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


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

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

Cognitively impaired employee appeals rejected unfair dismissal claim

Industrial Instruments

If you get duped, it’s not our problem. That’s the message a Fair Work Commission (FWC) commissioner gave to an employee with cognitive difficulties when he missed an unfair dismissal application deadline, due to misleading online advertising. After the cleaner […]

By Portner Press on April 10th, 2019

FWO’s anonymous dob-in system is working

Industrial Instruments

Since the middle of 2016, more than 20,000 employees and other individuals have anonymously reported employers to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

By Portner Press on April 1st, 2019

Employee who had relationship with co-worker wrongfully dismissed

Industrial Instruments

Two romantically involved massage parlour employees, a massage therapist and a maintenance worker, have been awarded nearly $40,000 in an unfair dismissal claim.

By Portner Press on March 25th, 2019