrial Relations Act 1999 (Qld) s 9(2)).

Read more : The Industrial Relations Act 1999(Queensland)

South Australian and Tasmanian awards generally make provision for standard working hours similar to the other State.

Paid Leave and Other Leave Entitlements

Full-time and part-time workers receive at least fours weeks of paid annual leave each year (after 12 months’ employment) pursuant to Commonwealth, State and Territory awards and agreements or legislation. Any public holidays occurring during an employee’s leave entitles them to an equivalent extension to their annual leave. Workers generally receive a loading of 17.5% on their annual leave.

Workers also receive entitlements for long (and usually continuous) service. In most jurisdictions, workers are entitled to three months’ leave after working for the same employer for 15 years. Provision is made for such leave by legislation (and some awards) in all States and Territories (see, eg,Read More : Long Service Leave Act 1976 (ACT); Long Service Leave Act 1955 (NSW); Long Service Leave Act 1981 (NT); Industrial Relations Act 1999 (Qld);Long Service Leave Act 1987 (SA); Long Service Leave Act 1976 (Tas); Long Service Leave Act 1992 (Vic); Long Service Leave Act 1958 (WA)) and Commonwealth awards and agreements.

Maternity Leave and Maternity Protection

Maternity leave is available to female employees for a period of up to 12 months and is usually unpaid (Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) ss 170KA, 170KB, Schedule 14). However, many certified agreements now make provision for paid maternity leave of up to 12 months’ duration. Paternity leave cannot overlap with a spouse’s maternity leave, except for a period of one week at the time of birth, and together, both parents cannot take more than 52 weeks leave. Adoption leave is available to employees on similar terms to maternity and paternity leave (Workplace Relations Regulations 1996 (Cth) regs 30E–30ZD). In addition to the federal legislation, most States and Territories have enacted legislation pertaining to maternity, paternity and adoption leave, and many awards also provide for such leave.

Minimum Age and Protection of Young Workers

The Children (Care and Protection) Act 1987 (NSW) pt 4 prohibits the employment of children under 15 in a limited number of industries and where “the child’s physical or emotional well-being is put at risk”. Western Australian legislation prohibits the full-time employment of children under the age of 15 and for indecent purposes, but permits restricted employment outside school hours (School Education Act 1999 (WA) s 29; Child Welfare Act 1947 (WA) ss 107B, 108). Children younger than school-leaving age in the Australian Capital Territory are prohibited from being employed, except in light work and family businesses: Children and Young People Act 1999 (ACT) ch 10. Victorian law requires persons employing children under the age of 15 to obtain a fixed-term permit (Community Services Act 1970 (Vic) pt 3, div 9).


Legislation at the Federal and State levels prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination in employment (and other areas) on a number of grounds. These grounds, while not all covered by each of the anti-discrimination statutes, include: that the employee was involved with a trade union, and for reasons of the employee’s race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin. The relevant federal legislation is contained in a number of statutes: Disability Discrimination Act 1992(Cth); Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth); Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth); Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) Part VIA, Division 3. These statutes are augmented by State and Territory legislation: Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT); Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW);Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT); Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld); Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA); Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas); Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (Vic); Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA).


The national minimum wage is decided by the AIRC on application by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (on an annual basis) to vary certain awards, with employer groups, in most cases, opposing the application; Commonwealth and State governments are also entitled to make submissions. The decision of the AIRC is then, in the usual course, taken up by the various State industrial tribunals, some of which are obliged to take into account the Federal decision in adjusting minimum wages at the State level. Existing federal and state awards are then varied accordingly. Formerly known as “National Wage Cases”, these federal cases are presently referred to as “Safety Net Wage Reviews”. The expression derives from s 88A(b) of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth), by virtue of which one of the Act’s objects is to ensure that “awards act as a safety net of far minimum wages and conditions of employment.” Safety Net Wage Review decisions typically also affect wage levels negotiated for the purposes of collective statutory agreements. The minimum wage, at June 2002, was AU$413.40. In November 2002 the Australian Council of Trade Unions announced that it would seek a rise in the safety net wage of 5.7 per cent in 2003.

 Regulation of  Trade Unions and Employer Organisations

Trade unions and employer groups are comprehensively regulated at the federal level by the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) Parts IX, X, XA & XI, and are also subject to regulation by State and Territory governments. New Federal laws to regulate trade unions and employer organisations were passed by the Federal parliament on 16 October 2002, but have not yet entered into force. See the Workplace Relations (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) Act 2002 (Cth), and its companion, the Workplace Relations (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) (Consequential Provisions) Act 2002 (Cth). As under the existing law, it is important to highlight that the new laws will apply to both trade unions and employer organisations (referred to collectively as “registered organisations”), although it can be argued that many of the provisions are more relevantly directed towards the regulation of trade unions.

In Australia, trade unions can be registered at both State and Commonwealth levels. There are currently 44 federally-registered unions, many of which also have State and Territory branches. Union members comprised 24.7% of the workforce in 2000 (Australian Bureau of Statistics: Trade Union Members, Australia (Catalogue No 6325.0). A series of amalgamations in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in the consolidation of many smaller unions into “super-unions”, a considerable number of these now having over 100,000 members. There are also 69 registered employer organisations.

Collective Bargaining and Agreements

Federal legislation regulates two principal types of collective bargaining: bargaining for the purpose of making an award, and enterprise level-bargaining for the purpose of negotiating a certified agreement.

Workers’ Representation in the Enterprise

Australian labour law has nothing like the forms of ‘worker representation’ that characterise the systems of many European countries. At the workplace level, workers may be represented by trade union delegates. Employers are bound to consult with trade unions when contemplating certain types of redundancies: if an employer decides to terminate the employment of 15 or more employees for reasons of an economic, technological, structural or similar nature, the employer must consult with trade unions on measures to avert the terminations and measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the terminations (s 170GA)

Strikes and Lock-Outs

Liability for industrial action in Australia arises under both Federal and State legislation and the common law. Federally, industrial action is only permitted during a “bargaining period”: Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) s 170ML. Strikes or lock-outs carried out during a bargaining period constitute “protected action”; the Act confers limited legal immunity on protected action only (s 170MT). Generally speaking protected industrial action may not be taken during the life of a certified agreement or an AWA (ss 170MN and 170VU). At the time of writing, however, Federal law appears to permit protected industrial action during the course of a certified agreement if the subject matter of the negotiation is not already covered by an applicable agreement – Emwest Products Pty Ltd v AFMEPKIU [2002] FCA 61. This decision is the subject of an appeal to the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia that has been argued, but not decided. Three working days’ notice must be given before protected action can be taken (s 170MO) and the trade unions involved must have previously tried to genuinely reach agreement with the employer (s 170MP). The AIRC can suspend or terminate a bargaining period if it considers that the industrial action is threatening “to endanger the life, the personal safety or health, or the welfare, of the population or of part of it” or “to cause significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it”: s 170MW(3). The Commission can make an order stopping or preventing industrial action, and must hear and determine an application for such an order “as quickly as practicable” (ss 127(1), (3)).

Settlement of Individual Labour Disputes

Depending on the jurisdiction, individual labour disputes may be resolved either by access to a specialised tribunal, a specialised court, or a common law court of general jurisdiction. In the Federal system, individual disputes over the application of awards or agreements would be subject in the first instance in many cases to dispute settlement procedures contained in the applicable award or agreement. In the case of disputes over rights (for example, under-payment of wages), individual disputes would need to be pursued in the Federal Court of Australia, or in a State court of competent jurisdiction. (For constitutional reasons, the AIRC may not exercise judicial power, and so cannot be invested with jurisdiction to resolve disputes over rights, whether individual or collective). As noted above, there are however particular provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) that regulate termination of employment, under which individuals may have access to the jurisdiction of the AIRC for resolution of this particular type of dispute.

At the State level, individual disputes may be resolved in either the State’s specialist industrial tribunal (see Part 2 above) or in the common law courts of general jurisdiction.

Fair Work Act 2009

The Fair Work Act 2009 is an Australian law passed by the Rudd government after coming into power in 2007 to reform the industrial relations system in Australia. It replaced the previous Howard Governments Work Choices legislation. It started operation on 1 July 2009.

Code of Ethics for the South Australian Public Sector

Public Sector Management Act 1995 (South Australia)

 Work Place Gender Equality Act 2012

The objective of this Act is to promote and improve gender equality (including equal remuneration between women and men) in employment and in the workplace; and to support employers to remove barriers to the full and equal participation of women in the workforce, in recognition of the disadvantaged position of women in relation to employment matters; etc(Work Place Gender Equality Act 2012).

Workplace Health and Safety

An important employee relations area, Workplace Health and Safety covers legislation relating to an employee’s safety in the workplace.  Beyond legislation health and safety includes the need for organizations to consider an employee’s overall well being and how an organization can develop health and well being programs to improve their employment brand.The purpose and objective of work health and safety (Workplace Health and Safety) law in Australia is to provide a legislative framework for employers and business operators to take steps to ensure the safety of people they employ and others affected by their business or undertaking.Prior to 1 January 2012, each State and Territory in Australia had its own unique set of legislation for dealing with workplace health and safety issues. The purpose of the Workplace Health Safety Act was to impose uniform health and safety obligations on businesses and individuals across Australia and reduce the burden of having to comply with different obligations across different States and Territories.

Currently, the Commonwealth and all States and Territories, except for Western Australia and Victoria, have adopted the model WHS Act. 

Current Workplace Health and Safety Legal Framework

Jurisdiction                       :Commonwealth

WHS/OHS Legislation     :Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Regulator                          :Australian Government Commerce

Jurisdiction                       : New South Wales

WHS/OHS Legislation     : Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Regulator                          : WorkCover NSW

Jurisdiction                       :Queensland

WHS/OHS Legislation     :Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Regulator                          :Queensland Work Health and Safety

Jurisdiction                      :South Australia

WHS/OHS Legislation    :Work Health and Safety Act 2012

Regulator                         :SafeWork SA

Jurisdiction                      :Tasmania

WHS/OHS Legislation    :Work Health and Safety Act 2012

Regulator                         : Work Place Standards Tasmania

Jurisdiction                      : Australian Capital Territory

WHS/OHS Legislation    : Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Regulator                         :WorkSafe ACT

Jurisdiction                      : Northern Territory

WHS/OHS Legislation    : Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Regulator                         :NT WorkSafe

Jurisdiction                      : Victoria

WHS/OHS Legislation    : Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004

Regulator                         :WorkSafe Victoria

Jurisdiction                      : Western Australia

WHS/OHS Legislation    : Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984

Regulator                         : WorkSafe WA

Refer to the acts :  Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 , Work Place Health and Safety Regulation Act 2012 – South Australia, Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984

Public Sector Management Act 1995( Honesty & Accountability )

An act to impose duties of honesty and accountability on public sector office holders ,employees and contractors ; and for other purposes.Refer to the act : 

Types of Work In Australia

the truth is, realy hard to know all rules and because Australia has many laws to protect the worker, these turned out to be a subject that only a specialist could understand. Furthermore all the different rules, each state and municipality in Australia can legislate their own points related to the labour law.