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States refer IR law making powers

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Late last year the Governments of Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia joined Victoria by formally referring their industrial relations law making powers to the Federal Government. Western Australia is now the only state with its own independent system of industrial laws.

This referral has significant consequences for sole traders, partnerships and trusts operating businesses in these states. Specifically:

  • From 1 January 2010 all private sector employers in Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria will be governed by the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Previously, only corporate employers operating in these states were covered by the act.
  • Private sector employees in the above states must comply with the National Employment Standards.
  • The state award systems in the above states will gradually be abolished and replaced with the national modern awards. During the transition period state awards that covered employers before 1 January 2010 will continue to apply for a period of 12 months.
  • State laws relating to occupational health and safety, discrimination and workers compensation will continue to apply in conjunction with the requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

If you are concerned about you obligations under the national employment system we would recommend that you:

  • Familiarise yourself with the modern award that will regulate the employment of your employees.
  • Consider engaging MST to perform an industrial relations compliance audit.
  • Consider entering into an enterprise agreement where the provisions of the applicable modern award do not meet the needs of your business.

For further information please contact one of our Workplace Relations lawyers

Author: Laughlin Nicholls