Outcome 2 - Great workplaces

Outcome 2 aims to facilitate jobs growth through policies that promote fair, productive, and safe workplaces.

Throughout 2016–17 the Department supported the Government by providing advice on workplace relations policy (including in relation to the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the establishment of the Registered Organisations Commission) and managing the Commonwealth work health and safety framework. It also administered the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Recovery Program, and the Australian Government Building and Construction Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme.

Highlights

  • The Department advised the Government on implementation of its election commitment to protect vulnerable workers. The Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017, which was introduced into the Parliament on 1 March 2017, will strengthen the Fair Work Act 2009 with a view to deterring the underpayment of workers. The Department also supported the establishment of a cross-agency Migrant Workers’ Taskforce to provide advice to government on additional measures to protect migrant workers from exploitation.
  • The Fair Entitlements Guarantee Recovery Pilot Program continued to have a significant positive impact on the rate of recovery of funds advanced under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Scheme. In 2016–17, $47.99 million was recovered, building on the $54.43 million in 2015–16. As a result of this success, the program was made permanent from 1 January 2017.
  • The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 passed both Houses of Parliament on 22 November 2016. The Bill’s passage represented the culmination of three years of policy and legal work by the Department, with the first Bill to amend the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 having been introduced into the Parliament on 14 November 2013. To implement the legislation, the Department led the establishment of the Registered Organisations Commission and the process to appoint a Commissioner.
  • The Department provided policy and legal advice to support the legislation establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016, both of which commenced on 2 December 2016. It also provided policy and legal advice to support amendments to both the Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation and the code. The amendments commenced in February 2017.
  • The Department completed a review of Safe Work Australia’s role and functions as required under the Safe Work Australia Act 2008. A Bill to amend this Act in keeping with the recommendations arising from the review was introduced into the Parliament in May 2017.
  • The Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner led the improvement in safety in the building and construction industry according to more than 95 per cent of companies accredited under the Building and Construction Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme (2017 annual survey).
  • The Department worked with Comcare and APS agencies to improve early intervention, rehabilitation and return to work for injured workers, leading to significant improvements in the performance of the workers’ compensation scheme.

Challenges

  • The Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner is continuing to identify options for assessing accredited companies’ compliance with the National Construction Code performance requirements for building materials.
  • The Department continues to develop policy advice on a range of significant work health and safety matters as they arise—including the importation of asbestos, non-conforming building products, quad bikes and chemicals labelling.
  • The Department is also working to support Pacific Island workers through the Seasonal Worker Programme and to address exploitation of migrant workers in Australian workplaces through legislative reforms and the work of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce.

The Department is also working to support Pacific Island workers through the Seasonal Worker Programme and to address exploitation of migrant workers in Australian workplaces through legislative reforms and the work of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce.