Employment Standards and Their Enforcement In Australia: Successes and Challenges In a Time Of Transition "CANCELLED"

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: Booth 41
Sara CHARLESWORTH , University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
John HOWE , Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia
Over the last six years, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and its predecessors have revolutionized regulatory enforcement of employment standards in Australia. Historically, minimum standards were enforced by trade unions and relatively under-resourced labour inspectorates at the State and federal levels. Through its active, targeted detection and enforcement strategies, the FWO has been a highly visible presence in the labour market, and trade unions continue to play an enforcement role in certain industries and sectors. Nevertheless, there are areas of the labour market where both employment standards and their enforcement are inadequate, with aged care a case in point. While there has been some limited activity by the FWO in in this sector, in community-based aged care, in particular, inadequate government funding works to limit the improvement of minimum employment standards and provides some pressure on employers to ‘read down’ existing entitlements. At the same time workers may be reluctant to insist on their rights – often because they are working with more vulnerable people than themselves. This paper will explore these challenges to effective employment standards enforcement with reference to the example of home care workers in the aged care industry.