Employment Law In South Australia
Updated on Oct 11, 2022 • 4 min read • 342 views • Copy Link
Employment Law In South Australia
If you are employed in South Australia, you are covered by either the national workplace relations system or the South Australian workplace relations system. If you work for the police, for the state or local government, as a public servant, for a local council, or for a state government minister or judicial officer in South Australia, then you are covered by the South Australian system. All other employees are covered by the national system. This article deals with employment law in South Australia.
State and federal legislation
The main legislation applying to employees who are covered by the South Australian industrial relations system is the South Australian Fair Work Act 1994, Local Government Act 1999 and the Public Sector Act 2009. If you are any other kind of employee, you are a national system employee and covered by the Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009.
The national workplace relations system
The Fair Work Act 2009 is managed by two bodies, the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Fair Work Act 2009 contains a set of ten minimum National Employment Standards for national system employees. These include minimum annual leave requirements, maximum weekly working hours, redundancy pay and personal leave.
National system employees are also entitled to other protections relating to workplace rights such as protection from adverse action based on having taken part in protected industrial action and protection from discrimination based on certain attributes, including age, race, and sex or sexual preference.
Other provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) relate to matters such as the making of modern awards (see below), setting minimum wage rates, and unfair dismissal.
National system employees may also be covered by the terms of a modern award. Modern awards are made by the Fair Work Commission and set out the minimum terms and conditions for employees in particular industries. These terms and conditions are generally framed around the ten minimum National Employment Standards. For example, a modern award can include information relating to taking or cashing out annual leave.
The Fair Work Commission can only make modern awards that are fair and reasonable, taking into account factors such as relative living standards. However, a person will not be covered by the terms of a modern award if their annual income is greater than a “high income threshold”, which is currently $158,500 per annum.
State laws that apply to federal employees
Some South Australian laws also apply to national system employees. These are known as preserved laws and are listed in the Fair Work Act 2009. Preserved laws include workers compensation and workplace health and safety laws, and the Equal Opportunity Act 1984. All employees in South Australia also receive their long service leave entitlements under SA law; specifically, the Long Service Leave Act 1987 and in certain circumstances the Construction Industry Long Service Leave Act 1987.
The state workplace relations system
The Fair Work Act 1994 (SA) is the main piece of legislation that governs South Australia’s industrial relations system. It establishes the Industrial Relations Court, the Industrial Relations Advisory Committee and the Industrial Relations Commission. The Industrial Relations Court is given jurisdiction to hear claims for money owed to an employee by an employer (including wages and superannuation), to hear and decide on matters of law and jurisdiction referred to it by the Commission, and to interpret enterprise agreements and awards.
The Industrial Relations Commission has jurisdiction in relation to unfair dismissal applications, to approve of the enterprise agreements, which apply between the employer and employees of a particular enterprise, to make awards in relation to particular industries, and to set out minimum pay and conditions of employment.
If both an award and an enterprise agreement applies to an employee, the enterprise agreement generally prevails unless the provisions of the enterprise agreement are less favourable than the award. Certain aspects of the national Fair Work Act 2009 also apply to state employees – for example, the unlawful termination and parental leave provisions.
Employment law in South Australia and the public sector
Enterprise agreements have been made which apply to public sector employees. One of the largest is the South Australian Wages Parity Agreement. There are also enterprise agreements for specific areas of the public sector, such as teachers and ambulance officers. The Public Sector Act 2009 also regulates public sector employees by providing for matters such as leave rights and the public sector Code of Ethics.
Employment law in South Australia and local government
Local government employees are covered by the Local Government Employees Award. The Local Government Act 1999 also provides for the creation of a code of conduct to apply to all local government employees.
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