Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 399. Updated Tuesday, 04 March 2014

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Workplaces under the microscope

The Fair Work Commission has begun one of the most significant studies of Australian workplaces in nearly 20 years.

Data from this study would provide comprehensive, up-to-date information for stakeholders, policymakers and researchers on significant workplace relations matters, it said.

In particular, the Commission will use the data when conducting its annual wage reviews and pay equity matters.

In coming weeks, up to 20 employees each from 3,300 businesses will be invited to participate in the Australian Workplace Relations Study ( AWRS).

President of the Fair Work Commission, Justice Iain Ross, said the AWRS would be the first study since the Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey in 1995 to generate a holistic picture of workplace relations.

Major study launched

"These businesses and their employees will have a unique and confidential opportunity to provide valuable insights into the employment relations environment in Australia," Justice Ross said.

The study's key benefit will be the way it links data from employers and employees from a given enterprise to provide a comprehensive reflection of Australian workplaces.

"Studies of this nature have enabled researchers in other countries to explore a range of employer-employee dynamics that can't be analysed using separate employer and employee information," Justice Ross said.

The broad themes of the research include workforce management, wage-setting and employee engagement practices, and ownership structure, market competitiveness, labour productivity measurements and how enterprises respond to changes to the marketplace.

It will also examine performance, profitability, income sources and key expense items.

Workforce characteristics, including union density, employee demographics, remuneration and engagement, will also be covered.

The development of the study has been overseen by representatives from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Commonwealth Department of Employment, the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The results are expected to be released by early 2015.

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