Employer and employer association matters in Australia in 2020

Louise Thornthwaite*, Peter Sheldon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The emphasis of employers and employer associations, when 2020 began, was largely business as usual. With the pandemic’s advent, employers and associations reoriented some industrial relations activity, which encouraged cooperation while also highlighting sharp divisions. As the year progressed, however, it became increasingly apparent that the federal government’s responses to the pandemic provided unanticipated opportunities for the employer movement to push intensively their long-expressed desires for changes to the institutional structures of industrial relations, and hence also bargaining and other processes. This article examines these and other activities which preoccupied employers and their associations in 2020 while also analysing some broader environmental, social and governance challenges affecting employer groups, which impact on their purpose and place within the employer movement more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-376
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number3
Early online date9 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Employer
  • employer associations
  • enterprise bargaining
  • legislation
  • politics
  • social licence


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