In 2011, Fair Work Australia (now the Fair Work Commission) invited interested academics and academic institutions to submit proposals to undertake a partnership research project (FWA-10/11-08). The reports from selected research projects have been published.
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The projects were to advance the understanding of issues that will inform one or more areas of the reporting requirements outlined in section 653 of the Fair Work Act 2009. The projects will form part of the research to inform the 2015 reports.
The Commission, in consultation with stakeholders, selected the following proposals.
Fair Work Australia's influence in the enterprise bargaining process
Research team: Associate Professor Anthony Forsyth (RMIT University), Professor Peter Gahan and Associate Professor John Howe (University of Melbourne).
The study examines the influence of the Commission through its supervisory role in the enterprise bargaining process, and the consequences of the Commission's involvement for the way that employers, employees and unions manage industrial relations at the workplace level.
The study focuses on The Commission's handling and determination of bargaining-related cases under Part 2-4 of the Fair Work Act. It provides the Commission with empirical data relevant to the reporting requirement in section 653(1)(a), to 'review the developments, in Australia, in making enterprise agreements' over the period 1 July 2009–30 June 2012.
The research findings will also enable the Commission to determine the effectiveness of its interventions in collective bargaining under Part 2-4 of the Fair Work Act.
Fair Work Australia's influence in the enterprise bargaining process (pdf) forms part of the research to inform the 2015 report into the developments in enterprise agreement-making in Australia.
Work, life and flexibility: A qualitative study of requests for flexibility
Centre for Work + Life, University of South Australia
This project analyses flexibility request making and its outcomes by means of a qualitative study amongst employers and employees. The study was conducted by the Centre for Work + Life in partnership with the Commission to inform the General Manager’s reporting requirements.
The project investigates how higher labour force participation, better skill development and utilisation, and improved reconciliation of work and other activities, including care, are facilitated by improved 'cross-workforce' flexibility (such as the new national legal rights to request flexibility and the new national parental leave entitlements) and 'within-workplace' flexibility. The project addresses the following questions:
- how new 'right to request' provisions in the Fair Work Act – whether for flexibility at work or extended parental leave – have affected flexibility request making
- how such flexibility affects rates of labour force participation, employees' reconciliation of work and care and wellbeing, and employer perceptions of effects on retention, productivity and worker wellbeing
- the circumstances in which employees make such requests, and the outcome of such requests
- the circumstances in which such requests are refused and the consequences of refusal
- differences between different employees (by state, age, gender, occupation, culturally and linguistically diverse background (CALD) and by household and care type), and between employers (by size, industry)
- which types of flexibility matter most to different workers and what processes of implementing flexibility work best, to guide cultural and management practice in workplaces.
The qualitative study involves interviews of a sample of employers and employees about their experiences requesting flexibility, or responding to such requests.
It provides analysis of the circumstances and outcomes of request making and request refusal, pursuing employer and employee perspectives and experience in line with the General Manager's reporting obligations.
A qualitative study of the circumstances and outcomes of the National Employment Standards Right to Request provisions (pdf) forms part of the research to inform the 2015 report into the operation of provisions of the NES in Australia.