Contracts in Australia

Overview by

The Active Population in Figures

Main Indicators 2007200620052004
Labor Force 10 337 40010 605 0009 871 8009 572 200
Labor Force (Annual Growth, %) 2.901.703.10-
Rate of Activity (%) 64.864.564.263.5
Unemployment Rate (%)

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Employed Persons, by Occupation (% of Total Labor Force) 2006
Property and Business Services 12.0%
Health and Community Services 10.0%
Workmen 10.0%
Shopkeepers and similar 14.0%
Construction 9.0%
Farmers 3.0%
Defense 4.0%
Finance and Insurance 4.0%

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics


Management of Human Resources



Method of Recruitment
More and more applications are made by Internet. The classic method of preliminary interviews with agencies then recruitment by face to face interview is practised in Australia.
Recruitment Agencies
Michael Page, AC People and Polyglot (specialized in European profiles).
Recruitment Websites
My Career
Government agency

The Contract

Type of Contract
There are two main types of work contract:
- the most widespread is the Ongoing contract or permanent contract. It is an individual contract.
- the Fixed Term Employment contract of a similar type but fixed-term.

Note also the collective agreements (certified/Enterprise Agreements) a result of negotiations between employers and employee unions, and the Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA), the fruit of individual negotiations between employer and employees; these will be terminated by the new Labor government (no more AWAs since 28 March 2008).
Breach of Contracts
  • Retirement
There are no different forms of retirement in Australia and no minimum age for retirement.
  • Dismissals
An employee who is dismissed has only one week's notice (none at all in the case of dismissal for professional misconduct). There is no administrative authorization for dismissal.
Labor Laws
Australian Industrial Relations Commission
Employment Law

Dispute Settlement


Conciliation Process

Cases of Dispute
Unfair dismissal or unlawful termination
  • Legal Framework
Before going to court, there is a conciliation procedure. This is carried out within the framework of the commission (AIRC) whose very function is to settle disputes. The commission conducts hearings, etc.
  • Procedure
Defined in the Workplace Relations Act 1996.
A transition Act was passed by Parliament on 28 March (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Act 2008.

Judicial Structures

  • Legal Framework
Defined in the Workplace Relations Act 1996.
  • Competent Legal Body
Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC)

Social Partners

Social Dialogue and Involvement of Social Partners
There are about 132 unions in Australia organized by trade association.
Because of the increase in the proportion of the workforce which is not unionized, the credibility of the unions has diminished over the last few years, but powerful relations continue to exist between unions and the Labor Party.
Legal provisions govern work contracts. They were reformed and then enforced from 27 March 2006. However, the new Labor government in power since December 2007 wants to query this legislation.
The new system provides a unique ensemble of simple rules which can be applied nationally. The Workplace Relations Act which includes the new rules of WorkChoices is available for downloading.
The first role of the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) is to supervise the enforcement of agreements in the work context. The OEA also provides:
- advice and information for employers and employees who wish to draw up a contract together
- assistance for employers and employees to understand the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard
- it verifies the legitimacy of agreements between employers and employees before they come into force
- it explains the content of agreements to people with specific needs (for example: young people, people from a non-English speaking background).
Unionization Rate
In Australia it is not compulsory to join a union. Unions are represented by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU); these represent more than 2 million Australian workers, i.e. 22% of the active population.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
Regulation Bodies
Department of Employment

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