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


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

Your questions answered: Are employees allowed to work more than 38 hours per week?

Industrial Instruments

Recently, we had a team working 36 hours straight to meet a deadline. They were willing... but I am concerned we should never have allowed this to occur.

By Portner Press on February 6th, 2019

Deceptive cashback scheme is outright wage theft, Court says

Industrial Instruments

Melbourne 7-Eleven operator, Jing Qi Xia, had implemented a cash-back scam so she could skim $6,670 of her employees’ wages for work they did.

By Portner Press on February 1st, 2019

$10K penalty for dismissing an employee ON PROBATION

Industrial Instruments

  The unfair dismissal scheme provided in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) will not apply to an employee who has not served the qualifying period. That period is six months or 12 months if the employer is […]

By Charles Power on January 25th, 2019

Can there be unity in a ‘hellscape’? Australian unions unite against Amazon

Industrial Instruments

Two major Australian unions, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and the Transport Workers’ Union have joined forces to create the Online Retail & Delivery Workers Alliance.

By Portner Press on January 7th, 2019

Can insecure workers have their cake and eat it too?

Industrial Instruments

The Federal Government is seeking to introduce a regulation in response to the recent Workpac decision, ruling that an employee who was treated as a casual was in fact entitled to paid annual leave under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

By Charles Power on December 19th, 2018

Australia’s silent underclass of underpaid workers

Industrial Instruments

The Wage Theft in Silence report is based on a survey of 4322 temporary migrant workers from 107 countries working across Australia.

By Portner Press on December 12th, 2018