Management Discretion in Australia Essay

Employment Relations

Management Discretion in Australia

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Contrary to the belief that managers have the utmost say in the work place, it is the reverse that is actually true. This is because of the favorable conditions that the employees receive from the authorities. The unions that represent the employees have also of power and, therefore, control the employees. The Fair Works Authority has the most power with regulations that favor the employees. These reduce the strong hold that a manager may have in the work place. The managers have limited control over the employees due to the constant scrutiny of third parties.

Fair Work Australia

The actions of this independent body affect the extent to which the managers can control the employees in an organization. Most of them are restrictive which provides employees with much freedom. This tribunal sets the minimum wages for the employees. This restricts the managers because they cannot control the employees financially. Even if, the employee does not have effective output that is proportional to the wages, there is no way that the manager can correct the situation. Also, the tribunal sets the conditions for the workers (CCH 10). This is regardless of the deviations in the nature of the work that the employees have in different areas. The Act also provides guidelines on the treatment of employees. This is a restriction to the rules that are available for managers in the hiring process. These guidelines also affect the treatment of the employees after some time. Failures to this, the employees have the right to channel their complaints to this tribunal. The Act also provides a channel where the disputes that arise from the work can be addressed. Furthermore, there is also providence of guidelines on the termination of contracts (CCH 10). All these factors reduce the power that the managers have over the employees. This is due to the many restrictions that come from the Act.

National Employment Standards

There are guidelines that are in the National Employment Standards. These involve the workplace in particular. There are some regulations that bring complications to the manager can suffer from like that where the maximum hours that employees can work is 38 hours. This means that in case of extra work, the manager has no right to force the employees to perform their duties. The employees who have small children and those that have disabilities have distinct rights. These can alter their schedule in work if they please. Some of them could abuse the right and run losses in the organization. However, the managers have no right over this because they are under these regulations. The employees can also leave work for 12 months if they wish (CCH 2010). This abuse could be as a result of the parental leave. The managers find this to be a serious complication because there is no action that they can take against this. The regulation that the employee also has a right to request for more leave time is also another challenge to the managers. These regulations are a clear indication of the limited role that the managers have on their employees.

The managers have no power in the process of dismissing the employee. The basis for this is the regulation about the termination of the contract. The expectation is that before dismissal of an employee from duties, there has to be a notice. This notice has to give a minimum of six weeks. In the case of redundancy, there has to be at least 16 weeks pay (Hor 2009). The basis of these aspects is on the service that they have offered. These regulations have a significant bearing to the situation in the work place. The employees have too much freedom in the work place. The employees can do a shoddy job in the work place, but the manager has restrictions over the punishment. This is because the employees have legal protection and their dismissal has to be warranted. Therefore, the managers do not have full control over all the operations in the work place.

Trade Unions

The Trade unions in Australia are organizations of workers which have ganged together in order to attain a common goal. It is the largest organization in the whole country. In fact, there are 46 individual unions that have affiliation to it. The labor and trade Unions have elected leaders who through the leadership, bargain with their bosses and employers to come up to consensus. However, the managers do not become tasked with the upholding of these guidelines and they only offer advice. The purposes of the organizations are to maintain and improve the various conditions of the employees during the period of their employment. Furthermore, it offers all kinds of protection to the employees in the workplace.

The improvements vary depending on the problems experienced by the workers (Snell 2011). They might include wages negotiations whereby, in a situation where the company remunerates the employees in an unsatisfactory manner. This is through the direct intervention that the union is legally permissible to do. The unions help in negotiating the work rules in that, if the company has its rules and policies and are seen to suppress the workers, the Unions may come in and try to negotiate a better deal with the employers. This acts as a handicap to all the managers who might not agree with the union. However, they have to obey if they were to avoid any problems with the law. This creates a situation where the employees can act as they want then run to the union for protection. The Australian Workers Union is tasked with fighting for solutions between the companies and the workers. In most cases, it is the managers who are hurt by their decisions.

Employee engagement

This refers to the level of dedication that the employees have in the business. It is the willingness of the employee to put more effort in the business than just doing the basics. In Australia, this is rarely the case. Managers get rewards when it comes to the dedication that the members in their department portray (Macaulay 2011). However, the levels of this dedication are unusually low in Australia. The reason for this low engagement from the employees is usually as a result of the direct relationship that they have with the manager. This is where these two come together to relate in a positive manner that will give morale to the staff to produce more. In the case where the employees are new, then the manager has to make sure that there is a positive relationship from the stage of recruiting (Rashid 2011). If a manager comes and finds an already existent team, then it is all about re-motivation. This is through the comprehension of what drives the members of the staff.

Qantas dispute 2011

The disputes between workers and organizations are common in the country. In 2011, Qantas was at logger heads with some three unions. This is because the managers’ intention was to cut the pay for their employees. The managers also wanted to change the work practices to favor them. This was because they thought that the employees had excess power. Management also wanted to lower the expenses that occur due to labor by taking the jobs offshore. The argument was that since they were the managers, they had a right to do that. However, the employees approached three trade unions to champion for their case (Lawrence 2011). These unions were on the basis of the different types of employees that were in the organization. Each department approached the necessary union and they all united. They were now motivated to be part of some actions that they believed would bring justice to them. The response of management was to lock them out of their work in October 2011. However, the management did not have the utmost power. The unions took up the cases with the authorities. Their decision was scrutinized by Fair Work Australia and was, consequently, terminated. This is a show of the lack of control that the managers have in the operations. In any case, the regulations in the country favor the employees and managers have to conform to regulations from the legal bodies.


The work places in the country reflect a real indication of the limited control that the managers have on the employees. The actions that they can undertake to impose their force on the employees have a limitation from the authorities. The Fair Work Australia Act is the most specific on the nature of the work place. It regulates the minimum wages for the employees. This means that the managers have no control over the remunerations that the employees get. Termination of employment is the other issue that the management has little control over. This is because there are regulations from the NES that state the procedures that have to be followed. The example on Qantas is a clear indication of the little control that the managers have in the workplace. In spite of the actions that the organization took to sanction the employees, the final say was with the authorities.


Australian Fair Work Act: With regulations and rules. (2010). Sydney: CCH Australia.

CCH Australia. (2010). Australian master fair work guide. North Ryde, N.S.W: CCH Australia.

CCH Editors. (2010). Understanding the Fair Work Act. Sydney: CCH Australia.

Hor, J., & Keats, L. (2009). Fair Work faqs. Sydney: CCH Australia.

Lawrence, B. (2011). What matters in Qantas confrontation. Eureka Street, 21(21), 16-18.

Macaulay, S., & Cook, S. (2011). Going the extra mile. Training Journal, 23-26.

Qantas fails to resolve union issues. (2011). Airfinance Journal, (245), 83.

Rashid, H., Asad, a., & Ashraf, M. (2011). Factors Persuading Employee Engagement and Linkage of EE to Personal & Organizational Performance. Interdisciplinary Journal of

Contemporary Research in Business, 3(5), 98-108.

Sitlington, H. (2012). Knowledge sharing: implications for downsizing and restructuring outcomes in Australian organizations. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 50(1),

110. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7941.2011.00003.x

Snell, D., & Fairbrother, P. (2011). Toward a Theory of Union Environmental Politics: Unions

and Climate Action in Australia. Labor Studies Journal, 36(1), 83-103.


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