Glossary

Updated time

Last updated

02 March 2016

Act

A law made by Parliament. Laws are binding and must be complied with.

Adult

Person over the age of 21.

Annual leave

A period of working time which is paid for by the employer, but during which the employee is not required to be at work and can go on holiday.

Apprentice

A young person who enters into a formal contract of training to learn a trade skill while also working in the trade. The training leads to a formal trades qualification.

Apprenticeship

The combination of work and training that leads to a tradesperson's qualification.

Arbitration

The binding determination of an issue, in this context an employment issue. This can be the level of wage rates, or other conditions of employment such as the length of sick leave, whether or not the termination of employment is unfair or not, or another issue.

Arbitration Court

The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.

Award

An order of the Arbitration Court setting the minimum wages and conditions that must be paid by employers to their employees employed in a certain industry, occupation or enterprise.

Award entitlements

The legal right that an employee has to certain wages and conditions under an award made by the Arbitration Court.

Basic wage

A part of the Australian minimum wage system. The minimum wage in Australia was made up of two parts, a basic wage and a margin. The basic wage was initially 7 shillings a day for an unskilled labourer. More skilled employees received amounts in addition to this known as a 'margin'.

Bill

A proposed law introduced into Parliament.

Case

An application made to the Arbitration Court for an order or award or other remedy.

Casting vote

The vote on a proposal made in a Parliament or other body of people which determines whether or not that proposal succeeds (e.g. the Australian Parliament voted in 1904 to pass the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904).

Colony

A settlement in a new country, e.g. Britain established the colony of New South Wales in 1788.

Commission

The Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, or the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. They operated in a similar manner to a court, but were not actually courts under Australia's Constitution.

Common law

Judge-made law. When judges make decisions, those decisions can constitute new law which is then applied in later cases.

'Common rule' award

An award which applies not to named employers and trade unions, but to an area of industry or occupation or a geographical area (e.g. Clerks in Victoria).

Conciliation

Conciliation is a process where an independent third party assists two sides in a dispute to reach an agreed resolution.

Conditions

These are matters such as the hours of work in each day or each week that an employee must work, arrangements for taking leave of absence from work, and other matters which are not monetary.

Constitution

The basic law of a country. The Australian Constitution sets out the basic structure of government, law and democracy in Australia.

Cost of living

How much it costs to buy food, clothing, housing and other matters for citizens of a country.

Court

A place where matters are decided. Judges of courts decide and enforce the law of a country. This may be criminal law (e.g. assault and theft) or civil law (e.g. parking offences).

Decision

A binding judgment or order handed down by a court or tribunal deciding a matter, such as an application to make a new award.

Determination

A determination is another term for a binding decision.

Equal pay

Different groups, such as men and women, or Aboriginal stockmen, receive equal pay when the pay they receive is the same or set on the same basis. Until 1972 women received less pay under awards than men.

Equal value

A term used in deciding equal pay. An unskilled labourer may receive less pay than a skilled tradesperson, because the work of a skilled tradesperson is worth more in the labour market.

Ex parte

A legal term used to describe a case with one party.

Fair Work Australia

Australia's independent, national workplace relations tribunal, established under the Fair Work Act 2009, from July 2009 to December 2012. Fair Work Australia assumed the functions of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, and the Australian Fair Pay Commission and the agreement-making function of the Workplace Authority. Fair Work Australia was renamed the Fair Work Commission on 1 January 2013.

Fair Work Commission

Australia's independent, national workplace relations tribunal, established under the Fair Work Act 2009. Fair Work Australia (now the Fair Work Commission) assumed the functions of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, and the Australian Fair Pay Commission and the agreement-making function of the Workplace Authority. Fair Work Australia was renamed the Fair Work Commission on 1 January 2013 by the Fair Work Amendment Act 2012.

Family wage

A term used to describe the early minimum wage. The name is used to describe the fact that the minimum wage was set having regard to the expenses of supporting a family of five.

Federal Labor Party

One of the three early political groupings in the Australian Parliament after it was established in 1901. The Labor Party was established by trade unions to represent working class people.

Federation

In 1901 the six British colonies of Australia became one nation by 'federating' or joining together. This is known as 'Federation'.

Free Traders

They were one of the three important political groupings in the Australian Parliament after it was established in 1901. They believed in free trade, that is, trade without Australian industry being protected by 'tariffs', which are taxes paid on goods made overseas and imported into Australia. Tariffs make foreign made goods more expensive.

Great Depression

In 1929 the Great Depression began. Prices fell, and many people lost their jobs and were unemployed.

Great Strikes

The Great Strikes of the 1890s were key events that led to the establishment of the Arbitration Court. In particular, the 1890 maritime strike, the 1891 and 1894 shearers' strikes, and the 1892 Broken Hill strike.

Gurindji

A tribe of Aboriginal people who live in the Northern Territory.

Harvester

A machine that harvests wheat and similar crops. Harvester machines were made at the HV McKay factory at Sunshine outside Melbourne.

High Court

The highest Court in Australia.

Hours of work

The hours an employee works with an employer, whether per day, per week, or some longer period. In 1907 hours of work per week were usually 48 or 48¾. Now they are 38 per week.

Indexation

A system used to increase award wages in line with increases in the cost of goods. The increases in the cost of goods and services, known as 'inflation', were measured by statistics developed by the Australian Government.

Industrial registrar

The person in charge of receiving applications to the Arbitration Court and providing administrative support, maintaining the Court premises and similar functions.

Inflation, Consumer Price Index, 'A' Series

This was the measure of inflation developed by the Australian Government in 1912.

Inter-state dispute

A dispute which occurred in more than one state, for example a dispute which occurred in both New South Wales and Victoria.

Judge

The person appointed to a court who hears applications and makes decisions.

Junior

A young person, under 21. Juniors receive lower wages than adults in many awards.

Leave

Employees were given the right to be paid while absent from work for certain limited periods, for example if they were sick or wished to have a holiday.

Legislation

Laws passed by the Australian or a state Parliament.

Liberal Protectionists

One of the three important political groups in the Australian Parliament after the first election in 1901. They strongly supported the introduction of 'tariffs', protection for Australian industry, and were opposed by the Free Traders.

Living wage

A term used to describe the early minimum wage. The name is used to describe the fact that the minimum wage was set having regard to living expenses (e.g. food, clothing, housing, other).

Lock-out

The equivalent of a strike by employers. Employers locked out employees when they were in dispute over their wages or conditions. This meant that they simply closed the doors of the factory or other premises, refused to allow employees to work, and refused to pay them.

Margin

The amount paid to more skilled employees in awards.

Maternity leave

Leave given to women who are about to have or have had a child, to enable them to care for the child.

Minimum wage

By law, the minimum amount of wages payable by an employer to an employee. The first minimum wage for an unskilled labourer set by the Arbitration Court was 7 shillings a day.

Nationalists

An important liberal/conservative and non-labour political party. Billy Hughes led a Nationalist Government during World War I.

Papal encyclical

A document issued by the Pope (the head of the Catholic Church) for wide distribution.

Parental leave

Leave for a parent to care for a child just before and after its birth. Maternity leave is a type of parental leave, and is taken by the mother.

Paternity leave

Leave for a parent to care for a child just before and after its birth. Paternity leave is taken by the father.

Penalty rates

Awards require an employer to pay extra money to an employee who works certain hours of work, such as on weekends or on public holidays such as Easter and Christmas.

Personal/carer's leave

Paid leave that an employee may take when ill, or to care for certain family members (e.g. a sick child).

President

The head of the Arbitration Court.

Recession

An economic downturn, when industry may find it difficult to sell its goods and services, or to make a profit, and workers may find it hard to find work or keep a job.

Registrar

The person in charge of the registry (see Industrial registrar).

Royal commission

The Australian Government establishes royal commissions to inquire into certain important matters and to draft a report.

Safety net

A term used to describe legal protections for employees or citizens such as awards. Other parts of the safety net may include unemployment benefits and similar government payments to citizens.

Sick leave

Paid leave taken by an employee while he or she is ill and unable to work.

Skilled

An employee with an extra ability, often gained through a special process of learning and training. For example tradespersons such as fitters and joiners have special skills which are recognised by law.

Social security

The system of government support for people who have a special need for support, such as unemployed people.

State

The Australian Constitution recognises the existence of the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. These States each have a government and an elected Parliament, which makes laws.

State tribunal

A tribunal such as a commission made by a state law.

Stockman

An employee who has the job of rounding up and looking after cattle, sheep or similar livestock.

Strike

A strike is the refusal by a group of employees to work, in order to pursue a claim for increased wages or conditions. Strikes are usually but not always led or organised by a trade union.

Sweating

A term used to describe various types of exploitation of employees by employers. These include very long hours and refusal to pay the wages that were required by law.

Tariff

A tax placed on goods made overseas and brought into Australia. This makes such goods more expensive compared with goods made in Australia.

Test case

A case which decides an important point of law or what should be in an award. Test cases established minimum wage levels, and entitlements such as maternity leave.

Tradesman

Another term for a 'tradesperson', a person who has gained a qualification as a skilled person recognised by law.

Traditional lands

A term used to describe the lands which were occupied, owned or lived on by tribes of Aboriginal people.

Union

A trade union. A group of employees who join together in order to protect their wages and conditions, or to gain better wages and conditions from employers. Employees pay amounts to join, and receive formal membership cards.

Unskilled

A term used to describe employees who do not have trade qualifications.

v.

A term used in decisions as a shorthand for 'versus' (e.g. Brown v. Dunne).

Veto

The power to say no and to stop some course of action occurring.

Wages

The money an employee receives from an employer for working at a job.

Work Choices

The Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005. This Act was introduced by the then Liberal/National Coalition Government under Prime Minister John Howard, and made substantial changes to industrial laws.