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Industrial relations reform

On 26 May 2020, the Prime Minister the Hon. Scott Morrison MP announced the Australian Government's JobMaker plan in an address at the National Press Club. Part of this plan is to explore reforms to the industrial relations system to regrow jobs lost in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since June, the Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Christian Porter, has led the IR reform working group process bringing together employers, industry groups, employee representatives and government to chart a practical reform agenda. He has been assisted by Tim Marney, former West Australian Under Treasurer, as Deputy Chair. Five working groups were established to discuss potential solutions to key issues within Australia's industrial relations system. While the formal working group meetings concluded on 18 September 2020, the government is continuing discussions to settle a package of reforms.

Working groups:

  1. The Casuals and fixed term employees working group explored opportunities to increase clarity and certainty about casual employment arrangements.
  2. The Award Simplification working group explored ways to simplify awards in industries particularly distressed by COVID-19.
  3. The Enterprise Agreements working group explored ways to ensure a fair, transparent and simple agreement making system.
  4. The Compliance and Enforcement working group explored ways to further enhance the effectiveness of the workplace relations compliance framework, including addressing wage underpayments.
  5. The Greenfields Agreements working group focused on simplifying negotiation of agreements for new enterprises, activities, projects or undertakings.

Submissions, consultations and publications

The earlier discussion paper process, which was paused in March due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, has been a valuable mechanism for receiving stakeholder input on industrial relations policy issues.

The following consultations have been paused until the working group process is fully completed.

  • Cooperative Workplaces – How can Australia capture productivity improvements from more harmonious workplace relations
  • Review of the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016
  • Improving protections of employees' wages and entitlements: further strengthening the civil compliance and enforcement framework

Public submissions for the IR reform working group process have now closed. The approach to any future consultation on industrial relations policy issues will be advised once the working group process has concluded.

For the complete list of industrial relations consultations, visit consultations and publications.

Contact details

Send correspondence to the IR Secretariat at irsecretariat@ag.gov.au.