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


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

Fashion start-up fined $330K for illegal use of interns

Industrial Instruments

Start-up director of Her Fashion Box discovered the really high price of fashion when she thought she could classify her employees as ‘interns’ to avoid paying correct award rates.

By Portner Press on March 15th, 2019

Your questions answered: Can we ask if our employee has another job?

Industrial Instruments

Q: As an employer, can we request that staff declare if they hold a second job?

By Portner Press on March 8th, 2019

Can two jobs with the same employer count as one?

Industrial Instruments

In Lacson v Australian Postal Corporation (2019) an Australia Post employee worked two part-time jobs at two different locations, performing different duties at each site.

By Charles Power on February 27th, 2019

If ‘Nazi Sparky’ can pay, he must pay, says FWC

Industrial Instruments

An electrical contractor who was ordered by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to pay $11,400 to an unfairly dismissed employee has lost his application for a stay order.

By Portner Press on February 18th, 2019

ACCI calls for action to stop employee underpayment

Industrial Instruments

In its 2019-2020 pre-budget submission, the ACCI has called upon the Federal Government to take more action to address the underpayment of employees.

By Portner Press on February 13th, 2019

Refusing a flexible work request? You MUST know this

Industrial Instruments

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) an eligible employee may request a change in working arrangements relating to certain prescribed circumstances.

By Charles Power on February 8th, 2019

New Fair Work regulation introduced in response to Workpac v Skene case

Industrial Instruments

The Federal Government has introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018 in response to the recent Workpac v Skene (2018) decision.

By Hannah Pelka-Caven on February 6th, 2019