Workplace Authority

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The Workplace Authority was an Australian Federal Government statutory agency that existed from 1 July 2007 to 1 July 2009. It replaced and expanded the role of the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA), which had been in place since 1997. It was itself replaced by the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Australia (since renamed the Fair Work Commission).

Overview[edit]

The primary role of the OEA was to accept the lodgement of Australian workplace agreements. In March 2006 the OEA's role was expanded to include the lodgement of collective agreements.

The Workplace Relations Amendment (A Stronger Safety Net) Act 2007 received royal assent on 28 June 2007, establishing the Workplace Authority and introducing the Fairness Test.

The Workplace Authority Director, Barbara Bennett, was responsible for assessing whether agreements lodged on or after 7 May 2007 passed the Fairness Test, however she also agreed to be the front of the Howard Government's WorkChoices advertising campaign in 2007 and received heavy criticism for her role.[1] The Workplace Authority also received strong criticism in relation to the enormous backlog of unassessed Workplace Agreements since Barbara Bennett's appointment.[2][3]

The Fairness Test was applied to Australian workplace agreements and collective agreements to ensure they provided fair compensation for the removal or modification of protected award conditions, such as penalty rates and overtime loadings.

The Workplace Authority could, upon request, carry out a pre-lodgement review of an agreement to assess whether it would pass the Fairness Test. Additionally, the Authority provided free support and advice to employers, particularly those in the small business sector, and employees in the areas of agreement-making and lodgement of agreements, as well as advising on prohibited content and whether agreements met the minimum requirements as set in the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard.

The Workplace Authority was located in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. It also operated a Workplace Infoline for workplace relations queries between 8am and 7pm on weekdays across all states. The Workplace Authority's contact centre in Brisbane won an Australian Teleservice Association (ATA)[4] award in 2008 for the best contact centre in Queensland (less than 50 fte[5]).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murphy, Damien (30 July 2007). "Face of WorkChoices takes flak for ad blitz". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  2. ^ Fairness Test Backlog Continues To Grow
  3. ^ Backlog on Fairness Test
  4. ^ http://www.ata.asn.au/content.asp?pID=14
  5. ^ Australian Teleservice Association website