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An industrial instrument is any legislation or award, order, determination or industrial agreement in force under Australian legislation.

The most notable ones include The Fair Work Act, enterprise agreements, and modern awards.

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:

An enterprise agreement (or collective agreement) is an agreement made between a national system employer and some or all of its employees who are employed at the time the agreement is made.

A modern award is an instrument that records the minimum conditions of employment for employees it covers. These conditions are enforceable under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). In Australia, there 122 modern awards.

The minimum conditions provided under these instruments apply automatically and cannot be overridden by any other arrangement between the employer and an employee.

Industrial instruments help protect employers and employees from discrimination and health and safety violations, as well as ensuring equal pay and leave provisions.


Top stories for Industrial Instruments


Your questions answered: Do employees have to abide by the company’s grievance policy?

Industrial Instruments

Q My client’s employee chose not to use the employer’s grievance policy process and instead lodged an application direct to the FWC, alleging discrimination over being pregnant. If employees have a right not to use the employer’s grievance policy to […]

By Portner Press on June 21st, 2019

Tokyo Sushi franchisee fined $380,000

Industrial Instruments

A Tokyo Sushi franchisee who thought she could give her employees a raw deal has been hit with $383,616 in penalties from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). Ms Kiyoshi Hasegawa was personally fined $63,936 for underpaying 31 employees a total […]

By Portner Press on June 17th, 2019

11 steps to take when managing a pregnant employee

Industrial Instruments

If your employee becomes pregnant, you have additional legal obligations under the Fair Work Act that you must comply with. You must ensure that you: inform the employee of her rights; consult the employee about changes to her employment; manage […]

By Portner Press on June 14th, 2019

Toy retailer to face increased fines for underpayment of staff

Industrial Instruments

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) will not toy around with employers who think they can flagrantly flout employment laws by preying on vulnerable workers. Melbourne toy retailer IE Enterprises Pty Ltd, trading as Uncle Toys, and its director Eyal Israel […]

By Portner Press on June 12th, 2019

How to assess if a volunteer is actually an employee

Industrial Instruments

Have you carried out an assessment of your volunteer engagements recently? Just because a ‘volunteer’ is working for altruistic purposes does not mean that they are volunteers by law. In order to determine whether an employment relationship exists, as opposed […]

By Portner Press on June 5th, 2019

Your questions answered: Are part-time employees entitled to overtime rates?

Modern Awards

Q Our employee who is on a part-time contract with a set amount of hours per day is occasionally required to work additional hours. Are they entitled to overtime rates for these hours? A It would depend on the employee’s […]

By Portner Press on May 22nd, 2019

Are your contractors ACTUALLY contractors?

Industrial Instruments

Last month the Federal Government announced it would be providing $20 million in extra funding to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) over the next four years. Out of that funding, $9.2 million will be used to establish a dedicated unit […]

By Portner Press on May 20th, 2019

Appeal against FWC Deputy President’s callous decision upheld

Industrial Instruments

A full bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has effectively had to reschedule an unfair dismissal hearing because of a commissioner’s lack of empathy towards an employee who missed a deadline, because his two-month old son had been diagnosed […]

By Portner Press on May 13th, 2019

Your questions answered: How can we move our staff away from awards?

Modern Awards

Q Our staff are currently on various awards and we would like to move away from having to follow these awards. If we amend our current contracts of employment and ‘annualise‘ the remuneration (taking into account all allowances and entitlements, and the […]

By Portner Press on April 29th, 2019
3 workers meeting

Your questions answered: Are we allowed to limit the number of bargaining representatives when negotiating an enterprise agreement?

Industrial Instruments

Q Is an employer legally allowed to place a limit on the number of bargaining representatives that can participate during an enterprise agreement (EA) negotiation process? We have an EA that currently stipulates a total of seven bargaining representatives can […]

By Portner Press on April 26th, 2019