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Title: Flexibility and choice for whom? The 'Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements' and the individualisation of the Australian academic employment relationship
Contributor(s): Kennedy, Amanda L (author)
Publication Date: 2007
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Abstract: Individualism and collectivism represent distinct approaches to the negotiation and management of the employment relationship. However, it is the more individualised approaches to employment relations that have been attracting increased attention in Australia. This is arguably linked to the current Australian federal government's promotion of such arrangements, which is particularly evident in their endorsement of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), a kind of individual contract which may exclude the operation of any collectively negotiated employment agreements for the relevant employee. The Australian federal government's promotion of AWAs, however, is most aggressive within the higher education sector. Specifically, the Australian federal government's recently introduced Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements (HEWRRs) link university grant funding to the attainment of certain industrial outcomes. These outcomes include the offer of AWAs to all staff members as an alternative to collective agreements to provide 'choice' in agreement making; and that 'university workplace agreements, policies and practices' foster direct relationships with employees and facilitate workplace 'flexibility'. This paper considers the implications of the HEWRRs through the presentation of research from four Australian university case studies, assessing the changing nature of the Australian academic employment relationship. The research indicates that the drive to individualise the academic employment relationship is largely an agenda belonging to the Australian federal government, which is generally being resisted in Australian universities. Despite this, it is clear that universities have at least complied with the HEWRRs – although whether this is due to managerial support for individualised employment relations, or if it is simply a forced action to obtain vital funding, remains uncertain. The paper ultimately questions the future of the Australian academic employment relationship in light of these issues.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: IGLRC 2007: International Graduate Legal Research Conference, London, United Kingdom, 12th April, 2007
Source of Publication: Presented at the first International Graduate Legal Research Conference
Field of Research (FOR): 180118 Labour Law
HERDC Category Description: E2 Non-Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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