Support Material for Legal Studies


Option 6: Workplace 25% of course time



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Option 6: Workplace 25% of course time



Principal focus: Through the use of contemporary examples, students investigate legal rights and responsibilities and the effectiveness
of the law in achieving justice in the workplace.




Outcomes

H1. identifies and applies legal concepts and terminology

H3. analyses the operation of domestic and international legal systems

H4. evaluates the effectiveness of the legal system in addressing issues

H5. explains the role of law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict, as well as initiating and responding to change

H6. assesses the nature of the interrelationship between the legal system and society

H7. evaluates the effectiveness of the law in achieving justice

H8. locates, selects, organises, synthesises and analyses legal information from a variety of sources including legislation, cases, media, international instruments and documents

H9. communicates legal information using well-structured and logical arguments

H10. analyses differing perspectives and interpretations of legal information and issues






Themes and challenges to be incorporated throughout the topic:

  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in the workplace
  • issues of compliance and non-compliance


  • laws relating to the workplace as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards

  • the role of law reform in recognising rights and enforcing responsibilities in the workplace

  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice in the workplace.







Assessment: Extended response on the effectiveness of workplace law.




Students learn about:

Students learn to:

Suggested teaching and learning strategies

Themes and challenges

1 The nature of workplace law










  • the changing nature of workplace law over time




  • outline the developing need for workplace law




Create a mind map to show the developing need for workplace law.

Activity: Outline how the workplace has changed.

What are the implications of change? Consider the nature of the employee/employer, master/servant relationship, the role of state, the continuum from laissez-faire to state intervention.

Develop a time line on the evolution of workplace law.

In one page, explain the difficulties of your work as a chimney sweep in Victorian Britain. Suggest one workplace law that would improve your work situation.



Field study: Visit a local workplace and develop interview questions relating to different aspects of the syllabus.

Class discussion: Why do employees need protection? What are the objectives of workplace law?


  • the role of law reform in recognising rights and enforcing responsibilities in the workplace

  • contracts:

  • of service

  • for services

  • express and implied terms




  • outline the sources of workplace regulations




Explain the concept of a contract of employment. Distinguish between contracts ‘of’ and ‘for’ service.
Integrate case examples such as Zuijs v Wirth Brothers Pty Ltd (1955) 93 CLR 561; Stevens v Brodribb Sawmilling Company Pty Ltd (1986) 160 CLR 16.
Develop student-generated examples of implied and express terms – introduce the common law and statutory basis.

Discussion on how workers can be protected by implied terms in workplace contracts. Highlight the responsibilities of both employers and employees.

  • laws relating to the workplace as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards




  • awards and agreements










Briefly introduce the state and federal framework for workplace regulation. Consider state and federal awards, collective agreements, Australian workplace agreements.

Teacher-led examination of the political nature of workplace law and the significant role of the state.

Note: Ideally go to government and non-government sites to find out the latest information. This could be developed as student-based research although it is a difficult area in which most students will require significant guidance.



Resources: www.industrialrelations.nsw.gov.au/

www.deewr.gov.au/

www.dfat.gov.au/facts/workplace_relations.html

Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)




  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in the workplace



  • issues of compliance and non-compliance

  • statutory conditions







Class discussion on the traditional power imbalance between employer and employee. Find out which students have part-time work and discuss their own observations.
Develop a table outlining the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees – identify the legal source of each.

Role-play situations where rights have been infringed – students suggest negotiated solutions to issues.




  • laws relating to the workplace as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards

2. Regulation of the workplace










  • industrial relations – the state and federal framework




  • examine the legal framework for workplace law




Make notes on the state and federal framework. Revisit constitutional division of powers. Brainstorm the need for regulation and the problems with a federal system.

Define key terms and concepts – students develop a glossary.

Examine and make notes on the roles of:

  • federal bodies, eg Australian Industrial Relations Commission, Workplace Authority and Workplace Ombudsman which were replaced by Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman

  • state bodies, eg NSW Industrial Relations Commission

Resources: www.industrialrelations.nsw.gov.au/awards/controller.jsp

www.workplaceauthority.gov.au

www.deewr.gov.au/

www.wo.gov.au/asp/index.asp

  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in the workplace



  • issues of compliance and non-compliance
  • negotiations between employers and employees


  • evaluate the effectiveness of dispute resolution processes




Brainstorm and develop a mind map on the form of negotiations (individual action, workplace bargaining, enterprise bargaining, collective agreements, consensual dispute resolution – mediation and grievance procedures).
Outline the historical development of dispute resolution mechanisms – Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 (Cth), Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) and prepare a timeline of key events. Consider both legal and non-legal aspects.

Consider the nature of industrial disputes, and measures used by employees and employers to gain leverage in a dispute (strikes, etc).

Role-play workplace bargaining conflicts. Use current cases where possible. In one or more scenarios illustrating a typical workplace dispute, students investigate:

  • the issue/nature of the conflict

  • the main players

  • resolution mechanisms

  • outcome(s)

  • an evaluation of the effectiveness of the process.

You could make up scenarios or research real disputes such as Patrick Stevedores (watch the TV miniseries Bastard Boys). For film clips and ideas go to: www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/ http://australianscreen.com.au/


  • role of law reform in recognising rights and enforcing responsibilities in the workplace




  • the roles of:

  • courts and tribunals

  • governmental organisations

  • assess the role of the legal system in regulating the workplace


  • laws relating to the workplace as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards













  • trade unions




  • employer associations



  • non-government organisations



  • the media




Writing task: The effectiveness of workplace dispute resolution processes. Include an examination of recent changes and future directions. In your answer, include a variety of sources such as legislation, cases, media, international instruments and/or documents.
You be the judge: Mock trial of an industrial dispute presented before a commissioner.
Examine the changing role of unions.

Class debate: ‘Unions are redundant in the 21st century.’



www.rightsatwork.com.au/
Outline the role of employer organisations. Consider them from the perspective of a large employer, a small enterprise and employees.
Examine the importance of NGOs, eg the role of the International Labour Organisation in setting standards (note that this did influence the Workplace Relations Act in promoting family-friendly practices).

Collect pamphlets and/or brochures and/or fact sheets from the internet, etc, which illustrate the activities of a range of organisations whose aim is to assist workers. Highlight and summarise main points.

Watch appropriate episodes of the ABC’s Media Watch on bias in the media.



  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in the workplace


  • issues of compliance and non-compliance




  • remuneration




  • outline how remuneration is determined




Guest speaker: Industrial relations lawyer/commissioner.

An examination of remuneration could be integrated into the section on negotiations between employers and employees.



Newspaper or net search for job ads – match skills, experience and qualifications to remuneration and bargaining power.










  • evaluate the effectiveness of legal and non-legal measures in protecting and recognising workplace rights

Brainstorm the various aspects of remuneration.
Examine the principles of adequate remuneration. Relate to welfare concerns and cultural considerations.
Conduct a class debate on the relevance of the following statement for the 21st century:

‘A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.’



Make notes on the rationale and function of the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard. Assess the relevance of the standard in protecting rights and maintaining social justice. Compare the standard with the National Employment Standards.
Develop a futures wheel on the directions for workplace reform.

Written response: ‘Evaluate the effectiveness of legal and non-legal measures in protecting and recognising workplace rights. Integrate current legislation, cases, media, international instruments and/or documents in your response.’




  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice in the workplace




3. Contemporary issues concerning the workplace










Issues that must be studied:


  • discrimination




  • identify and investigate these contemporary issues involving workplace law and evaluate the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses to these issues.


Develop a table outlining the types of discrimination and listing the relevant federal and state legislation applicable to each.
Investigate the role of the Anti-Discrimination Board and Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) (where cases are heard) and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Resources: www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/adb www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/adt

www.humanrights.gov.au/




  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in the workplace



  • issues of compliance and non-compliance






Investigate a discrimination case – go to Austlii and follow links to ADT cases – by scrolling down to legislation cited, select an Anti-Discrimination Act decision. Summarise the case and assess how the law dealt with the dispute.

Research the concept of affirmative action – consider its relevance in Australia and debate whether it is morally and ethically appropriate.

Consider the standards set by international law – focus on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly

Resources: www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/

www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/nsw/

www.eowa.gov.au

www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au


  • laws relating to the workplace as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards

  • the role of law reform in recognising rights and enforcing responsibilities in the workplace




  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice in the workplace

  • safety







Make notes on the common law duty of care owed to employees. Case law: Paris v Stepney Borough Council (1951) AC 367.

Examine the statutory duties of both employees and employers. Focus on the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (NSW).
Students tour the school and identify and catalogue OHS breaches. Prepare a report to the appropriate school officer and follow up the action taken.

  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in the workplace



  • issues of compliance and non-compliance








Research the nature and function of workers compensation under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) and the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (NSW).

Make notes on the role of WorkCover – Explore the site www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

Refer to case law: Kahloo v Glenidle Pty Ltd [2006] NSWWCCPD 221. Summarise the issue and the resolution of the matter.
Consider the importance of rehabilitation. How has the legal system formally encouraged both employees and employers in this area?

  • laws relating to the workplace as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards



  • the role of law reform in recognising rights and enforcing responsibilities in the workplace

  • termination of employment







Explain the various forms termination may take: dismissal with notice; dismissal without notice; wrongful or unfair dismissal.

Role-play scenarios where an employer wants to dismiss an employee, covering all types of dismissal.

Investigate relevant case examples, eg Pepper v Webb (1969) 1 WLR 514.

Class discussion about the different perspectives on decreasing the right to redress for employees for wrongful dismissal.

Class debate: ‘Business should have the right to sack whoever they like.’

Draw on student experience – encourage them to ask family members, etc, for their experiences.



  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice in the workplace




  • leave







Outline the current framework for leave provisions under federal and state law, eg maternity and paternity, carers.
Consider the forces driving changes in the way society views leave: technology, changing community standards, international developments.

Outline what is meant by family-friendly practices and develop a case study of a business which has embraced family friendly practices and flexible leave provisions.
Consider the standards set by international law. Focus on the role of the International Labour Organisation in setting standards (note that this did influence the Workplace Relations Act in regard to promoting family friendly practices) and the Family Responsibilities Convention.
Hypothetical: Students design their own charter for an ethical and family-friendly workplace.

Class debate on the issue of maternity (paternity) leave in Australia. Identify the relevant players in this issue and the impact in terms of ethics, social values and community expectations, as well as economic and financial considerations.

  • the role of the law in encouraging cooperation and resolving conflict in the workplace




  • issues of compliance and non-compliance




  • laws relating to the workplace as a reflection of changing values and ethical standards


  • the role of law reform in recognising rights and enforcing responsibilities in the workplace












Scaffold an extended response on the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses to issues of discrimination, safety, termination and leave in the workplace. Students could do this separately for each point or holistically considering all the issues.

Extension considerations

To what extent should the law regulate human and/or business behaviour?

What further reform may be needed to meet future challenges posed by changes in the workplace?




  • the effectiveness of legal and non-legal responses in achieving justice in the workplace







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