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What is industrial law?

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Industrial laws regulate the relationship between employers and employees.

For employees who work for a Queensland Local or State Government, or a Queensland Statutory Agency (eg. Qld Health, Qld Police Service or Electoral Commission Qld), most of the relevant industrial laws are found in the Industrial Relations Act 2016. For most other employees, relevant industrial laws are found in the Fair Work Act 2009.

Both the Industrial Relations Act 2016 and the Fair Work Act 2009 deal with matters such as minimum wages, unfair dismissals, general protections, discrimination, employment standards and legal industrial instruments.

An industrial instrument is a document that determines the specific terms and conditions of employment for particular employees. Industrial instruments can be awards, enterprise agreements or other industrial documents made under previous workplace relations systems.

Industrial instruments can apply to specific industries, specific occupations or specific employers and they usually include reference to the following matters:

  1. Employer consultation obligations;
  2. Minimum wage rates;
  3. Allowances;
  4. Superannuation;
  5. Ordinary hours of work;
  6. Overtime rates;
  7. Meal breaks and rest breaks;
  8. Annual leave;
  9. Personal/carer’s leave;
  10. Compassionate leave;
  11. Community service leave;
  12. Public holidays;
  13. Redundancy entitlements; and
  14. Termination of employment.

Not all employees are covered by an industrial instrument. Some employees are referred to as “award and agreement free employees” because there are no industrial instruments that apply to their employment. The legal employment standards contained in the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Industrial Relations Act 2016 will still apply to those employees.

The employment standards for both federal and state employees deal with the following matters:

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work;
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements;
  3. Parental leave;
  4. Annual leave;
  5. Personal/carer’s leave;
  6. Compassionate leave;
  7. Community service leave;
  8. Long service leave;
  9. Public holidays;
  10. Notice of termination; and
  11. Redundancy pay.

The Fair Work Act 2009 and the Industrial Relations Act 2016 are not the only industrial laws in Australia. Industrial laws can also be found in other legislation including:

  1. Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Aus)
  2. Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)
  3. Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Aus)
  4. Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Aus)
  5. Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Aus)
  6. Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Aus)
  7. Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (Qld)
  8. Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld)
  9. Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Aus)
  10. Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)

The industrial laws in Australia and Queensland are some of the most complex workplace laws in the world. It is therefore important for employees and employers to get legal advice from experienced industrial lawyers in relation to their rights and obligations under relevant industrial laws.

Contact the team at Preston Law Firm in Cairns for a free initial consultation in relation to your industrial law issues.

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