Who we are and what we do

The Commission is Australia's national workplace relations tribunal.

The Commission is responsible for administering the provisions of the Fair Work Act and the Registered Organisations Act.

The Fair Work Act empowers the Commission to:

  • resolve unfair dismissal claims
  • make orders to stop or prevent bullying at work
  • deal with general protections and unlawful termination claims
  • annually review and determine the national minimum wage and minimum wages in modern awards
  • make, review and vary modern awards
  • make orders to ensure equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value
  • make orders to facilitate enterprise bargaining (including orders for ballots on unprotected industrial action and good faith bargaining) and to deal with bargaining disputes
  • approve, vary and terminate enterprise agreements
  • make workplace determinations in certain circumstances in which enterprise bargaining parties have been unable to reach agreement
  • make orders to stop or suspend industrial action
  • deal with disputes brought to the Commission under the dispute resolution procedures of modern awards and enterprise agreements
  • make orders in relation to transfer of business
  • deal with disputes about stand downs
  • issue, suspend and revoke right of entry permits and deal with disputes concerning right of entry
  • promote cooperative and productive workplace relations and prevent disputes
  • provide assistance and advice about its functions and activities.

The Registered Organisations Act also confers functions upon the Commission and the General Manager in relation to federally registered organisations of employers and employees.

As at 30 June 2015, there were 110 organisations registered under the Registered Organisations Act comprising 63 employer organisations, 46 employee organisations and one enterprise association.

Many of the registered organisations are divided into branches which are considered to be individual reporting units for the purposes of Part 3 of Chapter 8 of the Registered Organisations Act. In the 2014–15 financial year, there were 400 reporting units required to report on their financial records and accounts.

The Registered Organisations Act empowers the Commission to:

  • determine applications for registration and cancellation of registration of employee and employer organisations
  • approve the amalgamation of organisations
  • approve membership agreements and assets and liabilities agreements between employee organisations and state registered unions
  • determine applications for alterations of the eligibility rules of organisations.

The Registered Organisations Act also empowers the General Manager to:

  • assess the financial reports of organisations
  • assess the Annual Returns of organisations
  • approve elections for organisations
  • certify alterations to rules (other than eligibility rules)
  • provide advice and assistance to organisations
  • conduct inquiries and investigations into possible breaches of financial obligations and civil penalty provisions by organisations, their officials and/or employees
  • apply for orders in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to contraventions of the Registered Organisations Act.

The Commission's staff also provide assistance and support to the RSRT, which is an independent tribunal established under the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012 (RSR Act).

The Commission is required by legislation to perform its functions and exercise its powers in a manner that:

  • is fair and just
  • is quick, informal and avoids unnecessary technicalities
  • is open and transparent
  • promotes harmonious and cooperative workplace relations.

The Commission is also committed to its Future Directions ongoing change program to improve performance and the quality of services provided. This program includes initiatives grouped under four key themes:

  • promoting fairness and improving access
  • efficiency and innovation
  • increasing accountability
  • productivity and engaging with industry.

The initiatives are directed at ensuring that the Commission fulfils its role as an accessible, fair, efficient and accountable national institution that responds appropriately to change and continually improves the services delivered to the community.

Image of the front cover of the Commission's Future Directions 2014-15 Progress Report - Continuing the Change Program.
Download Continuing the Change Program: Future Directions 2014–15 progress report (PDF)

The Commission updated stakeholders on its progress implementing the second phase of Future Directions initiatives in May 2015.