In 2013, the Fair Work Act was amended to provide the Commission with a new function: 'Promoting cooperative and productive workplace relations and preventing disputes' (s.576(2)(aa)). The New Approaches strategy was developed by Members of the Commission in consultation with peak employer and employee organisations.
New Approaches involves Commission Members assisting employers, employees and their representatives achieve cooperative and productive workplaces.
Case management & implementation
Throughout 2015–16 the Commission developed administrative and case management processes to manage the pilot phase of the program, including the introduction of an application form (F79), processes for lodgment and allocation of files, and publication of content about New Approaches on the Commission's website. The pilot program concluded with the approval of the application form in April 2016. New Approaches is now established as an ongoing part of the Commission's functions.
Training & workshops
The Commission has developed educational materials and conducted professional development training for Commission Members in conjunction with a leading international academic. These Members have subsequently conducted a large number of workshops in most states and territories with employers, employees and their representatives. These workshops are interactive and have a practical focus with an emphasis on providing participants with tools to improve their effectiveness in enterprise bargaining and to resolve conflict and disputes at the workplace level. Further workshops are planned in 2016–17 across Australia.
As part of the New Approaches program, a number of new services have been developed and are now available to parties, including:
- training in interest-based bargaining
- facilitation of interest-based bargaining
- facilitation of joint processes to implement enterprise agreements
- training in interest-based dispute resolution in the bargaining context
- training and facilitation in collaborative workplace change, including training for consultative committees
New Approaches cases & materials
As at 30 June 2016 there were 17 active files in the New Approaches program and the Commission continues to provide a range of training, facilitation, advice and support to parties in those matters.
Video case studies involving a number of New Approaches matters have been produced and are available on the Commission's website.
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