This glossary of terms is provided to assist readers with terms which may appear in the documents on this website or which are commonly used in employment relations. Please be aware of the Terms of Use of this website before using this glossary of terms.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y

A

Adoption Leave: an entitlement to leave provided to an employee who has recently adopted a child.

Age discrimination: the less favourable treatment of a person or a group of people because of their age.

Annual Leave: Paid leave which is usually four weeks each year. This leave accrues on a pro-rata basis.

Anti-Discrimination Legislation: State and Federal legislation established to remove or inhibit discrimination based on certain, specified characteristics.

Arbitration: a dispute resolution process in which an independent third party makes a decision which is legally binding on the participants as the means of resolving the dispute. One of the dispute resolution processes used by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Archdiocese: a geographical area or district under the pastoral care of an Archbishop.

Australian Industrial Relations Commission: independent industrial tribunal established under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) to carry out the following broad functions:

  • facilitate agreement making between employers and employees or organisations of employees about wages and conditions of employment

  • ensure that a safety net of fair minimum wages and conditions of employment is established and maintained

  • prevent and settle industrial disputes, so far as possible by conciliation, and, where appropriate within the limits specified by the Workplace Relations Act 1996 [WR Act], by arbitration

  • facilitate equal remuneration for work of equal value

  • conciliate claims for relief in relation to termination of employment, and if necessary to arbitrate whether a termination is harsh, unjust or unreasonable

  • deal with matters concerning organisations, particularly registration, amalgamation, cancellation, representation rights, alteration of eligibility rules and change of name (AIRC Website: www.airc.gov.au).

 

Australian Workplace Agreement: formal agreement made between an employer and an individual employee, pursuant to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth).

Award: a legally binding order made by an industrial tribunal establishing the minimum rights and obligations of employers and employees in regards to wages, salaries, conditions of employment and other industrial issues.

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B

Bereavement Leave: an entitlement to leave provided to an employee on the death of a close relative.

C

Carers Leave: an entitlement to leave provided to an employee to care for close relatives or members of the same household.

Casual Employment: employment which is irregular, discontinuous and not guaranteed from one period to another. Each work period is considered to be a separate and distinct period of service.

Catholic Social Teaching: a set of principles and teachings based on Christian values that aim to bring about a good and fair society for the benefit of all.

Certified Agreement: a collective agreement about the terms and conditions of employment at a workplace made between an employer and groups of employees or their representatives made in accordance with the requirements of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) and certified by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Conciliation: a dispute resolution process in which an independent third party, the conciliator, assists in the settlement of the dispute. One of the dispute resolution processes used by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Constructive Dismissal: termination of an employee’s employment brought about by a fundamental unilateral variation to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment or breach of the employment contract by the Employer which is so significant that it goes to the root of the contract.

Contract of Employment: the contract established between an employer and an employee establishing the terms and conditions of employment for that employee. It is the basis of the employment relationship.

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D

Deed of Release: a legal document used for the settlement of legal action such as a dispute over termination of employment or redundancy. Generally the deed will state that the person executing it releases and discharges the other party from all other actions, suits, claims, demands, costs and other liabilities of any nature arising out of or in connection with the disputed matter.

Diocese: a geographical area or district under the pastoral care of a Bishop.

Direct Discrimination: occurs if a person treats or proposes to treat, someone with an attribute less favourably than the person treats or would treat someone without that attribute, or a different attribute in the same or similar circumstances.

Disability Discrimination: occurs when a person treats or proposes to treat, someone with a disability less favourably, than they would treat or propose to treat someone without the disability.

Discrimination: the less favourable treatment of a person or a group of people because of race, colour national or ethnic origin; gender or marital status; disability; religion or political beliefs; sexual preference; or some other central characteristic as listed in relevant legislation.

Dismissal of an employee: the ending or termination of an employee’s employment by the employer.

Dispute Settlement Procedure: the procedure or method of resolving industrial disputes at the workplace. This may be regulated by an Award, Certified Agreement or Australian Workplace Agreement.

Diversity in employment: the employment of people from different racial, religious and social backgrounds.

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E

Employee: a person working under a contract of employment. Traditionally, the courts have defined an employee as being a person who is working under the "control" or direction of the employer in exchange for payment.

Enterprise Bargaining: The bargaining or negotiation of the terms and conditions of employment between employers and employees or their respective representatives at the enterprise level.

Equal Opportunity: the concept that every employee is equal within the workplace irrespective of sex, age, race, religious belief, or physical handicap or disability and as such should be treated as equal.

F

Federal Court: Court established by the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth). Certain industrial relations matters may be heard by the Federal Court, as required in the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth). (Federal Court website: www.fedcourt.gov.au)

Flexible Working Hours: A system of work which allows employees to start and finish work between a flexible range of agreed hours, so long as a set amount of hours are worked per day or week.

Freedom of Association: the right of employees and employers to join an organisation or association of their choice, or not to join an organisation or association without discrimination or victimisation.

Full-Time Employment: employment which requires a person to work for the full ordinary working hours of every week.

G

Good Faith Bargaining: bargaining, which is done honestly, and with good faith between the parties.

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H

Human Resource Management: the management of all of the functions and activities within an organisation pertaining to the employment relationship.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission: A commonwealth government body established under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act 1986 (Cth), to inquire into and where possible settle by conciliation, allegations of discrimination. (HREOC Website: www.hreoc.gov.au)

I

Independent Contractor: a person working under a contract for the provision of services, as distinct from a contract of service in which an employer/employee relationships exist. An independent contractor is not an employee.

Indirect Discrimination: occurs if a person imposes or proposes to impose a required condition or practice:-

a.)

that someone with an attribute does not or cannot comply

b.)

that a higher proportion of people without the attribute do or can comply: and

c.)

that is not reasonable.

Industrial Action: colloquial term for the various activities which either employers or employees may use during an industrial dispute to place increased pressure on the other party. For example: industrial action taken by employees may include strike action; industrial action taken by employers may include locking employees out of the workplace.

Industrial Relations: the management or study of the relationships between employees, working groups, unions, managers, employers and employer associations and the intervention into these relationships by government.

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J

Just Wage: Catholic Social Teaching has traditionally proclaimed a just wage to be a level of remuneration that allows an employee to support him or herself, and their family, in dignity

L

Living Wage: the wage required by an employee in order to achieve a decent standard of living.

Long Service Leave: an entitlement to leave provided to employees as a reward for "long service" with the same employer. Entitlement to long service leave may vary depending on the terms and conditions of employment.

M

Maternity Leave: an entitlement to leave provided to female employees in respect of pregnancy and maternity.

Mediation: a dispute resolution process in which an independent third party assists in the process of finding a settlement for the resolution to the dispute.

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N

No-Disadvantage Test: statutory test applied to Certified Agreementnd Australian Workplace Agreements to ensure that employees are not "on the whole" disadvantaged by the agreement when compared to the appropriate award minima. Global test rather than a line-by-line comparison.

Not For Profit Organisations: organisations which are prohibited from distributing a profit or surplus of assets when they are wound up. Benefits may be distributed in other ways, such as lower costs for members.

Notice of Termination: period of notice given by either the employer or the employee before terminating a contract of employment. Required periods of notice are prescribed in the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth).

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O

Occupational Health and Safety: the general categorisation which spans the physiological and psychological needs and well being of all people employed within an organisation. Legislation regulating occupational health and safety is found at the State and Federal jurisdictions.

Office of the Employment Advocate: industrial tribunal office established under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) to:

  • provide and assistance to employers and employees about their rights and obligations under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) and more generally about Australian Workplace Agreements; and

  •  

  • approve Australian Workplace Agreements: and

  •  

  • investigate contraventions of the provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) relating to Freedom of Association.

  •  

Ordinary Hours: standard working hours for which employees are remunerated at an ordinary time rate of pay.

Ordinary Pay: remuneration for an employees normal weekly number of hours of work calculated at the ordinary time rate of pay.

Outsourcing/Contracting Out: arrangement between two or more organisations to "contract out," "outsource" or transfer the ownership, management and possibly staff of a function of one of the organisations to the other(s) another.

Overtime: work undertaken by an employee which is outside or in excess of the employee’s ordinary hours of work.

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P

Parental Leave: composite term which includes maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

Part-time Employment: regular employment for less than the total full ordinary working hours per week.

Pastoral Care: the work involved or the situation which exists when one person has the responsibility for the care and well being of another.

Paternity Leave: an entitlement to leave for fathers upon the birth or adoption of their child.

Penalty Rates: additional remuneration provided to employees on top of the ordinary pay received to compensate for loss of benefits or for working shiftwork or additional hours.

Performance Management: the management or review of a person’s performance or behaviour at the workplace.

R

Race Discrimination: occurs when a person is treated less favourably than someone else in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.

Redeployment: the transfer of an employee’s position within the organisation because the position undertaken by that employee is no longer required.

Redundancy: the termination of an employee’s employment on the basis that the position undertaken by that employee is no longer required within the organisation.

Restraint of Trade: an express covenant in a contract of employment which restricts an employee’s post- employment freedom. For a restraint of trade to be enforceable it must be reasonable.

Retirement: where an employee leaves work due to their age.

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S

Serious Misconduct: conduct undertaken by the employee which is so seriously in breach of their contract of employment it justifies the employee’s employment being terminated summarily.

Severance Pay: payment made to an employee on termination of their employment caused by certain prescribed circumstances such as the merger or closing down of an organisation, economic recession, or technological change.

Sex Discrimination: the less favourable treatment of a person or a group of people because of their sex, marital status or pregnancy.

Sexual Harassment: an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, and where that reaction is reasonable in the circumstances.

Sick Leave: an entitlement to leave provided to an employee on the basis that they are unable to attend the workplace due to sickness.

Summary Dismissal: the termination of an employee’s employment without giving notice. Summary Dismissal may only occur under limited circumstances.

Superannuation: the provision of monies by both employers and employees to financially support employees once they have reached a specified threshold age.

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T

Termination of Employment: the legal ending of the employment relationship between an employer and an employee.

Test Case Standard: the conducting of a case by decision of an industrial tribunal in order to which establishes a "standard" condition of employment within the award system.

Trade Union: an organisation of employees which acts collectively and is often concerned with wages and conditions of employment.

U

Unfair Dismissal: the termination of an employee’s employment which is considered to be "unfair," "unjust" or "unreasonable" as regulated under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth).

Unlawful Dismissal: the termination of an employee’s employment on discriminatory grounds as specified in section 170CK of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth).

Unsatisfactory Performance: where the performance or behaviour of an employee at the workplace is below the standard which is required to undertake the tasks or duties of the position in which the employee is employed.

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V

Vicarious Liability: an employer’s legal responsibility for wrongs committed by employees in the course of work.

Volunteers: a person who offers services or assistance to an organisation without the expectation of payment. There is no intention to create a legal relationship between the volunteer and the organisation.

W

Wages and Allowances Review: cases conducted by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission as "test cases" to determine the appropriate level of wages within awards.

Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth): federal industrial relations legislation.

Wrongful Dismissal: the termination of an employee’s employment which is contrary to the law.

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Y

Youth Wages: wages or a payment structure established for people employed under a certain age group.