Fair Work Act: A Major Survey

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4th November 2010, 11:02pm - Views: 2316

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Media Release

Fair Work Act: a major


November 4

Embargo: The findings of this study on the Fair Work Act are for

release after 1.00am on Friday November 5. To view the research


A survey released today on the Fair Work Act reports very

qualified support for the new laws amongst 1000 senior

workplace practitioners, and identifies significant flaws.

A comprehensive study on the new workplace relations laws released today

(November 5) supports some features of the Fair Work Act but also indentifies critical

areas of concern with key provisions, transitional complexity,and the costly

bureaucracy involved in its management.

In a speech given in Sydney today to a forum of leading Australian workplace and

human resources practitioners, the national president of the Australian Human

Resources Institute (AHRI), Peter Wilson AM, announced the study’s findings that

include the following:

Many respondents report that the ‘transfer of business’ provision frustrates

restructuring solutions and makes mergers & acquisitions more complex;

representative comments describe it as ‘anti-employment’ and ‘costly’.

More than one in three respondents (37%) believe the Fair Work Act will materially

decrease the willingness of organisations to employ people over the next three


Over half (53%) see the Fair Work Act having a negative impact on productivity

growth over the next three years 

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents report devoting more time to industrial relations

issues since the Fair Work Act.

More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents report devoting more time to

formulating employment contracts since the Fair Work Act

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The Australian Human Resources Institute

More than half (57%) of respondents report the Fair Work Act has made their job

more difficult.

Three quarters (74%) of respondents report an increased need for legal advice

since the Fair Work Act.

On the impact of the new unfair dismissal threshold on unfair dismissal claims,

72% report “no change”, though more than a quarter (26%) report it is harder to

make jobs redundant.

More than half of respondents (53%) report that it now costs more to deal with

industrial relations issues.

Nearly one in three respondents (30%) report it is more difficult to deal with

disputes under the Fair Work Act and 23% report an increased level of industrial

disputes under the Fair Work Act

Respondents indicate that cost, time and the need for legal advice are likely to

decrease in the near future.

External parties (e.g. Fair Work Australia, unions, legal advisers) are now having

significant roles in bargaining and dispute resolution which is adding time and

costs, uncertainty and often inconsistency of outcomes, depending, for example,

on which Fair Work Australia official makes a determination

More than eight out of ten respondents (83%) report organisational adoption of

“flexible working arrangements”, but some employees appear to believe the ‘right

to request’ means the ‘right to have’. 

The introduction of National Employment Standards seems to have had a

significant impact on structuring employment contracts through recent

inclusion of workplace flexibility arrangements, parental leave and community

service leave provisions.

Around three quarters of respondents report no material change since the Fair

Work Act to hours worked, employment numbers, general benefits, or leave


Nearly one in three respondents (31%) report overall remuneration has increased

as a result of the Fair Work Act, while only 2% of respondents report a decrease.

The study was commissioned by the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI),

overseen by a research team at Deakin University’s Faculty of Management and

Marketing, and supported by an expert panel of industrial relations practitioners

advising on question content. 

The study is based on an online survey of 970 HR practitioners from AHRI and 23

industrial relations practitioners from the Business Council of Australia (BCA). There

were no significant differences in the AHRI and BCA response sub-sets, so the

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consolidated responses of the 993 participants are covered in the report. The study

follows a similar AHRI survey on Work Choices in 2007.

Referring to the survey findings, AHRI national president Peter Wilson said:

“In the light of Australia’s flat performance in total factor productivity over the past few

years, the issue is less about choosing between Work Choices or the Fair Work Act

but much more about re-shaping the future capacity of the workplace relations system

to enable our globally competitive enterprises to restructure effectively and efficiently

while maintaining the principles of fairness and equity. 

“Against the standards of Australia’s businesses being able to respond quickly to

global competition as well as to the enhancement of workplace harmony, productivity

and equity, appropriate amendments to the Fair Work Act would appear to be highly

desirable if not inevitable.”

Media representatives are invited to view the full report of the findings at


About AHRI

The Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) is the national association representing human

resource and people management professionals.  AHRI leads the direction and fosters the growth of the

HR profession through actively setting standards and building the capability of the profession.

For further information contact:

Paul Begley, national manager, government & media relations, Australian Human Resources Institute   

(03) 9918 9232         0402 897 884             www.ahri.com.au

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