The Commission comprises the President, General Manager, Members and administrative staff across four branches.
Chart 1—Organisational structure
Justice Iain Ross AO is the President of the Commission. Justice Ross is also a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. Members of the Commission perform the quasi-judicial functions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Fair Work Act), including conducting public hearings and private conferences. Their work includes both individual and collective matters. They also perform certain functions under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Registered Organisations Act), including determining applications for registration and cancellation of registration of employee and employer organisations.
Members may serve the Commission on a full-time basis, as dual appointees of the Commission and other tribunals, or as Expert Panel Members.
Commission Members come from a diverse range of backgrounds including the law, unions and employer associations, human resources and management and the public service. Expert Panel Members must have knowledge or experience in one or more fields specific to their panel. Members often share their expertise and engage with the community by participating in a range of presentations, speeches and events in Australia and internationally. For a full list of Member activities see Appendix A.
During the reporting period Deputy President Kovacic was appointed to the Commission. Deputy President Parsons, a dual appointee, resigned, Commissioner Macdonald retired and Expert Panel Member Allen resigned from the Commission. Shortly after the close of the reporting period Commissioner Deegan resigned her appointment. A full list of Members is contained in Appendix B.
The panel system
The work of the Commission is administered by a panel system overseen by the President. This system seeks to ensure that matters are dealt with efficiently and expertly. There are five industry panels and specialist panels dealing with Anti-Bullying, Termination of Employment, Organisations, and Major Resources/Infrastructure projects. There are also two Expert Panels which have particular functions in relation to annual wage reviews and assessing superannuation default funds. Except for the Expert Panels, the Panel Head is responsible for allocating the work of the panel to other Members in the panel. The Expert Panels, in addition to Commission Members, also include part-time Members from industry. A full list of panel assignments is contained in Appendix C.
Headed by the General Manager, Bernadette O’Neill, Commission staff are public servants who administratively support and facilitate the work of the Commission.
The staff are organised into four branches:
- Client Services—staff in this branch deal with public inquiries by telephone and at Commission offices in each state and territory. They receive and process applications, prepare files, coordinate hearing and conference rooms and lists, maintain the case management system, arrange and conduct conciliations and mediations and publish documents including decisions and orders
- Corporate Services—staff in this branch are responsible for human resources, information technology, media and communications, legal support, corporate governance and reporting, financial management and resources and payroll
- Regulatory Compliance—staff in this branch assist in administering the functions of the Registered Organisations Act, process right of entry permits, oversee compliance of unions and employer organisations with legislative obligations and conduct inquiries and investigations into non-compliant organisations and individuals, and
- Tribunal Services—staff in this branch provide specialist research, project management and administrative support to Members of the Commission. They coordinate the day-to-day support in the Members’ chambers, undertake high-level research activities and assist the Commission with the management of large statutory reviews, such as those associated with modern awards, default superannuation funds and the minimum wage. In addition, they oversee national and international engagement activities, coordinate arbitration hearings for unfair dismissal matters, provide research for individual Members, undertake the work of the Pay Equity Unit and maintain a workplace relations library.