Alternative dispute resolution and individual workplace rights: the evolving role of Fair Work Australia

Therese MacDermott*, Joellen Riley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the dispute resolution practices of Fair Work Australia that are evolving to deal with individual workplace rights, as its traditional role shifts away from conciliating and arbitrating collective industrial disputes. The workplace rights enshrined in the 'general protections' provisions in Part 3-1 of the Fair Work Act 2009 protect employees and prospective employees from any 'adverse action' taken against them because they are exercising a workplace right, or because they fall within one of the protected categories, such as the right to be free from discrimination. A broad range of alternative dispute resolution processes is now available to Fair Work Australia in dealing with such disputes. Alternative dispute resolution processes are seen as a way of avoiding costly and time-consuming litigation, and in some circumstances can improve access to justice for individuals. This article explores whether Fair Work Australia is likely to adopt different dispute resolution approaches from its traditional conciliation practices when managing 'general protections' applications, and whether the framework for dealing with these disputes will facilitate fair recognition and enforcement of workplace rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-732
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • alternative dispute resolution
  • Fair Work Act
  • individual grievances


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