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Fair Work: the national industrial relations system

Fair Work is the national industrial relations system, and affects most employers in NSW. It became fully operational on 1 January 2010, however some of the laws – such as unfair dismissal and agreement-making – came into force on 1 July 2009.

On 1 January 2010 there were several important changes:

  • all private sector employers in NSW are now national system employers 
  • new modern awards cover most employees 
  • new National Employment Standards (NES) impose new minimum conditions of employment.

Fair Work applies to any 'national system employer'.  


What’s a 'national system employer' and am I one of them?

'National system employer' refers to an employer in a Territory, a 'constitutional corporation' (in layman's language this means an incorporated commercial trading business) and an employer 'referred' under federal industrial relations coverage by state legislation.

All private sector employers in NSW are in the national system and subject to the federal Fair Work Act. Prior to 1 January 2010, many employers were already in the national system, but whether you are new to the national system or not, you must comply with the Fair Work Act, including:

  • unfair dismissal provisions 
  • enterprise bargaining provisions
  • general protections regime.


Click on the links below to find out more about the Fair Work system  

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Unfair dismissal laws under the Fair Work Act
Do you know what your obligations are when dismissing an employee?...
more
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The Fair Work Ombudsman
Understanding the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman....
more

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2010 award wages decision
The first wage review decision under the Fair Work Act became effective from 1 July 2010. What does it mean for your business?...
more
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Understanding Modern Awards
What Modern Awards mean for your business....
more

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National Employment Standards
A snapshot of the 10 minimum workplace entitlements under the National Employment Standards....
more
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New collective bargaining agreements
The Fair Work system introduced new rules affecting collective agreements between employers and employees....
more

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