Labour standards and practice

How employment is regulated is an important issue, both for individual workers who rely on paid work to make a living and for the social and economic wellbeing of the society in which they live. Labour standards regulate the behaviour of workers, their representatives (i.e. trade unions), employers and their representatives (i.e. employer associations). Australia has employment rules and institutions that are complex and truly distinctive. Notably, the processes used to resolve workplace disputes and the network of industrial awards that continue to set minimum standards for a large number of Australian workers. The WRC has had a long standing interest in conducting research into the changing form of labour standards in Australia and the impact these have at workplace level. The WRC has a unique capacity to analyse workplace agreements and other industrial instruments and we continue to draw on our own historical agreements database.

Our approach is to look beyond the text of agreements in order to understand how labour standards are influenced by the economic, social and political context at the national, industry, firm and individual level.


The changing situation of electrical apprentices 2013

Client:  Electrical Trades Union

The WRC, in conjunction with Professor Michael Bittman at the University of New England, researched apprentice wages for the Electrical Trades Union. The research found that award wage rates do not adequately reflect skill levels or the financial requirements of contemporary electrical apprentices. Despite an older and more mature profile of electrical apprentices, apprentice award rates are slightly above welfare payments (the Newstart allowance) and mostly below the Henderson Poverty Line. Apprentices in the research experienced living difficulties due their low rates of pay. To overcome these problems further examination of apprentices award wages is required.

Wage movements relevant to the Queensland public sector 2013

Client:  Queensland Council of Unions, various Queensland public sector unions

This report conducted data analysis that principally considered the wage movements of Queensland's public sector workers relative to their peers both in the Queensland private sector, and in the Australian public sector. The analysis drew on three distinctive data sources: average earnings data for full time, ordinary hours adult employees; wage price index data which measures price movements across the same jobs; and recent enterprise agreement wage outcomes. The first two data sources were provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while the latter was drawn from a database held by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).

Minimum wages and their role in the process and incentives to bargain 2013

Client:  Fair Work Commission (formerly Fair Work Australia)

As part of its Annual Wage Review, the Minimum Wage Panel of the Fair Work Commission funds research to understand the wider impacts of its decisions. This project addresses two research questions:

  1. how do minimum wage increases impact on over award and agreement rates of pay?, and
  2. how do minimum wage increases impact on the incentive to bargain?

The study included enterprise case studies, content analysis of enterprise agreements, a quantitative analysis of enterprise agreements, and the generation and statistical analysis of workplace survey data. This multi-method approach was used to investigate the motivations, processes and outcomes of wage setting at the workplace level, and examined the role that the minimum wages increases play in shaping agreement-making and over award wage determination.

Award Reliance 2013

Client:  Fair Work Commission (formerly Fair Work Australia)

The WRC in collaboration with ORC International examined national system organisations in which at least one employee has their pay set at the specified award rate. The key objective of the study was to understand the mix or 'categories' of such employees and, where possible, their location on award classification scales. A particular focus of the research was to identify professionals and other employees on higher award classifications whose pay is set at the specified award rate. The study consisted of a quantitative survey of such organisations. Data were gathered on the size and structure of these organisations, the nature of employment arrangements within these organisations as well as information on bargaining activity within them.

Australia at Work (Overview) 2012

Client:  ARC - Australian Research Council/ ACTU Australian Council for Trade Unions/ Unions NSW / various other unions [smaller funders, add if possible] CFMEU - Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union / CEPU - Communications, Electrical, Plumbing Union/ Police Federation of Australia/ NSW Nurses Association/ ANF - Australian Nursing Federation, Victoria/ SDA - Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association

Between 2007 and 2012, the Workplace Research Centre conducted the Australia at Work Survey, a longitudinal study tracking the experiences of over 5,000 Australian workers over a turbulent period economically and in terms of industrial relations. It is the richest source of Australian data on employment conditions, hours and patterns of work. The objective of the survey was to examine the key characteristics as well as changes in Australian working life. A total of 8,341 participants completed the survey in Wave 1 and at end of Wave 5 5855 participants remained in the study (an attrition rate of only 30% at the end of Wave 5). The project was funded by an Australian Research Council grant with support from Unions New South Wales and other union bodies as industry partners. Since the project commenced in 2007, the Australia at Work project team has sought to understand the nature of employment in this country, and how it is changing over time. More information about outcomes from the Australia at Work study can be found at the link below.

Victoria University NTEU Study of Academic Workloads 2012

Client:  National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), Victoria University Branch

This report explores the workloads of academic staff at Victoria University (VU). The report's objective is to provide the Workload Model Review Committee with insight into the work performed by academic staff at VU, as part of the Committee's role to review the current workload model. The report is based upon and represents academic staff views on their workloads and how they experience the workload model in managing their work. Twenty focus groups were conducted with academic staff across VU schools.

Police at Work 2012

Client:  Police Federation of Australia

Who bargains? 2012

Client:  NSW Office of Industrial Relations

Nurse Staffing in NSW Public Hospitals 2011

Client:  NSW Nurses Association

The Association commissioned the WRC and the Centre for Health Services Management at the University of Technology to conduct a study of staffing levels in NSW public hospitals in: medical and surgical wards, rehabilitation wards, palliative care wards and emergency departments. The aim of the research was to establish current nurse to patient ratios and identify the skill mix prevailing in these types of ward across the NSW public hospital system. Data were collected by Association officers through face-to-face interviews with Nursing Unit Managers (NUMs) and recording actual staffing levels from the roster on three historical census days in early May 2010. WRC staff then subjected all collected data to quantitative analysis to establish skill mix and nurse-patient ratio calculations and calculations.

Enterprise Case Studies: Effects of Minimum wage-setting at enterprise level 2011

Client:  Fair Work Commission (formerly Fair Work Australia)

The WRC conducted longitudinal case studies of twenty award-reliant enterprises located across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The research involved a mixed methods approach combining analysis of business performance data, key informant interviews and interviews with employers and employees. The purpose of the case studies was threefold: first, to provide a baseline snapshot of practice at the end of 2009; second, to generate insights into expected impacts of the June 2010 minimum wage decision; and third, to give an overview of the actual impact of the decision in November 2010. The final report presents a thematic analysis of key findings across the cases as a whole, and within each of the industry sectors chosen for study.

Administrative and Support Services Industry Profile 2010

Client:  Fair Work Commission (formerly Fair Work Australia)

This research provides a snapshot of economic and labour market characteristics of the 'administrative and support services' and 'other services' industries, identifying differences in major industry sub-divisions. It explores working conditions and characteristics of minimum wage workers as well as the workplace relations experiences of employers. Statistical profiles of employment and other labour market characteristics inform a qualitative examination of workplace practices and characteristics of employment in the sector.

Developing a Standard for Excessive Hours in Theatre, Film and Television 2010

Client:  WorkCover NSW/Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance

Aust at Work Supplementary Studies 2010

Client:  Unions NSW

Staffing Cutbacks in SA Public Sector 2010

Client:  Public Service Association of South Australia

In 2009, the South Australian government announced it would be cutting public sector employees by 1600 over the next three years. The staffing reductions were justified in part by targeting administrative staff, implying that this would prevent or at least minimise impact on actual service delivery to the public.
The proposition advanced by the SA Government - that by concentrating cuts on so called back office administrative staff, the cuts will not affect services  finds no support in this research. Public service delivery tends to be teamed-based, and therefore neat demarcations between service delivery and administrative staff are both difficult and inappropriate. The research concludes that the proposed cutbacks will have a significant impact on the services delivered to the South Australian public.

Wages and fees update for the 2009 NAVA Code of Practice 2009

Client:  NAVA - National Association for the Visual Arts

Artists are rarely covered by formal wage-setting instruments such as awards because they are generally not classified as employees. In the absence of legally-binding minimum pay rates set by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, community standards as to what constitutes fair and reasonable pay have not evolved for artists as in many other sectors. Artists, and employers and buyers of their work, are also often poorly informed about what artists do and should earn. This report develops a schedule of pay rates for four broad categories of work in the arts sector - studio artists, public artists, artists in the 'new economy' and independent curators - through a benchmarking exercise against jobs of comparable worth covered by formal wage setting regulations.

Report on the Australian Business Deans Council of Australia (ABDC) Salary Loadings Survey 2009 2009

Client:  Australian Business Deans Council Incorporated

The WRC was commissioned by the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) to administer a self completion mail out questionnaire to its 40 members between late July and early September, 2009. The main purpose of the questionnaire was to estimate the prevalence of salary loadings among business academics.

Working conditions in small, medium and large workplaces: New South Wales Workplace Industrial Relations Survey (WIRS), 2009 2009

Client:  NSW Office of Industrial Relations

The New South Wales Workplace Industrial Relations Survey, 2009 was conducted between May 13 and June 30 2009 and provides follow-updata to the NSW WIRS 2006 benchmark study. The 2009 survey consisted of a 20 minute telephone interview with managers in NSW workplaces. The survey collected data on a range of issues, including:

  • the workforce and workplace profile;
  • methods of setting pay and conditions in the workplace;
  • wages and entitlements of the workforce;
  • information on union membership and industrial relations within the workplace;
  • workforce additions and reductions;
  • profits, labour costs and productivity;
  • various policies in place; and
  • various attitudes held by managers.

An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of OHS Representation in the Consultative Process under NSW OHS Legislation 2009

Client:  AMWU - Australian Manufacturing Workers Union/ WorkCover NSW

Undertaken in conjunction with Peggy Trompf, a consultant ergonomist with the Workers  Health Centre, this project examined how OH&S consultative structures operate at the workplace level in the manufacturing industry and the extent to which Work Choices influenced the consultative process. It also explored the factors that contribute to 'best practice' OH&S consultation processes and strategies. A range of methods were used to generate data, including: analysis of statistics; a quantitative survey of workers knowledge and attitudes to aspects of federal and state OHS legislative requirements and their perceptions of the nature and effectiveness of workplace OHS consultation; and case studies of OH&S representative arrangements in two worksites.

REPORT: Not publically Available

Report on the IEU Member Survey 2009 2009

Client:  Independent Education Union of Australia (IEU)

The NSW branch of the Independent Education Union (IEU) survey was designed to gauge knowledge, understanding and sentiments regarding the applicable Enterprise Bargaining Agreement amongst independent school teachers. Conducting and analysing the results of an online survey, the research examines the knowledge of IEU members about the agreement, the experiences of teachers relating to accreditation, attitudes towards the model of accreditation, and perceptions about the next Agreement.

Framework of Flesh: Builders' Labourers Battle for Health & Safety 2009

Client:  CFMEU - Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union

This project was commissioned Humphrey McQueen to write a history of the Builders Labourers Federation. The resulting book, 'We Built This Country', is a broad-brush look at builders' labourers and their unions since the convict era. Builders' labourers built this country socially and culturally as well as with concrete. The experiences of the builders' labourers thus open a window into the making of the Australian working class.

Australia at Work: In a changing world 2009

Client:  ARC - Australian Research Council/ ACTU Australian Council for Trade Unions/ Unions NSW CFMEU - Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union / CEPU - Communications, Electrical, Plumbing Union/ Police Federation of Australia/ NSW Nurses Association/ ANF - Australian Nursing Federation, Victoria/ SDA - Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association

This was the third report from the Australia at Work Survey, and provided current data on how the Global Financial Crisis had impacted upon Australian workers. Results from the survey challenged the prevailing idea that reductions in hours in response to the GFC had been through widespread job sharing, instead finding that reductions in working hours were disproportionately borne by workers shifting jobs. In light of this and the growth in casual employment, the report discusses enforceable rights and the policy questions of when entitlements accrue, whether entitlements should be portable across jobs and, consequently, who should be responsible for managing these entitlements.

Concise Report to inform the United Firefighters Union (Vic) Staffing Claim for MFB and CFA Paid Firefighters 2009

Client:  United Firefighters Union

The WRC was commissioned by the United Firefighters Union (Vic) to undertake research to inform the staffing claim for their upcoming Enterprise Bargaining Agreement campaign. Staffing needs for Victoria, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority (CFA) were separately considered.

Workforce planning and action for the Australian dairy industry 2009

Client:  Dairy Australia

The WRC has been working with Dairy Australia to trial a methodology for regional workforce planning. People capability is a burgeoning issue for the dairy farming industry, as farm size is increasing at the same time that farmers are struggling to retain family members on farm. Using the West Gippsland area in Victoria as a pilot, the project team developed recommendations that the local industry can now use to support funding applications and future business development. The research involved three stages: mapping the local labour market, surveying farmers to determine the characteristics of current and future demand, and mapping possible links between the local dairy industry and employment services institutions and training providers. One aim of the project was to equip the dairy industry to replicate the research in other regions. To support this, the WRC developed a customised data warehouse of labour supply data and a one-page survey of labour demand that has already generated considerable interest from other groups.

Wage Movements covering NSW workers in 2008 2009

Client:  Unions NSW

This paper reports on trends in wage movements contained in different industrial instruments regulating New South Wales employees. It covers developments in New South Wales awards and New South Wales enterprise agreements, and compares these with trends in enterprise agreements in the federal jurisdiction. To do so, this report draws on enterprise agreement data from the Workplace Research Centre's 'ADAM Database' which covers federal and State jurisdictions. This data is complemented by data on federal collective agreements from DEEWR's quarterly release of statistics using the Workplace Agreements Database.

The Evolving Work Environment in New Zealand: Implications for Occupational Health and Safety 2008

Client:  NOHSAC - National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council

The research was conducted in conjunction with leading health and safety experts (Professors Michael Quinlan and Phil Bohle) and involved a detailed review of information on the potential for trends in New Zealand workplaces to generate emergent disease and injury risks, or exacerbate existing risks over the next decade. Interviews, literature searches and secondary data analyses were used to summarize existing information and projections on key trends in the New Zealand workforce and work environment, consider the impact of trends on existing occupational health and safety prevention programmes, and identify surveillance and research requirements for pro-active management of the key risks

Australia at Work: the Benchmark Report 2008

Client:  ARC - Australian Research Council/ ACTU - Australian Council for Trade Unions/ Unions NSW / CFMEU - Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union / CEPU - Communications, Electrical, Plumbing Union/ Police Federation of Australia/ NSW Nurses Association/ ANF - Australian Nursing Federation, Victoria/ SDA - Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association

This was the first report from the landmark Australia at Work Study, a longitudinal survey of the experiences of over 5000 Australian workers. The study reveals that contemporary Australian working life is not a clear case of good or bad developments. Our main conclusions include:

  • The inequality of bargaining power in the labour market is not uniform among employees
  • Individual and collective arrangements often co-exist and are better seen as complementary rather than rival industrial arrangements.
  • While many employees report they are generally satisfied with working life, it is clear that underlying frustrations remain, particularly with regard to issues around workload or work intensity and working hours.

Industry case studies 2008

Client:  NSW Office of Industrial Relations

This study contributed to the NSW OIR submission to the Award modernisation process that was being conducted by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Using data drawn from the WRC's Australia at Work survey the research analysed four award based sectors: metal manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and clerks. The aim of the analysis was to shed light on the industrial relations characteristics of employees affected by the award modernisation process.

Survey for NSW Teachers Federation 2008

Client:  NSW Teachers Federation

The NSW Teachers Federation sought to examine teacher's perceptions of the NSW Department of Education's (DET) multi-campus (or collegiate) college model. This model incorporates two or more stand-alone feeder junior high schools and a single senior high school that are established in a particular location. The key aims of this study were to:

  1. quantify, at a school level, the key issues related to the multi-campus model;
  2. determine the extent of teacher preferences for different proposed school models; and
  3. examine the perceived effect that different models may have on students and student outcomes.

The link between industrial arrangements and skill reform 2008

Client:  NSW OIR - NSW Office of Industrial Relations

This report reviews the factors influencing the completion rate of apprentices and trainees can be improved, focusing on the contribution of employment conditions. It analyses twelve NSW state awards covering large numbers of apprentices and trainees, identifies provisions directly addressing the reasons for non-completion of courses, and makes recommendations including that industry based awards should contain a comprehensive range of provisions relating to the employment of apprentices and trainees, dealing with wages, allowances, reimbursements, hours, and the quality of on the job training.

Basic Wages Data 2008

Client:  Australian Fair Pay Commission - AFPC

This project supplied the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) with data that enabled a comparison of statutory minima prior to the introduction of Work Choices with the same provisions in Work Choices collective agreements. To do this, the AFPC requested data predominantly drawn from work undertaken by the WRC for the Lowering the Standards: From Awards to Work Choices in Retail and Hospitality Agreements report. The wages and conditions in those agreements were compared back to the agreements and awards that preceded them.

The changing integration of the Australian meat and livestock industry in the global meat value chain: developments and prospects for implementing a decent work agenda 2008

Client:  International Labour Organsation (ILO)/ Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training (JILPT)

This paper examines some of the changes occurring in the meat agri-food industry in Australia and particularly the changing nature of work in key parts of the industry value chain. In exploring the potential for economic and social upgrading in the industry, the paper uses 'value chain' analysis, which is a multi-disciplinary approach gaining increasing attention as a way to analyse the changing international integration of production and trade. There are several ways of mapping the value chain in the meat industry, and the report illustrates some of these.

Report for the Western Australian TAFE Teachers Wage Claim, 2008 2008

Client:  Slater and Gordon

This report provides evidence in support of the 2008 Western Australia Public Sector Teacher Wage Case. In developing this report, a range of statistical sources were analysed where relevant data was available. The report begins by examining the broader Australian labour market and places the teaching profession within this context with regard to hours of work, salary and occupational growth. The report then compares the salaries of public and private sector teachers in Western Australian, NSW, and Vic with the national average

Safety in Numbers: Nurse-to-Patient Ratios and the Future of Health Care 2008

Client:  AN - Australian Nurses Federation/Cornell University Press

Legally mandated nurse-to-patient ratios are one of the most controversial topics in health care today. Safety in Numbers is the first book to examine the arguments for and against ratios, utilizing survey data, interviews, and other original research to weigh the cost, benefits, and effectiveness of ratios in California and the state of Victoria in Australia, the two places where RN staffing levels have been mandated the longest. It shows how hospital cost cutting and layoffs in the 1990s created larger workloads and deteriorating conditions for both nurses and their patients - leading nursing organizations to embrace staffing level regulation, and provides an in-depth account of the difficult but ultimately successful campaigns waged by nurses and their allies to win mandated ratios. Safety in Numbers analysis of the nurse-to-patient ratios debate contributes to an understanding of the issue for anyone concerned about the quality of patient care contemporarily.

Industrial agreements and economic renewal: Where next for the Australian Automotive Industry? 2008

Client:  AMWU - Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

This report was prepared to help all parties involved in a review of automotive assistance. The brief was to update research on how registered enterprise agreements in the Australian automotive sector had evolved since 2002. It includes a detailed study of 58 enterprise agreements currently operating in the industry, analysis of recent material on the contrasting Australian models of industry rationalisation, and builds directly on WRC's earlier research and expertise on this topic.

Australia at Work - Working Lives: Statistics and Stories 2008

Client:  ARC - Australian Research Council/ ACTU - Australian Council for Trade Unions/ Unions NSW CFMEU - Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union / CEPU - Communications, Electrical, Plumbing Union/ Police Federation of Australia/ NSW Nurses Association/ ANF - Australian Nursing Federation, Victoria/ SDA - Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association

This was the second report from the landmark Australia at Work Study, tracking over 5000 working Australians. Data collection immediately preceded two important developments: the onset of the global financial crisis and the introduction of the Labor Governments Forward with Fairness amendments. This report identified some significant challenges for industrial relations and social policy. These primarily concern:

  • The role of awards: Awards remain centrally important for most employees.
  • Hours of work: Both the length and intensity of working hours continue to be major problems for large segments of the workforce.
  • The scope and reach of labour standards: As the labour market evolves, so should our system of labour law. Living standards: now more than ever it is important that the broader policy mix supports decent wages and hours of work to improve living standards.

Victorian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey, 2008 data 2008

Client:  Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development

This paper, commissioned by the Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, weighted the data from the Victorian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey 2008 to Australian Bureau of Statistics data in order to tabulate a range of pay-setting arrangements, demographics, and policies and procedures in Victorian workplaces.

Survey of NSW Emergency Physicians and Registrars 2007

Client:  ASMOF - Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation

The primary aim of the survey was to help inform an arbitrated settlement before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to determine the preconditions for the payment of a 'special services' allowance for emergency physicians. The survey was developed to also collect views on working conditions in NSW Emergency Departments and intentions to stay among registrars, staff specialists and directors.

Advice on approach taken by the ADF in the 'Base Pay Inquiry' 2007

Client:  ADF - Australian Defence Force

This project was commissioned by the Australian Defence Force to advise on the soundness of its approach to the 'base pay inquiry', and in particular, identify ways in which its approach, especially to data collection, could be modified improved.

A Private Dispute Resolution System for Transport and logistics? An Options Paper 2007

Client:  TALC - Transport and Logistics Centre

The WRC was commissioned by the Transport and Logistics Centre (TALC) to prepare a paper examining the feasibility of introducing private mediation arrangements into the transport and logistics sector. Mediation can be found in a variety of other legal jurisdictions within Australia and plays a significant role in industrial dispute resolution in some other nations, notably the United States and New Zealand. However, the private mediation market has occupied a peripheral role in Australian labour markets until recently, primarily due to the existence of a comprehensive public system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration. This report explores options for private dispute resolution in the transport and logistics sector in within the broader changing context.

Fatigue Management in the Security Industry 2007

Client:  WorkCover NSW/ CRUSE Partnership Australia

Security guards are particularly susceptible to fatigue due to the demands of their job. Shiftwork and overtime are commonplace in the industry, increasing the potential for fatigue to impact on their daily work activities. Fatigue has been addressed in a number of industries in Australia, notably aviation, mining, road and rail transportation and forestry. Significantly though, there is little researched and written on fatigue in the security industry. This report draws upon a literature review, overview of the NSW security industry, focus groups, case studies and an industry survey, as well as comparison to overseas experiences and other industries, to determine and suggest fatigue management strategies for the security industry in NSW.

'Lowering the standards': From Awards to Work Choices in Retail and Hospitality Collective Agreements 2007

Client:  Queensland Government/New South Wales Government/Victorian Government

This study contributed to the NSW OIR submission to the Award modernisation process that was being conducted by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Using data drawn from the WRC's Australia at Work survey the research analysed four award based sectors: metal manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and clerks. The aim of the analysis was to shed light on the industrial relations characteristics of employees affected by the award modernisation process.

Victoria Award Standards for Unincorporated Employees: Community or common standards across 27 key awards 2007

Client:  IR Victoria, Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry & Regional Development

This study reports on the common, minimum and maximum standards for a variety of employment provisions across 27 awards covering employees in Victoria. The report assisted IRV to understand some of the implications of legislating to protect workers beyond the federal jurisdiction and provide a more substantive 'safety net' for such workers.

Workplace Industrial Relations on the Eve of Work Choices: A report on a survey of employers in Queensland, NSW and Victoria 2007

Client:  Queensland Department of Employment and Industrial Relations/ NSW Office of Industrial Relations/Industrial Relations Victoria

This project involved telephone surveys of over 2,500 employers in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. The analysis and survey reports were based on information gathered from managers at enterprise level, most of whom had prime responsibility for the day-to-day management of employees. The survey gathered information on topics such as occupations employed, rates of pay, working conditions, consultative arrangements and training practices and workplace change. The primary objective of the state-based surveys was to obtain benchmark statistics on the structures, practices and outcomes associated with industrial relations at the workplace level before major changes in Federal labour law were implemented. The WRC worked closely with the State departments to develop the survey.

Undermining the Ratios: Nurses Under Pressure in Victoria in 2006 2007

Client:  AN - Australian Nurses Federation

This study was the third in a series of surveys developed and conducted by WRC on the working conditions of nurses in Victoria's public sector investigated working hours, workload, shift work and intentions to stay. In particular the questionnaire was aimed at gathering nurses experiences of nurse-patient ratios, a legally mandated workload management tool.

Academic Workload Management Practices in the Faculty of Economics and Business, The University of Sydney 2007

Client:  Faculty of Economics and Business, The University of Sydney

The WRC was commissioned by the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Sydney to conduct a review of academic workload management within the Faculty. The research aims were to summarise the main workload problems for teaching staff at various levels; to identify existing good workload management practice; and to gather views on the development of future Faculty workload policy.

Research for Developing a log of Claims 2006

Client:  The Police Association Victoria

This project involved two surveys, one on 'work value' and the other on 'allowances' emailed to randomly selected Police Association Members. From this research, the WRC developed key issues and recommendations for the 2006 log of claims for the Police Association.

Employee attitudes to Unions 2006

Client:  HSU - Health Services Union

The prime objective of this research was to help key union leaders and officials better understand how the situation and attitudes of the health and aged care workforce was changing. There was also interest in members' views about what was happening to them at work and what they thought of the union. Data were gathered through focus groups with crucial member groups

The long service leave liabilities of DHS-funded social & community service organisations 2006

Client:  Department of Human Services, Victoria

This report reports the results of the 2006 survey, 'Long service leave liabilities of employees covered by the Social and Community Services, Victoria Award, 2000'. The project arose from a desire to improve the attractiveness of, and retention rates in, the social and community services sector in Victoria. Retention problems and recruitment difficulties are widespread throughout the sector. One possible remedial strategy aimed at making the sector more attractive to employees is to introduce long service leave portability between employers.

Beyond burning time: An evaluation of the Victorian Prison Industries 2006

Client:  Corrections Victoria

This paper reports on an evaluation of Victoria's Prison Industries. It is based on data collected from key informants knowledgeable of their operation and all parties involved in their day to day running at five prisons. The report includes an overview of the PI program; an evaluation of the adequacy of the program in achieving its stated objectives; an evaluation of the adequacy of the program for contemporary business, employment or education needs given the changing economic context; and advice on how the program might be improved.

Wage Policy in an Era of Deepening Inequality 2006

Client:  Academy of Social Sciences

In this paper, we aim to integrate a number of disparate threads whose logic is often seen in isolation. We draw the connections between developments in commercial law and the wages system, between the welfare-to-work debate and low wages, and between life-cycle issues and wage setting. Moreover, we also en-gage in a modest amount of [philosophical] 'under-labouring' by clearing the terrain of some of its confusing terminology and its anachronistic dualisms - unhelpful dichotomies like 'centralised versus decentralised' and 'regulated versus unregulated'. We propose a new concept -coordinated flexibility - as one way of moving forward in this area.

Standards at Work: Options for Australia 2006

Client:  Chifley Research Centre

Australia has a long tradition of leading the world in setting labour standards. Work Choices almost completely dismantles the safety net of minimum labour standards from 20 to 5 matters (and just 3 for casuals). This research begins with an assessment of the key features of labour standards under Work Choices, moving on to illustrate why Work Choices is flawed policy on economic and administrative efficiency grounds and establishes the case for reform. The report explains the design principles of reform, before going on to consider various procedural options for reform. This is followed by an outline of what a new set of labour standards might look like, in terms of both content and coverage.

Victoria Workplace IR Survey 2006

Client:  Industrial Relations Victoria

The aim of this project was to quantitatively analyse the workplace and industrial relations practices of employers in Victoria. For this project WRC developed and administered a state-wide survey to examine the employment practices of workplaces following the introduction of the WorkChoices legislation.

Safety Incentives in the NSW Coal Mining Industry 2006

Client:  CFMEU - Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union/WorkCover NSW

This research explored the nature of incentive schemes and other performance related bonuses operating in the metalliferous and coal mining and energy sectors in NSW and evaluated the health and safety implications of their use. Research methods used included: a review of the relevant literature; case studies of incentive schemes in power stations; key informant interviews and surveys with union officials and delegates, employees and management of power stations; and focus group discussions. The final report included a set of recommendations regarding strategies for improving health and safety schemes at worksites and a proposed methodology for assessing the likely impact of such incentives.

RACP 2005 Clinical Workforce Survey 2006

Client:  Royal Australasian College of Physicians

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians Clinical Workforce Survey was redeveloped in 2005 to reflect the changing nature of the medical workforce and emerging issues of interest to the College and its members. Additional questions were posed to examine participation in continuing professional development, the availability of flexible working practices, involvement in patient care in remote and rural Australia, and to identify potential workforce trends. The coverage of the survey was also widened to include for the first time to include fellows from Australasian Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine, Australasian Chapter of Addictive Medicine, and the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine. Based on a questionnaire of members, this report presents an analysis of the responses from RACP members in Australia and New Zealand who define themselves and currently clinically active or semi-retired


Managing labour and skill shortages in QLD Aged Care: The quality jobs/quality care nexus 2006

Client:  Queensland Community Services and Health Industries Training Council - Health and Community Services Workforce Council

This project investigated the current needs of the mature aged workforce in the Aged Care industry in Queensland. Based on case studies, key informant interviews and guided by a steering committee of the Aged Care Workforce Development Network, the purpose of this research was to provide recommendations on how best to address the issue of skill recruitment and retention in an increasingly casualised workforce.

The likely coverage of WorkChoices in Victoria: Characteristics of Unincorporated Employees 2006

Client:  Industrial Relations Victoria

This report explored the question of how many workers in Victoria were likely to be covered by the Federal Workplace Relations Act following the WorkChoices amendments?, which required particular attention to the question of how many employees worked in unincorporated business entities? This paper reported on some general characteristics of employees in unincorporated entities in Victoria: their earning, industries, occupations, the size of organisation they work in and the method by which their pay is set.

Victorian IR National 2005

Client:  Industrial Relations Victoria

This submission was made on behalf of the States of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory (the State and Territory Governments), for the Minimum Wage Case 2005. The submission examines changes in the wages, cost of living and developments in enterprise bargaining agreements.

Australian Workplace Agreements: what's in it for the worker? 2005

Client:  CFMEU - Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union

This report examines why workers may freely choose for their conditions to be set by an AWA, whether or not individual workers are better off under an AWA, the impact of AWAs on families, and their impact on labour market health, particularly with regard to efficiency.

State Comparisons of Industrial Relations 2005

Client:  Industrial Relations Victoria

This report of the findings of the State Comparison of Industrial Relations was part a wider study of the industrial relations climate in Victoria. The report is a unique snapshot based on a survey of private sector workplaces with 20 or more employees located in NSW, South Australia and Queensland. Findings include that overall, the Victorian industrial relations climate is similar to other states, and that employers in construction in Victoria are more likely than their inter-State counterparts to feel negatively about the state of industrial relations at their workplace. However, 80 to 90 per cent of managers in Victoria feel positive about their industrial relations situation.

NEST: Turnover and earnings of cleaners 2005

Client:  NEST

This report has been produced to assist NEST in conducting financial projections of employee liabilities. It looks specically at the occupation of cleaning (ASCO 91) and provides estimates of the number of workers in that occupation, broken down by their length of occupational tenure. Turnover numbers and rates are calculated for these data, as are median hourly earnings, average number of weekly hours worked, and age at entry into the occupation.

QWIRS Report: Queensland Workplace Industrial Relations Survey 2005

Client:  Queensland Department of Employment and Industrial Relations

The Queensland Industrial Relations Survey was conducted during October and November 2005. It consisted of a 20 minute telephone interview with managers of Queensland workplaces employing five or more employees. It excluded workplaces in agriculture, forestry and fishing, and in public administration. The survey aimed to collect data on a range of issues including:

  • the workforce and workplace profile;
  • methods of setting pay and conditions in the workplace;
  • wages and entitlements of the workforce;
  • information on union membership and industrial relations within the workplace;
  • workforce additions and reductions;
  • profits, labour costs and productivity;
  • various policies in place; and
  • various attitudes held by managers.

Wage forecasting tool: Summary of the Feasibility study 2005-2006 2005

Client:  Members Equity Bank

Members Equity Bank (MEB) commissioned the Workplace Research Centre to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of developing a Wage Forecasting Tool. The goal was to measure aggregate wages growth across key unionised sectors in the Australian economy and attempt to arrive at an economy wide estimate of annual earnings growth. The WRC worked in collaboration with the ACTU.

Leading Senior Constables Classification Review 2005

Client:  Police Association Victoria

The Police Association of Victoria (the Association) commissioned the Workplace Research Centre (Formerly ACIRRT) to conduct a review of the Leading Senior Constable Classification. The classification was introduced to the Force via the 2001 Certified Agreement. Since 1994 the Association has pursued a policy to deliver the principles of a classification system of this kind. The review examined the performance of the classification. The major part of our review was a phone survey of over 400 operational police members and is the primary data source used for the evaluation.

Academic Loadings and Benefits 2005

Client:  Australian Business Schools

The Workplace Research Centre (formerly ACCIRT) conducted a survey of Australian business schools/faculties to ascertain the extent to which academic staff receive payments that are not specified in the relevant enterprise agreement. In particular, ACCIRT considered the level of market and merit loadings paid in each discipline and at each level.

Minimum Wage Case 2005, Submission of the State and Territory Governments 2005

Client:  Industrial Relations Victoria

This submission was made on behalf of the States of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory (the State and Territory Governments), for the Minimum Wage Case 2005.

Real Earnings Trends by Income Distribution 2005

Client:  Labour Council of NSW

This paper is a selection of the best available published data on the distribution of earnings and trends in the last 10 years. Also included are details of unpublished unit record file earnings ABS data from 1997 and 2001.

Young People and Work Survey 2005

Client:  Workplace Research Centre - WRC/ NSW Office of Industrial Relations

This survey was developed by the Workplace Research Centre (formerly ACIRRT) in association with the NSW Office of Industrial Relations. The survey was sent out in hard copy format to every high school in New South Wales and to youth networks via the Youth Advisory Council. It was also available on three government websites. The report profiles young workers and covers a number of issues such as job status, proper documentation, unpaid work, bullying, dangerous jobs, and finding help with issues regarding employment.

Federal IR reform: the shape of things to come 2005

Client:  Unions NSW

The WRC was commissioned to assess the Federal Government's proposed industrial relations legislation (WorkChoices) and to estimate its possible consequences for Australian workplaces, labour markets and communities.