Future Directions is a change program launched by the Commission to improve the performance and quality of the services it provides. It delivers initiatives under four key themes, including productivity and engaging with industry.

Phase one completed

Searching enterprise agreements

The Commission launched a search tool in December 2012 to enable clients to search the content of collective agreements approved by the Tribunal through our website.

Working cooperatively with other organisations

The Commission worked cooperatively with other organisations to minimise the potential for duplication of effort in implementing the Commission’s engagement strategy.

Engagement strategy

The Commission developed a broad engagement strategy, in consultation with the major peak employer and union bodies. The Commission’s engagement strategy comprises a number of elements, including:

  • Invited Paper Series
  • Australian Workplace Relations Study
  • Workplace Relations Lecture Series, and
  • Fair Work Commission Public Value research.

Invited Paper Series

Invited papers are written by external workplace relations academics, researchers and practitioners and cover a range of relevant workplace relations issues.

Australian Workplace Relations Study

Part of the Commission’s engagement strategy includes the Australian Workplace Relations Study (AWRS). It has been included as an initiative as part of phase two of Future Directions.

Workplace Relations Lecture Series

In 2013 the Fair Work Commission co-sponsored with the University of Melbourne a series of lectures by prominent researchers to facilitate the discussion about workplace relations issues. Attendance ranged from 140 to 160 people per lecture. Speakers included Associate Professors John Howe and Anthony Forsyth and Mr Dean Parham.

Fair Work Commission public value research

As part of the engagement strategy the Commission commenced an investigation of options for research to improve its public value. This work is continuing as part of phase two of Future Directions.

Phase two commenced

Mock hearings

Following the success of its mock hearings in Melbourne, the Commission committed to expanding its mock hearings program in 2014. The Commission held mock hearings in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra during the first half of 2014, and in Perth on 12 August 2014. These were modelled on the 2013 mock hearings in Melbourne, with a new unfair dismissal scenario developed to provide an opportunity for ongoing learning for 2013 participants.

Communications strategy

The Commission will consult with a broad range of clients in developing a communications strategy which improves the public’s understanding of our services and role. This will enable us to establish programs to better meet community needs and expectations.

Establishment of new user groups

The Commission will further facilitate the exchange of views with our key stakeholders by establishing new user groups, including a pilot program with community legal centres. During the reporting period we commenced working with the Footscray Legal Centre to explore ways the Commission can provide assistance to the Centre with its Employment Law pilot program. To this end the Commission gave the Centre’s volunteer lawyers the opportunity to participate in the recent pro bono training sessions which gave them access to free advocacy training and information about the unfair dismissal jurisdiction. Work on the initiative will progress through the 2014–15 period.

Better services to small business

The Commission will work to better promote the materials and resources we have for the small business sector. We will also review our materials and engagement with small business to ensure that we meet the needs and expectations of this important sector in the Australian economy.

Australian Workplace Relations Study

In 2014 the Commission will continue the Australian Workplace Relations Study (AWRS) which will capture the views of both employers and employees, resulting in the production of the first Australia-wide statistical dataset linking employer data and employee data. Data collection through the AWRS has been one of the main activities of the Commission’s Pay Equity Unit.

Promoting cooperative and productive workplace relations

In consultation with key stakeholders, in 2014 and 2015 the Commission will develop and implement a strategy for the promotion of cooperative and productive workplace relations that facilitate change and foster innovation.

Research community

In 2014 the Commission will continue to engage with the research community by co-sponsoring a series of papers and lectures delivered in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart.

Qualitative research

In support of the recommendation contained in Towards more productive and equitable workplaces, an evaluation of the Fair Work legislation, the Commission will conduct and publish qualitative research to identify clauses in enterprise agreements that enhance productivity or innovation. The purpose of the project is to help enterprises to become more productive by informing them about productivity-enhancing measures that other enterprises have introduced through their enterprise agreements.

Research

By mid 2015 the Commission will conduct research to map the location and business needs of parties to determine how the Commission can provide services that more effectively and efficiently meet their needs.