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Industrial Relations

Industrial relations (also known as employment relations) concerns the relationship between an employer and employee in ‘industry’. Industry in this sense means the workplace in general. The relationship between an employer and employee is seen as the basis of employment law. Relationships between an employer and employee often define an employee’s experience in the workplace and the success of the employer. However, it’s important to note that employers and employees have fundamentally different interests, the employee in earning a wage and the employer in making a profit. Subsequently, the relationship between an employer and employee is delicate.

Issues can arise for a myriad of reasons, some of which include:

  • Wage disputes
  • Unfair dismissal
  • Bullying or harassment in the workplace
  • Discrimination
  • Employment contract disputes

Employment Law

Industrial relations is also intertwined with employment law. By definition, industrial relations refers to the relationship that exists between an employer and employee. This relationship is often seen as a balance of power between the rights and interests of an employer and those of an employee. Legislation (both State and Federal) aims to protect the rights of both parties.


Legislation governing industrial relations is found in both the State and Federal jurisdictions. The majority of employment disputes fall under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and under the domain of the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

What Is An Industrial Relations Lawyer?

Industrial relations lawyers (or employment lawyers) represent and advise employees and organisations from the corporate and public sector on employment law issues and workplace disputes. These lawyers are experts in industrial relations and labour law.

Industrial relations is an area of law which is subject to frequent change, and tends to shift with the political climate. An example of this is the overhaul of industrial relations in 2009 with the introduction of the Fair Work Act. Regardless, industrial relations is a complex field which requires expert knowledge and processes to be followed.

Industrial relations lawyers can help you navigate these complex issues and provide information and assistance with the following:

  • Drafting and implementing contracts or collective agreements.
  • Redundancy.
  • Termination of employment.
  • Unfair contracts.
  • Workplace policies.
  • Taking action where there has been a breach of an employment contract.
  • Applications for unfair dismissal.
  • Brainstorming effective strategies to prevent disputes and industrial action.

Industrial relations lawyers will ensure each outcome is maximised and that the outcome of the dispute will benefit their client.

Why Do I Need An Industrial Relations Lawyer?

Disputes in the workplace are difficult and unpleasant for both employees and employers. There are a variety of factors that must be considered, such as confidentiality and professional reputation. These matters need to be handled with absolute discretion. Rather than leaving issues to persist and potentially become worse, consulting a highly experienced industrial relations lawyer will give you access to quality services and effective solutions that will resolve the issue. It’s important to be aware that there are also strict time frames and requirements that must be complied with, which industrial relations lawyers will inform you of.

If you require the services of an industrial relations lawyer, you can submit a quote through LawPath. You can then compare fixed-price quick quotes from our expert employment lawyers, as well their experience, expertise and price before you hire the right one for the job.

What will an Industrial Relations Lawyer provide?

Industrial relations lawyers will provide effective solutions that are specifically catered to your situation. While keeping your best interests in mind, specialist lawyers will instruct and guide you on what next steps you should take regardless of whether you are an employer or employee.

How Much Will an Industrial Relations Lawyer Charge?

Usually, Industrial Relations lawyers, and lawyers in general, charge either a fixed amount or an hourly rate. Also, fees are calculated based on the solicitor’s expertise, experience, location, nature and complexity of the work involved, and whether the work is urgent.

Hourly rates and Court fees

The cost of a Industrial Relations Lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small issues likely to be addressed quickly will cost less. For matters that will need to go to the Fair Work Commission, there may be additional fees involved, particularly as this work takes time.

What can a Industrial Relations Lawyer legally charge?

Costs can rise very quickly, especially in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in New South Wales and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014.

Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.

What if I don’t agree with the costs?

You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged.

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