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The work-life provisions of the Fair Work Act: A compromise of stakeholder preference
journal contributionposted on 06.08.2018, 00:00 by J Waterhouse, Linda Colley
This paper adopts a stakeholder analysis approach to policy formulation to consider the Rudd Government’s success in achieving its work-life balance goals through the Fair Work Act (FWA), the extent to which it consulted stakeholders and the stakeholders to whom it listened. We explore the stated interests of key stakeholders in the process. We review the legislation, the parliamentary debates, and submissions to the Senate Inquiry into the Fair Work Bill 2008. We also consider the related and simultaneous Productivity Commission enquiry into paid parental leave up until the May 2009 federal budget. The paper concludes that the FWA develops a prescriptive response to work-life balance in establishing National Employment Standards for substantive issues including parental leave, maximum hours of work, paid personal carers’ leave, compassionate leave, community service leave and the right to request flexible working arrangements. The Act is less prescriptive, however, in relation to process provisions, in particular the powers of the newly established ‘Fair Work Australia’ to hear and intercede in disputes regarding work-life balance provisions. There is a lack of clarity about individual flexibility agreements and the assessment of the ‘Better Off Overall Test’ (BOOT). The weak process provisions represent an uneasy and perhaps unworkable compromise between the competing demands of stakeholders.