Outcome 2

Outcome 2 facilitates jobs growth through policies that promote fair, productive and safe workplaces.

The department, with its portfolio agencies, works to achieve this outcome through managing the workplace relations legislative framework, conducting policy research and analysis and operating a guarantee of employee entitlements.

During 2013–14, the department progressed the Australian Government’s workplace relations’ priorities by supporting the introduction of legislation into parliament and conducting several policy reviews.

The department continued to administer the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, which assists people who have lost their jobs due to the insolvency of their employer and are owed outstanding employment entitlements. In 2013–14, more than 9000 people were paid their entitlements.

The department has once again made an important contribution to the annual wage review conducted by the Fair Work Commission. The department worked closely with the Treasury to provide the Fair Work Commission with up-to-date economic and labour market information to inform its decisions on minimum wages and appeared in front of a full bench of the commission to put forward the government’s evidence. The department has also been working, in conjunction with the Fair Work Commission, on the four-yearly modern awards review.

Using data gathered from the workplace agreements database, the department publishes a quarterly report, Trends in federal enterprise bargaining, which provides information on wage increases and agreement-making under the federal workplace relations system. This information is used by the Reserve Bank of Australia and other analysts to monitor wage developments in federal enterprise agreements across the economy.

Major achievements

The department, through Outcome 2, achieved the following:

  • Development of Bills to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, to establish the Registered Organisations Commission.
  • Provision of policy and legal advice to the government during the development of the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014, which implements a number of the government’s election commitments to improve the Fair Work laws.
  • Development of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, which was introduced into parliament in March 2014. The amendments expand eligibility for companies to self-insure and reduce the red tape associated with the application process. They also exclude compensation for injuries occurring during recess breaks away from work and injuries resulting from serious and wilful misconduct.
  • Review of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Fair Protection for Firefighters) Act 2011. The review was finalised on 24 December 2013 and a report was released on 3 February 2014.
  • Through its membership of Safe Work Australia, the development of model codes of practice to explain how employers and employees can comply with the work health and safety laws.
  • Advancement of around $197 million under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee and the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme to 11,255 Australian workers after they lost their jobs as a result of their employers’ insolvency.
  • Establishment of the Centre for Workplace Leadership in mid-2013. The centre was launched by Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz, Minister for Employment, at the University of Melbourne on 20 February 2014.
  • Support for the development of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management.
  • Support for an independent consultant to review the Road Safety Remuneration System. The aims of the review were to examine and report on the operation of the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012 and the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and to assess whether the system is an effective and appropriate means of addressing safety concerns in the road transport industry.

Challenges

During 2013–14, significant changes were made to the administration of claims under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee to finalise the transition to the legislative arrangements for the scheme that were introduced in 2012–13. Business processes and workflows were redesigned and business systems were reconfigured to increase the quality and efficiency of the administration of the programme and achieve stronger programme compliance. These changes to the operating environment resulted in transitional disruptions to the claims workflow and delays in finalising claim assessments. The department is closely monitoring the timeliness of claims processing and ensuring that there are minimal delays for claimants.