The Fair Work Act (FW Act) uses Commonwealth constitutional powers to extend its operation as far as possible. This includes the power to make laws:

  • in all its Territories, e.g. ACT and Northern Territory;
  • that relate to foreign, trading or financial corporations formed within the Commonwealth; and
  • to give effect to international treaties and conventions signed by Australia.

The coverage of the FW Act was extended further when referrals of power to the Commonwealth were negotiated with all States except for Western Australia. Victoria referred its power in 1996, and the remaining States have done so since.

These referrals of power were given effect through legislation passed by each State referring its power to make laws about workplace relations to the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth, namely the Fair Work (State Referrals of Power and Consequential Amendments to Other Legislation) Act 2009 and the Fair Work Amendment (State Referrals and Other Measures) Act 2009.

Territory private sector employment is always regulated by Commonwealth law. Therefore, all private sector employers in the ACT and the NT are covered by the FW Act.

This means that the FW Act now applies to approximately 96% of Australian private sector employers.


Top stories for Fair Work Act


Annualised wage clauses in modern awards

Industrial Instruments

Andrew Stirling, head of Tanda PaySure, has written to the President of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) about the ambiguities in the new modern award annualised wage clauses. The clauses commenced in 18 awards on 1 March 2020.  Mr Stirling’s […]

By Portner Press on March 5th, 2020

Your questions answered: Are casual employees entitled to overtime rates?

Industrial Instruments

Q   We have several casual employees who have been employed on a set hourly rate (no mention of overtime in their letters of offer) to work approximately 38 hours per week. Over the last couple of weeks this has […]

By Portner Press on March 5th, 2020

Your questions answered: Don’t shoot the messenger

Industrial Instruments

Q   Your Whistleblower Policy template suggests that a company will offer protection from detrimental conduct which includes ‘performance management’. Can you confirm if that is correct? I don’t believe that a whistleblower is exempt from being performance managed if […]

By Portner Press on February 24th, 2020

Your questions answered: Do we have to pay super to permanent part-time employees who earn less than $450 per month?

Industrial Instruments

Q If a casual employee earns less than $450 in a month they are not entitled to the superannuation guarantee. Does this apply to permanent part-timers as well? We have one employee who is working one day a week, who […]

By Portner Press on January 29th, 2020

Good intentions do not provide a reasonable excuse for not paying workers

Industrial Instruments

If a Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) inspector reasonably believes a person has not complied with applicable industrial laws, the inspector can issue a compliance notice requiring compliance. Failure to comply with the notice is itself a breach of the Fair […]

By Charles Power on January 22nd, 2020

How to keep your confidential workplace investigation reports out of court

Industrial Instruments

In some cases you might seek to have a lawyer investigate the facts or circumstances of an incident in the workplace, so they can give you professional legal advice about the implications of that incident for you and your business. […]

By Charles Power on December 18th, 2019

Your questions answered: Could our employee’s ongoing unpaid overtime result in a hefty back pay claim?

Industrial Instruments

Q Our employee claims he has worked an extra 30 minutes a day unpaid for about three years. This has not been expressly authorised but is not contested. Can a deed be used to effectively settle any back pay claims […]

By Portner Press on December 18th, 2019

Three quarters of ‘cheap eat’ establishments underpay their staff

Industrial Instruments

Are employers really concerned about correctly paying their staff? It appears many still aren’t. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) discovered this when it conducted an audit swoop on popular ‘cheap eat’ establishments in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide. The FWO […]

By Portner Press on December 17th, 2019

Your questions answered: Do we have to pay employees for non-compulsory training outside of work hours?

Industrial Instruments

Q If we are running a training session which is not compulsory and an employee chooses to attend that training on a non-working day, are we obligated to pay the employee for the hours spent at the training? We operate […]

By Portner Press on December 13th, 2019

Overworked professional employees – How do you comply with the Fair Work Act?

Industrial Instruments

Each week we read about another employer who has been allegedly not paying their employees for the hours they have worked. These cases are often not concerned with employers applying a pay rate that is less than the applicable award […]

By Charles Power on November 20th, 2019