Harman Patil (Editor)

Workplace Authority

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The Workplace Authority is an Australian Federal Government statutory agency that commenced operations on 1 July 2007, replacing, and expanding on the role of, the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA), which had been in place since 1997. The Workplace Authority has been superseded by the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Australia (since renamed the Fair Work Commission) as of 1 July 2009.

Overview

The primary role of the OEA was to accept the lodgement of Australian workplace agreements. In March 2006 the OEA's role was expanded to include the lodgement of collective agreements.

The Workplace Relations Amendment (A Stronger Safety Net) Act 2007 received royal assent on 28 June 2007, establishing the Workplace Authority and introducing the Fairness Test. The Workplace Authority Director, Barbara Bennett is responsible for assessing whether agreements lodged on or after 7 May 2007 pass the Fairness Test, however she also agreed to be the front of the Howard Government's WorkChoices advertising campaign in 2007 and received heavy criticism for her role. The Workplace Authority has also received strong criticism in relation to the enormous backlog of unassessed Workplace Agreements since Barbara Bennett's appointment. The Rudd Government through the office of Julia Gillard has stated that Barbara Bennett will not be replaced until the end of 2009 (when the new Industrial Relations system will commence).

The Fairness Test is applied to Australian workplace agreements and collective agreements to ensure they provide fair compensation for the removal or modification of protected award conditions, such as penalty rates and overtime loadings.

The Workplace Authority can, upon request, carry out a pre-lodgement review of an agreement to assess whether it would pass the Fairness Test. Additionally, the Authority provides free support and advice to employers, particularly those in the small business sector, and employees in the areas of agreement making and lodgement of agreements, as well as advising on prohibited content and whether agreements meet the minimum requirements as set in the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard.

The Workplace Authority was previously known as the Office of the Employment Advocate.

The Workplace Authority is located in the Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. It also operates the Workplace Infoline for workplace relations queries between 8am and 7pm on weekdays across all states. The Workplace Authority's contact centre in Brisbane won an Australian Teleservice Association (ATA) award in 2008 for the best contact centre in Queensland (less than 50 fte).

References

Workplace Authority Wikipedia


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