The Fair Work Commission and Fair Work Ombudsman explained

Author: Lehanne Bleumink, Gold Seal HR Services Manager.

It can be confusing for employers and workers to know which organisation to refer to regarding employment matters. There is the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman, but who is responsible for what?

The Fair Work Commission is Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal. Its role is to assist employers and workers to maintain fair and productive workplaces. The Commission is an independent body that operates under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Its role includes the following:

  • Setting minimum wages
  • Creating and changing modern awards
  • Approving enterprise agreements, and
  • Acting as the independent umpire in disputes, including unfair dismissal claims.

Individuals can go to the Commission if they believe they have been:

  • Unfairly dismissed
  • Discriminated against, victimised or unfairly treated under the provisions of the Fair Work Act, or
  • Bullied at work and want an order to prevent the bullying.

The Commission does not handle complaints about wages, superannuation or workplace safety; these matters are handled by other government agencies (such as the Australian Taxation Office, Safe Work Australia). The Fair Work Commission can provide information over the telephone or at one of their offices. They cannot provide legal advice or advice on how to best run a case, however they can give information on to following:

  • Processes in the Fair Work Commission
  • How to make an application to the Fair Work Commission and how to respond to an application that is made against you
  • How to fill out forms
  • Where to find useful documents and other organisations to assist you.

The Fair Work Commission’s website contains a range of information that can help prepare for a hearing or conference.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is a separate organisation from the Fair Work Commission. The Ombudsman plays an important role in ensuring that workers receive their correct wages, holidays and entitlements. It provides advice about the minimum entitlements to modern awards and the Fair Work Act.

The Fair Work Ombudsman helps employers and workers understand rights and responsibilities under Australian workplace laws, by providing information and education as well as tools, templates and guides. They also work with employers and workers to resolve workplace issues which may arise. In cases of serious non-compliance its inspectors can investigate possible breaches of workplace laws. Their services are free to all workers and employers in Australia.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s website has information on the following:

  • Modern awards, so employers and workers can get information on correct entitlements
  • Information about different types of employment and employee/employer rights
  • Questions and answers about working conditions, wages, leave entitlements and termination
  • Information on how to request help.

The Fair Work Commission and Fair Work Ombudsman each serve a purpose in the Australian workplace relations regime to ensure workplaces operate fairly and harmoniously.

For assistance on any of your HR/IR requirements – call Gold Seal on 03 9510 5100 or email

2018-01-12T13:34:52+00:00January 12th, 2018|Articles, HR News, News|