The evolution of labour law in Australia: Measuring the change

Tags: Australian labour law, labour law, Australia, Fair Work Act 2009, variables, legal origins, Work Choices, contract of employment, Workplace Relations Act 1996, Deakin, UK, legal origin, Work Choices legislation, unfair dismissal, Fair Work, Australian Industrial Relations Commission, R Mitchell, master and servant, regulatory systems, Lele, Cth, regulation, legal origins theory, La Porta, Corporate Law Studies, Richard Mitchell, Monash University, Australian Federal Arbitration, legal models, Law School, Rudd Governments Fair Work, Australian, Rafael La Porta, Andrew Stewart, Corporate Law Research Group, Compulsory Arbitration, British labour law, legal rules, labour regulation, labour laws, Workplace Relations, S Deakin, Britain, labour market, Siems, market regulation, Botero
Content: The Evolution of Labour Law in Australia: Measuring the Change Richard Mitchell, * Peter Gahan, Andrew Stewart, Sean Cooney** and Shelley Marshall* This article presents results from a recent leximetric study as to how the `protective strength' of Australian labour law has changed over the past forty years, in comparison to five other countries. The study is part of an international project that is testing certain theories concerning the effect of a country's `legal origins' on its regulatory systems. Contrary to what many might expect, our results suggest that Australian labour law has been relatively stable over the period, and that the most significant changes occurred under the Keating Government in 1993, rather than under the more recent Work Choices or Fair Work reforms. The results also provide weak support at best for any argument that the `regulatory style' of Australian labour law is dictated by the country's common law heritage. Citation: Mitchell et al (2010) 23 Australian Journal of Labour Law pp. 1-31 * Workplace and Corporate Law Research Group, Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash University. Australian Centre for Research on Employment and Work, Department of Management, Monash University. Law School, University of Adelaide. ** Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law, Law School, University of Melbourne. 1
Australian labour law is going through arguably the most turbulent period in its history. The last two decades have seen a series of major amendments to federal industrial legislation, under both Labor and Coalition governments. The pace of change has been especially rapid in the past five years, first through the Howard Governments ,,Work Choices reforms, and then under a Labor government elected with a mandate to restore ,,balance to workplace laws.1 In the process, the Industrial Relations Act 1988 has become the Workplace Relations Act 1996, and then in turn been replaced by the Fair Work Act 2009; the Australian Industrial Relations Commission has been transformed into Fair Work Australia; institutions such as the Workplace Authority and the Fair Pay Commission have come and gone; and there has been a radical redrawing of the boundaries between federal and State responsibility for labour regulation. And the change is not yet at an end. The transitional arrangements for moving from the instruments and standards created under the Workplace Relations Act to the new Fair Work regime have only just commenced and still have many years to run.2 Furthermore, the separate process of harmonising federal, State and Territory laws on Occupational Health and safety is far from complete.3 For practitioners caught up in this process of change, it would seem undeniable that the Work Choices and Fair Work reforms in particular have had a radical effect on the legal rules, processes and institutions used to regulate employment conditions and industrial relations. Yet if we look past all the many changes in form and detail, and focus on the general objectives, characteristics and impact of Australias labour laws, a different picture may emerge. This article presents some of the results of a study of the evolution of Australian labour law over the past 40 years. It looks in particular at the ,,protective strength of labour law in safeguarding the interests of employees and how that has altered over the period from 1970 to 2010. It compares Australia in that regard with the evolution of labour laws in five other countries: France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. The study uses a numerical, or ,,leximetric, approach, which allows for a quantitative measurement of law, legal evolution and comparative legal studies.4 The leximetric approach has been particularly influential in recent debates in the Law and Economics literature, where it has 1 For an overview of the most recent changes, see A Forsyth and A Stewart (eds), Fair Work: The New Workplace Laws and the Work Choices Legacy, Federation Press, Sydney, 2009. 2 For example, in relation to the replacement of old federal and State awards with the ,,modern awards for which Part 2-3 of the Fair Work Act 2009 provides, see Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009 Schs 5­6A; Award Modernisation [2009] AIRCFB 800 (2 September 2009). 3 See Australian, State, Territory and New Zealand Workplace Relations Ministers Council, ,,WRMC 83 Communiquй, 25 September 2009. 4 See eg P Lele and M Siems, ,,Shareholder Protection: A Leximetric Approach (2007) 7 Journal of Corporate Law Studies 17; M Siems ,,Shareholder Protection Around the World ("Leximetric II") (2008) 33 Delaware Journal of Corporate Law 111. 2
been used to explore the development of legal rules and the effects of different ,,styles of regulation on a range of economic outcomes.5 In carrying out this work we have drawn from a 2007 study by Deakin, Lele and Siems,6 and in particular we have adopted the coding framework used by those authors in their Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index, which formed the basis for the data set used in the coding and comparison of labour law developments across a number of countries.7 Although we have some reservations about this coding framework, it represents the most convincing alternative to the influential but (as we will argue) flawed leximetric approach developed by La Porta et al. Using it has allowed us not just to learn certain things about the Australian labour law regulatory style, but to test the relevance of the coding method to Australia and thus the usefulness and accuracy of the method more generally. It has also fed into a wider project, involving the collection of data on a broad number of countries around the world, which will allow for a wider international comparison. As a greater number of countries are coded, more significant comparisons and conclusions can be drawn. This article draws on a more broad-ranging report on our findings.8 The purpose of that report was threefold. First, we were aiming to demonstrate a useful method for examining the evolution of Australian labour law in a systematic manner that employs objective criteria against which legal changes can be measured. Second, we were using the data to test whether the protective strength of Australian labour law has, over time, converged with that of other countries. Third, we were assessing the extent to which the Australian case conforms to the predictions of certain theories concerning the effect of a countrys ,,legal origins on its regulatory systems. Although we summarise here some of the main conclusions reached in the broader study, our primary purpose is to highlight our findings as to the nature and extent of changes to Australian law. Those findings may come as a surprise to many, as they suggest that the most significant developments in the past 40 years occurred not in 1996, 2005 or 2009, but with the Keating Governments reforms in 1993. Although the protective strength of Australian labour law certainly diminished as a result of the Howard Governments amendments, our analysis portrays the effect of those changes as relatively minor in historical terms. With the ,,correction subsequently administered by the Rudd Governments Fair Work legislation, Australia has now settled back to a level that, from the longer term perspective our study allows, can be seen as fairly consistent for the bulk of the period surveyed. 5 For a review of the literature, see R La Porta, F Lopez-de-Silanes and A Shleifer, ,,The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins (2008) 46 Journal of Economic Literature 285. 6 S Deakin, P Lele and M Siems, ,,The Evolution of Labour Law: Calibrating and Comparing Regulatory Regimes (2007) 146 International Labour Review 133. 7 Full details of their project and the data sets are available for downloading at http://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/research/programme2/project2-20.htm (last accessed 23 October 2009). 8 S Cooney, P Gahan, S Marshall, R Mitchell and A Stewart, Legal Origins and the Evolution of Australian Labour Law, 1970­2010, 2009, available at (last accessed 23 October 2009). 3
Before outlining the analysis that has led us to this conclusion, however, it is necessary to explain the background to the research project, starting with the ,,legal origins debate. Legal Origins Theory In their 2007 article Deakin, Lele and Siems traced the emergence of legal origins theory back to the quantitative work of Rafael La Porta and his colleagues on corporate law in the mid-to-late 1990s.9 According to those authors, national ,,regulatory styles in economic ordering are principally influenced by the ,,legal origins of a particular country.10 The theory suggests that different legal systems use contrasting styles in dealing with market failures and, accordingly, that a countrys legal origins influences the long run performance of its national economy. For the purposes of the legal origins hypothesis, there are at least four important legal families, long described by Comparative Lawyers.11 These are: common law systems, originating in England; civil law systems, derived from France; civil law systems derived from Germany; and socialist legal systems.12 In much of the empirical work and secondary literature, this categorisation is simplified into two groupings, those of civil law, and those of common law legal origins. Almost all countries outside Europe have legal systems that are ,,transplants: that is, they are, by reason of conquest or adoption, based on European models. For legal origins theory, a legal tradition represents an informational technology designed to solve social problems. While adopters may change and adapt a legal tradition to suit local circumstances and cultural values, the underlying style of regulation associated with the originating country persists over time. Thus, legal transplantation represents a ,,kind of involuntary information transmission,13 which tends to ,,lock-in a style of regulation, a certain ,,path dependency, and a degree of ,,complementarity between legal and economic institutions, thereby ensuring that the different ,,types of systems remain distinct.14 The legal families categorisation has been deployed by legal origins scholars to explain key differences in a broad range of legal and economic institutions between countries.15 These studies purport to show that common law countries are more ,,liberal in their regulation, 9 See eg R La Porta, F Lopez-de-Silanes, A Shleifer, and R Vishny, ,,Legal Determinants of External Finance (1997) 52 Journal of Finance 1131; R La Porta, F Lopez-de-Silanes, A Shleifer and R Vishny, ,,Law and Finance (1998) 106 Journal of Political Economy 1113; R La Porta, F Lopez-de-Silanes and A Shleifer ,,Corporate Ownership Around the World (1999) 54 Journal of Finance 471. 10 See generally E Glaeser and A Shleifer, ,,Legal Origins (2002) 117 Quarterly Journal of Economics 1193; La Porta et al, ,,The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins, above n #. 11 See eg K Zweigert and H Kцtz, Introduction to Comparative Law, 3rd ed tr T Weir, OUP, Oxford, 1998. 12 But note that in the more recent work by La Porta and his colleagues, this last category is effectively omitted: see La Porta et al, ,,The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins, above n #, at 288. 13 Ibid. 14 See Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #, at 134­5. 15 See eg Glaeser and Shleifer, above n #; S Djankov, E Glaeser, R La Porta, F Lopez-de-Silanes and A Shleifer, ,,The New Comparative Economics (2003) 31 Journal of Comparative Economics 595; La Porta, et al, ,,The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins, above n #. 4
relying more on markets and arms length rather than relational contracts, whilst civil law countries are more extensively and more restrictively regulated by state intervention.16 Importantly for policy purposes, the work of La Porta et al led them to certain conclusions about the relative merits of the ,,common law and ,,civil law styles of regulation. They concluded that, on the one hand, countries with a common law legal system produced rules and regulations that provided better protection of property rights and contract enforcement, and were thus relatively more responsive to market conditions. On the other hand, civil law countries were associated with more interventionist forms of regulation which tended to impact adversely on the business enterprise and markets, thus leading to higher unemployment, lower productivity and lower economic growth.17 In short, countries of common law origin, across a range of factors, were more likely to produce efficient rules for establishing and regulating markets than countries of civil law origin. This argument also found its way into the World Banks policy recommendations for economic reforms in developing and transition countries.18 Not surprisingly, legal origins theory ­ and what it implies for international and national government policy ­ has been extremely controversial, and has given rise over the past decade to a vigorous and extensive debate about the veracity of its hypotheses and the validity of its methodologies across several legal fields.19 Legal Origins and Labour Law As noted earlier, most of the work on which legal origins theory was founded was in relation to corporate law, finance, shareholder rights and creditor protection. Attention was only directed to labour law by the original group of researchers in 2004.20 In a study of the labour market laws of 85 countries, Juan Botero and a group including Rafael La Porta examined 65 variables under three broad categories: (i) employment laws; (ii) collective relations laws; and (iii) social security laws. In assessing the importance of legal origins in explaining crossnational differences in regulatory style, the study also tested for ,,political and ,,efficiency 16 See La Porta et al, ,,Corporate Ownership Around the World, above n #. 17 Ibid. 18 This has been the subject of debate in its own right: see J Berg and S Cazes, ,,Policymaking Gone Awry: The Labour Market Regulations of the Doing Business Indicators (2008) 29 Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal 349; S Voigt, ,,Are International Merchants Stupid? Their Choice of Law Sheds Doubt on the Legal Origins Theory (2008) 5 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 1. 19 See particularly A Musacchio, ,,Do Legal Origins Have Persistent Effects Over Time? A Look at Law and Finance Around the World, Working Paper No 08-030, Harvard Business School, Harvard University, 2008; M Amin and P Ranjan, ,,When Does Legal Origin Matter?, Working Paper No 080912, Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine, 2008; D Klerman and P Mahoney, ,,Legal Origins? (2007) 35 Journal of Comparative Economics 278; J Armour, S Deakin, P Lele and M Siems, ,,How Do Legal Rules Evolve? Evidence from a Cross-Country Comparison, Working Paper No 382, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, 2009; M Roe, ,,Legal Origins, Politics, and Modern Stock Markets (2006) 120 Harvard Law Review 462; D Acemoglu, S Johnson and J Robinson, ,,The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation (2001) 91 American Economic Review 1369. 20 J Botero, S Djankov, R La Porta, F Lopez-de-Silanes and A Shleifer, ,,The Regulation of Labor (2004) 119 Quarterly Journal of Economics 1339. 5
explanations. Botero et al concluded that of the three possible explanations for a particular national style in the regulation of labour, legal origins outranked both ,,politics and ,,efficiency. Although there were some differences in the strength of this conclusion between the three sets of regulations examined, according to the authors there was little room for doubt: ,,In short, legal traditions are a strikingly important determinant of various aspects of statutory worker protection.21 The results were said to be ,,consistent with the view that legal origins shape regulatory styles, and that such dependence has adverse consequences for at least some measures of efficiency.22 Since the publication of the Botero et al article there have been several further pieces of work published on the general issue of labour law and legal origins,23 and others which deal with labour law and legal origins as part of more general discussions, including corporate governance and economic regulation.24 We do not intend to survey this work here, given our more limited focus. It is necessary to note, however, that much of this published work contains or responds to methodological and other criticisms of legal origins theory in general, and in the context of labour law in particular. We will briefly return to that issue later in the article, in discussing methodological issues. In its most simplified form, legal origins theory identifies two fundamental original legal styles (common law and civil law) and the spread of these legal and institutional traditions across most of the world. Through the process of colonisation, most countries have received their legal systems ,,exogenously, rather than their being self-developed.25 Australia is, of course, a separate country, but one settled through British colonisation. Assuming a legal origins effect to have force, it would follow that Australian labour law would resemble the regulatory ,,style of other common law originating countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, a number of Asian countries including India, and so on. It would also follow that there would be a certain ,,path dependency in the evolution of 21 Ibid, at 1365. 22 Ibid, at 1378. The study also compared common law and civil law styles for economic efficiency outcomes, and found the common law style superior. Although this is an important aspect of the debate over ,,legal origins, we do not address that point in this article. 23 See eg D Pozen, ,,The Regulation of Labor and the Relevance of Legal Origin (2007) 27 Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal 43; S Djankov and R Ramalho ,,Employment Laws in developing countries (2009) 37 Journal of Comparative Economics 3; S Deakin and P Sarkar, ,,Assessing the Long-Run Economic Impact of Labour Law Systems: A Theoretical Reappraisal and Analysis of New Time Series Data (2008) 39 Industrial Relations Journal 453. 24 See eg B Ahlering and S Deakin, ,,Labour Regulation, Corporate Governance, and Legal Origin: A Case of Institutional Complementarity? (2007) 4 Law and Society Review 865; Armour et al, above n #; S Deakin, ,,Legal Origin, Juridical Form and Industrialisation in Historical Perspective: The Case of the Employment Contract and the Joint Stock Company (2009) 7 Socio-Economic Review 35; M Siems, ,,Shareholder, Creditor and Worker Protection: Time Series Evidence about the Differences between French, German, Indian, UK and US Law, Working Paper No 381, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, 2009. 25 Botero et al, above n #, at 1344­5. 6
Australian labour law fixed by certain ,,Ground rules26 and ,,institutions27 and that any development in the regulatory regime would be basically in accord with comparable systems. So far there has been virtually no explicit attention given to Australian labour law in this debate. However, one or two pieces have raised questions about the applicability of these types of arguments in relation to Australian regulatory ,,style generally.28 There have also been analyses which question the categorisation of Australian labour law, at least historically, within the ,,common law family of countries.29 These are touched upon in the following section, which looks in more detail at some of the arguments surrounding legal origins theory. Accounting for Legal Origins Effects In their 2007 paper, Deakin, Lele and Siems discuss the theoretical framework which has been advanced for why and how a countrys legal origins produces differing outcomes in terms of its regulatory style. The authors note two important arguments. One is based on the view that because the common law is essentially a product of judicial decision making, it is inherently more able to adapt incrementally to fit changing economic circumstances and requirements than the more ,,rigid civil law system which requires legislative change (the ,,adaptability channel). The second explanation (the ,,political channel) argues that the judicial independence which characterises the common law system, makes that system less susceptible to regulatory capture through legislation, and more protective of individual property rights against state power than civil law systems.30 Essentially these are arguments which assume that any legal origins effect occurs as a consequence of instrumental response to efficiency demands. The arguments are, however, 26 This term is taken from K Pistor, ,,Legal Ground Rules in Coordinated and Liberal Market Economies in K Hopt, E Wymeersch, H Kanda and H Baum (eds), Corporate Governance in Context: Corporations, States and Markets in Europe, Japan and the United States, OUP, Oxford, 2006. 27 By ,,institutions, we mean ,,a set of rules, formal or informal that actors generally follow ... and organisations as durable entities with formally recognised members, whose rules also contribute to the institutions of the political economy: see P Hall and D Soskice, ,,An Introduction to Varieties of Capitalism in P Hall and D Soskice (eds), Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage, OUP, Oxford, 2001, p 1 at p 9. 28 See eg A Dignam and M Galanis, ,,Australia Inside Out: The Corporate Governance System of the Australian Listed Market (2004) 28 Melbourne University Law Review 623. 29 See M Jones and R Mitchell, ,,Legal Origin, Legal Families and the Regulation of Labour in Australia in S Marshall, R Mitchell and I Ramsay (eds), Varieties of Capitalism, Corporate Governance and Employees, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne 2008, p 60; S Marshall, R Mitchell and A ODonnell, ,,Corporate Governance and Labour Law: Situating Australias Regulatory Style (2009) 47 Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources 150. 30 Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #, at 136ff. The authorities cited in support include T Beck, A DemigurcKunt and R Levine, ,,Law and Firms Access to Finance, Working Paper No 10687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, 2004; T Beck, A Demigurc-Kunt and R Levine, ,,Law and Finance: Why Does Legal Origin Matter? (2003) 31 Journal of Comparative Economics 653; T Beck, A Demigurc-Kunt and R Levine, ,,Law, Endowments and Finance (2003) 70 Journal of Financial Economics 137. These arguments are also addressed in Glaeser and Shleifer, above n #, and Djankov et al , above n #. 7
criticised by Deakin, Lele and Siems as overstating, or misstating, the role of legal origins in legal evolution, rather than negating it completely. The authors accept that there are ,,significant differences in regulatory style between the common law and civil law,31 and that these may ,,hamper the flow of ideas from one system to another and, conversely, ,,facilitate the exchange of legal models within the main legal families.32 To that extent at least, ,,a legal origin effect could be expected to arise from the division of systems into different legal families.33 The authors stress, however, that the strength of a legal origins effect ,,would differ from one context to another, that it cannot be assumed a priori, and that it is therefore a matter for empirical analysis.34 Important issues to be taken into account include the extent to which foreign legal rules may be adapted to local economic, cultural and political conditions (endogenisation), the strength of ,,opposing tendencies for the convergence of legal rules deriving from various harmonising and transnationalising influences, and particularly the timing and nature of legal innovations in relation to the process of industrialisation. Rather than a strong ,,functionalist legal origins effect, the force of legal origin depends on context: a ,,weak legal origins effect.35 Deakin, Lele and Siems illustrate the importance of the timing of industrialisation by reference to the evolution of British labour law. When the process of industrialisation commenced in Britain, the old forms of labour regulation based on master and servant laws and feudal obligations of service were still extant, whereas in Europe the codified private law of contract was already in place at the time of major scale industrialisation.36 In Britain the old forms of regulation persisted into the late nineteenth century, continuing the tradition of strong managerial prerogative through ownership, and employment as service, enforced through criminal sanctions. In regulating labour markets it was these ideas, in the form of different variants of master and servant legislation, that were passed on to the British colonies rather than the idea of the ,,efficiency of free contracting between the autonomous parties to industrial relationships.37 The contract of employment as it is now understood in the common law world did not emerge in Britain until the 1920s and 1930s.38 31 Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #, at 137. 32 Ibid (original emphasis). 33 Ibid. 34 Ibid, at 137­141. 35 Ibid. 36 See further S Deakin, ,,Timing is Everything: Industrialization, Legal Origin and the Evolution of the Contract of Employment in Britain and Continental Europe in B Bercusson and C Estlund (eds), Regulating Labour in the Wake of Globalisation: New Challenges, New Institutions, Hart, Oxford, 2008, p 67. 37 See D Hay and P Craven (eds), Masters, Servants and Magistrates in Britain and the Empire, 1562­1955, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2004. 38 S Deakin, ,,The Evolution of the Contract of Employment, 1900­1950 in N Whiteside and R Salais (eds), Governance, Industry and Labour Markets in Britain and France, Routledge, London, 1998, p 212. See further Deakin, ,,Legal Origin, Juridical Form and Industrialisation in Historical Perspective, above n #. 8
In the context of these arguments, Australian labour law offers some interesting perspectives that are both similar and contrasting. As was the case in Britain, Australian legislators also adopted master and servant forms of labour market regulation, limiting worker mobility and punishing misconduct with penal sanctions. Many of these types of provisions remained on the statute books well into the twentieth century.39 It has been argued that the continued relevance of master and servant concepts had a similar effect in forestalling the clear emergence of a form of labour market regulation based on the independent contract of employment, as it did in Britain.40 In this respect the evolution of Australian labour law fits with what legal origins theory would suggest should be the case: the carrying over of certain legal institutions as a result of historical influence.41 But importantly Australian labour law (along with that of New Zealand) also began to diverge around the turn of the twentieth century. Between 1890 and about 1915, governments in these countries introduced systems for the compulsory arbitration of industrial disputes as the main form of labour market regulation.42 This system was introduced principally to stabilise industrial relations at a crucial period of economic development in the colonies ­ the emergence of manufacturing industries and the need for protective tariffs to sustain them against foreign competition.43 To a substantial degree these arbitration models regulated wages and conditions out of market competition for much of the twentieth century, effectively prohibiting the hire of labour under free contract in exchange for industry protection. Whilst this system of labour law may have had some antecedents in various British, Canadian and European ideas,44 in essence it was a path-breaking legal innovation. Whilst it appears to have had some influence in countries such as India, Malaysia and Singapore, it was subsequently adopted in only one or two countries and diverged in fundamental respects from 39 See generally A Merritt, ,,The Historical Role of Law in the Regulation of Employment ­ Abstentionist or Interventionist? (1982) 1 Australian Journal of Law and Society 56; M Quinlan, ,,Pre-Arbitral Labour Legislation in Australia and its Implications for the Introduction of Compulsory Arbitration in S Macintyre and R Mitchell (eds), Foundations of Arbitration, OUP, Oxford, 1989, p 25; M Quinlan, ,,Australia, 1788­ 1902: A Workingmans Paradise? in D Hay and P Craven, above n #, p 219. 40 J Howe and R Mitchell, ,,The Evolution of the Contract of Employment in Australia: A Discussion (1999) 12 Australian Journal of Labour Law 113. 41 For other examples, see eg P Gahan, ,,Dead Letters? An Examination of Union Registration under Australian Colonial Trade Union Acts 1876­1900 (2000) 13 Australian Journal of Labour Law 50. 42 See Macintyre and Mitchell, above n #; J Holt, Compulsory Arbitration in New Zealand: The First Forty Years, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1986; J Holt, ,,The Political Origins of Compulsory Arbitration in New Zealand (1975) 9 New Zealand Journal of History 99; R Mitchell, ,,Solving the Great Social Problem of the Age: A Comparison of the Development of State Systems of Conciliation and Arbitration in Australia and Canada in G Kealey and G Patmore (eds), Canadian and Australian Labour History: Towards a Comparative Perspective, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Sydney, 1990, p 47. 43 For general reference on these issues, see the works cited in n # above. See also N Woods, Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration in New Zealand, Government Printer, Wellington, 1963, chs 1­2. 44 See eg R Mitchell, ,,State Systems of Conciliation and Arbitration: The Legal Origins of the Australasian Model in Macintyre and Mitchell, above n #, p 74; C Fisher, The English Origins of Australian Federal Arbitration: To 1824, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU, Canberra, 1986. 9
the systems of the other major common law jurisdictions.45 On its face, then, the emergence of the compulsory arbitration system seems to confront legal origins theory with a puzzle. Notwithstanding its common law inheritance, by about 1920 the Australian labour law system had few important legal or institutional antecedents adopted from its country of legal origin, apart from various private law principles which were incorporated into the developing contract of employment. In various respects its elements seem, in retrospect, to have placed it closer to the supposed character of the civil law system than to the common law system: greater government intervention through legislation, less reliance on freedom of contract, and more centralised state control over the economy, including pay and working conditions.46 No British-style Collective Bargaining system evolved, nor, after 1900, were the major legal underpinnings of that system copied. Yet that may not be a conclusive argument about legal origins and Australian compulsory arbitration. It has also been argued that despite the appearance of these forms of regulation,47 ultimately the ,,regulatory style inherent in Australian labour laws ,,ground rules is closer to the common law model, insofar as it largely protects ,,managerial prerogatives, eschews worker participation in management, and is comparatively less ,,universal in the application of labour standards.48 On the basis of this evidence, it remains an open question of whether, and if so to what extent, Australian labour law fits with legal origins theory: that is to say, whether the system is path-dependent, insofar as it adheres to certain fundamental ,,ground rules of the common law ,,regulatory style, or whether it is an illustrative case of what Deakin et al have identified as ,,historical contingency, or ,,context, determining exceptionalism. It is these issues that our research project is designed to explore. The Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index As we have already explained, our project has involved ,,coding Australian labour law over a forty year period, in accordance with a leximetric framework developed by Deakin, Lele and Siems. That framework was itself derived from the approach used by Botero and his 45 The early labour laws of Malaysia and Singapore, reshaped in the 1960s, did draw to a degree upon several concepts and institutions inherent in the Australian model: see S Deery and R Mitchell, ,,Introduction in S Deery and R Mitchell (eds), Labour Law and Industrial Relations in Asia, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1993, p 1. 46 See eg R Mitchell and P Scherer, ,,Australia: The Search for Fair Employment Contracts through Tribunals in J Hartog and J Theeuwes (eds), Labour Market Contracts and Institutions: A Cross-National Comparison, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1993, p 77; Jones and Mitchell, above n #. 47 For a valuable discussion of form and content in the comparison of British and Australian labour law, see K Ewing, ,,Australian and British Labour Law: Differences of Form or Substance? (1998) 11 Australian Journal of Labour Law 44. Some other authors have tended to treat Australian compulsory arbitration as a variant of a collective bargaining system: see eg H Clegg, Trade Unionism under Collective Bargaining, Blackwell, Oxford, 1976. 48 See Jones and Mitchell, above n #. 10
colleagues, but developed further by Deakin et al in their 2007 article. In this section we examine various problems associated with this methodology, and our own approach to it. It was noted earlier that Botero et al attempted to quantify labour market regulation in 85 countries by creating indices of the stringency of regulation relating to employment (such as dismissal), collective labour relations (such as union recognition and legal requirements to bargain in good faith), and social security (such as access to unemployment or sickness benefits). For each of these three broad areas, the authors examined formal statutory rules as they applied to a standardised male worker and a standardised employer.49 The coding method used in the study assigned a numerical value to each legal rule, with a lowest value of 0, indicating no protection, and the highest score of 1, indicating maximum protection, for employees. Several scholars have pointed to various difficulties with the coding method adopted in the Botero et al research.50 Among the important problems with the coding methodology identified by Deakin, Lele and Siems are the following: (i) particular mechanisms used to protect employees are diverse across systems, making relative weighting difficult; (ii) many mandatory rules are not applied in particular industries and regions (especially in developing countries); (iii) the use of binary variables makes it difficult to capture gradations in the effect of legal rules; (iv) the growing importance of default rules and other ,,reflexive norms; and (v) the importance of non-legal norms.51 However, the main problem identified by the authors with the Botero et al index is that it is specific to a particular point of time (in this case the late 1990s) and, consequently, that it cannot create a picture of a trend or propensity of the law to move over time. This makes aspects of the ,,legal origins argument, particularly in relation to the timing of legal innovations, and their relationship with economic developments, difficult to explore. Partly in response to these problems, Deakin, Lele and Siems adopted a somewhat different approach from that taken in the Botero et al study. The authors discarded some of the variables used in the Botero et al index,52 and adopted a ,,longitudinal index charting labour law regulation from 1970 to 2005, thus allowing for investigation of legal development over time rather than at a fixed historical point. In compiling their index the authors also accounted 49 See Botero et al, above n #, at 1353. A ,,standardised male worker is assumed to be a non-managerial employee who has been working in the same firm for twenty years, has two children, a wife who is not in paid employment, lives in the countrys most populous city, is a law abiding citizen and is of the same ethnicity and religion as the majority of his countrys population, and is not a member of a union. A ,,standardised employer is one in the manufacturing sector, based in the countrys most populous city, is a wholly owned domestic firm, employs 250 workers, and provides employees with no more than their legal entitlements. 50 See eg Pozen, above n #, Berg and Cazes, above n #; Ahlering and Deakin, above n #; Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #. 51 Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #, at 141­2. 52 The index of labour market regulation developed by Botero et al includes measures of social security. Neither these measures, nor any equivalent measures of social security provisions, are included in the index constructed by Deakin, Lele and Siems. 11
for the role of self-regulating mechanisms (such as collective agreements), and the extent to which laws were mandatory or capable of modification by the parties (default rules). Unlike the Botero et al study, Deakin, Lele and Siems also cited specific sources for each of their variables.53 The Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index models the influence of labour law on the economic relations within an enterprise ­ that is to say, the extent to which the law protects employees against employers, redistributes resources from employers (or shareholders) to employees, and at the same time redresses imperfections which reduce economic efficiency.54 In taking this approach, Deakin, Lele and Siems have sought to address the central concern of traditional labour law scholarship (how best to redress the imbalance of power between employees and employers), while also considering the extent to which the strength of labour law may contribute to the efficient functioning of the enterprise. This contrasts with the Botero et al approach, which is primarily concerned with the extent to which labour laws inhibit the functioning of a competitive labour market and influence the costs of employing labour. The Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index covers five areas of labour law, which are as follows: (i) the regulation of forms of labour contracting other than the standard employment relationship; (ii) the regulation of working time; (iii) the regulation of dismissals; (iv) the regulation of employee representation and participation at the workplace; and (v) the regulation of industrial action. These are divided into various sub-categories, making a total of 40 variables in all. The variables and descriptors for coding are set out in the Appendix attached to this article.55 In summary, however, each variable is assigned a value in the range of 0 (no protection) to 1 (strong protection), indicating the relative strength of the protection the law affords to employees. Each of the five sub-indices is calculated as the sum of the score given to each of the individual variables that make up each sub-index. There is also an aggregate index that represents the sum of all variables. Although we have reservations with some aspects of the variables and scoring method selected by Deakin, Lele and Siems, we have largely adopted their approach for the purposes of the present research. There will be scope for a fuller treatment of various methodological issues as our project progresses. There is one difficulty, however, that needs to be highlighted. The Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index contains three items measuring the 53 See Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #, at 44 and fn 9 on that page. 54 Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #, at 143. It is worth noting here that the differences between the two indices also extends to the question of the theoretical purpose of coding labour law. For Botero et al, the primary concern is to develop a measure to capture the extent to which labour laws inhibit the functioning of a competitive labour market and influence the costs of employing labour. In contrast, Deakin, Lele and Siems highlight the traditional labour law conception of the primary purpose of labour law as protecting employees. 55 Complete details of the Australian data, including variable descriptions, sources and values assigned to each variable, can be found at [*to be added]. In constructing the index for Australia, we added two additional variables to account for the distinction in Australian labour law between part-time and casual employees. This had no impact on the final measures and so a 40 variable index is reported here. 12
extent to which a countrys constitution protects the right to form a trade union, the right to engage in collective bargaining or make collective agreements, and the right to take industrial action. The Index codes for ,,constitutional equivalents of these rights where there is no written constitution. Thus for the United Kingdom, despite the absence of any constitutional right to form a union or engage in collective bargaining, these variables are given a moderate score for some years. However, because the United States has a written constitution, the legal equivalents to these rights (in the form of legislation) are completely discounted. For these variables then, the UK is given a higher score, despite the fact that the regulation in both countries is equally amenable to statutory amendment. In Australia, the absence of a constitutional right to form a union or to engage in collective bargaining has undoubtedly been counterbalanced by the traditional strength of the arbitration system. Nonetheless, for the sake of direct comparison we have adhered to the coding framework used by Deakin, Lele and Siems, and scored Australia on the same basis as those authors scored the US law. This is despite the fact that, in our opinion, this radically understates the strength of Australian law in protecting trade unions and collective bargaining. The Evolution of Australian Labour Law from 1970 to 2010 Our purpose in this section of the article is to report on our findings concerning the evolution of Australian labour law over the past four decades, using the five sets of variables noted above. This in turn enables a comparative analysis with the results recorded in the Deakin, Lele and Siems study for the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Germany and France. While the data from that study span the period from 1970 to 2005, we chose to extend our analysis of Australian labour law out to 2010, so as to take full account of the changes made by the Work Choices and Fair Work reforms. Alternative Employment Contracts The first sub-index included in the Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index measures the extent to which the law imposes differential costs or restrictions on employers utilising alternatives to the standard employment contract. Figure 1 indicates a highly stable, but only moderate protection for the standard employment contract over the four decades since 1970. This reflects a fair degree of freedom for the parties to decide on the legal form of their own relationship, and a degree of balance between a strong protection through the award system and other laws for part-time workers, and at the same time a somewhat mixed regulatory approach to casual and fixed-term contracts, and agency workers. To give one example, casual workers generally have been entitled to close to equal treatment with full time workers in many respects, but this has been balanced out by the fact that they have been relatively less protected against unfair dismissal or redundancy.56 An examination of the detailed Australian 56 See B Creighton and A Stewart, Labour Law, 4th ed, Federation Press, Sydney, 2005, pp 293­8. 13
index on the project website57 indicates many similar disparities in levels of protection within the five core variables used.
Figure 1. Alternative Employment Contracts (8 variables)
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Some small improvement for non-standard workers is seen in a very slight upward movement in the indicator corresponding with the introduction in 1993 of federal unfair dismissal laws. But following this we see a slight downward trend with the introduction of the Howard Governments Workplace Relations Act 1996, and again with its Work Choices legislation in 2005. These latter changes reflect a limiting of award regulation in respect of non-standard employment in particular.58 A further slight upward movement is detected as a result of the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009, which among other things has relaxed previous restrictions on the capacity of unions to negotiate ,,site rates for labour hire workers, and improved access to unfair dismissal claims for employees on fixed-term contracts.59 As noted, however, these changes are very slight, and overwhelmingly the most notable feature of the trend in regulation in this variable is its stability over the period in question.
57 See above n #. 58 For example, s 89A(4) of the ,,pre-reform (ie, pre-Work Choices) version of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) prohibited federal awards from regulating the number or proportion of employees that an employer might engage in a particular type of employment. This was maintained after the Work Choices amendments, which also introduced a bar on provisions dealing with conversion from casual to permanent employment, of the type introduced in Re Metal, Engineering and Associated Industries Award, 1998 ­ Part I (2000) 110 IR 247: Workplace Relations Act 1996 s 515(1)(b)­(d). 59 See A Stewart, Stewart's Guide to Employment Law, 2nd ed, Federation Press, Sydney, 2009, pp 65, 302. 14
The Regulation of Working Time
Figure 2 also displays a highly stable and moderate level of protective regulation in relation to working time. Again, this reflects a balancing effect of some reasonably strong protections (both in terms of substance and effective coverage of the regulation) for matters such as annual leave entitlements, public holidays and overtime premiums, and a relatively low level of regulation associated with the volume of hours worked.
Figure 2. The Regulation of Working Time (7 variables)
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The indicator does show a very slight upward trend in the early 1980s, plateauing out thereafter. This is largely explained by the more or less uniform reduction in working hours from 40 to 38 introduced by award at that time.60 Since the early 1990s, workplace agreements have been used to create greater flexibility for many employers both in scheduling working time, and in how employees are compensated for working ,,non-standard hours. Nevertheless, it is our assessment that the protective strength of Australian labour law in relation to working time standards has not varied greatly over that period. The obvious exception was under the original Work Choices regime, which from March 2006 abolished the ,,no-disadvantage test for workplace agreements and hence allowed employers to negotiate the removal of overtime or other penalty rates without compensation. But while there was some evidence of that starting to happen during the first year after the Work Choices amendments took effect, this did not appear to affect a substantial proportion of the workforce ­ though it might have done, given time.61 The introduction of a ,,fairness test for agreements in May 2007, and subsequently the reintroduction of the no-disadvantage test,
60 See Re Metal Industry Award 1971 (1981) 1 IR 169; Re National Building Trades Construction Award 1975 (1982) 24 AILR ¶128. 61 See eg D Peetz, Assessing the Impact of `Work Choices' ­ One Year On, Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, Victoria, 2007; J Evesson et al, Lowering the Standards: From Awards to Work Choices in Retail and Hospitality Collective Agreements: Synthesis Report, Workplace Research Centre, Sydney, 2007. 15
have in any event restored the pre-Work Choices position.62 As for another Work Choices initiative, the prohibition on employers requiring or requesting employees to work more than a ,,reasonable number of hours (on top of up to 38 ,,ordinary hours per week),63 the vagueness of this standard limits its potential effectiveness in controlling long working hours.64 The Regulation of Dismissal Figure 3 indicates a greater degree of variation over the period in the regulation of dismissal. The less than moderate protection extended to employees in dismissal cases prior to the 1990s reflects both the weakness of the award system in relation to this issue, and the very uneven development of specific unfair dismissal legislation in the various Australian States. The evident incline in the level of protection in the mid-1980s is attributable to the improved award position arising from the Termination, Change and Redundancy Case.65 There is a further appreciable upward trend in the regulation of dismissal in 1993, due to the Labor governments legislation of that year which effected a more uniform scheme of procedural and substantive safeguards.66 However, as the figure shows, this raised the level of protection against dismissal only to a moderate position as measured by the index. This reflects the relatively low standards required to be met in relation to such matters as mandated notice periods, formal notification of dismissal and selection for redundancy. 62 Workplace Relations Amendment (A Stronger Safety Net) Act 2007 (Cth); Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Act 2008 (Cth); and see generally C Sutherland, "Making the ,,BOOT Fit: Reforms to Agreement-Making from Work Choices to Fair Work" in Forsyth and Stewart, above n #, p 99. 63 Workplace Relations Act 1996 Pt 7 Div 3; and see now Fair Work Act 2009 Pt 2-2 Div 3. 64 In what appears to have been the only test case on these provisions to date, an attempt to challenge the introduction of a 44-hour weekly roster in the Mining industry was unsuccessful: see MacPherson v Coal & Allied Mining Services Pty Ltd (No 2) [2009] FMCA 881 (9 September 2009). 65 (1984) 8 IR 34; 9 IR 115. 66 See generally A Stewart, ,,And (Industrial) Justice for All? Protecting Workers Against Unfair Dismissal (1995) 1 Flinders Journal of Law Reform 85. 16
Figure 3. The Regulation of Dismissal (7 variables)
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The offsetting downward trend in the level of dismissal protection corresponds with the Howard Governments first wave of reforms in 1996, which effectively reduced the legal requirements for substantive and procedural legitimacy in dismissal cases.67 Since then, according to our data the trend has been relatively stable, but at a less than moderate level of protection. Of course, there have been very significant changes in specific aspects of unfair dismissal law since 1996 ­ most prominently, the extensive exclusions operating during the currency of the Work Choices legislation, which included a general exemption for employers with 100 or fewer employees.68 However, as these exclusions affected only one of the seven variables, their aggregate effect is not pronounced. Indeed as the Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index is constructed, the removal of those exclusions under the Fair Work Act 2009 is counterbalanced by the retention of a qualifying period of employment before a worker can complain of unfair dismissal.69 This illustrates an endemic characteristic of an index number that assumes that constituent variables have even effect. We will investigate the possible distortions to which this gives rise in subsequent work.
Employee Representation Figure 4 reports on the sub-index dealing with the protection of employee representation rights. These indicia cover core elements of collective labour regulation, including both union recognition and bargaining rights, among other sub-variables. The indicator in the figure 67 See A Chapman, ,,Termination of Employment Under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) (1997) 10 Australian Journal of Labour Law 89. 68 Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth) ss 638, 643. 69 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 382­384. See A Chapman, ,,The Decline and Restoration of Unfair Dismissal Rights in Forsyth and Stewart, above n #, p 207. 17
shows a stable, but less than moderate level of protection in this variable between 1970 and the mid-1980s, and a slight incline in the level of protection from around 1985 as unions obtained greater ,,voice in decision-making following the Termination, Change and Redundancy Case in 1984.70 A roughly corresponding decline in protection is evident in the early 1990s as the general regulatory trend against the closed shop began to take effect. The figure then discloses a precipitous decline in the level of protection for employee representation due to the introduction of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, which introduced General Laws freedom of (non-)association, removed or curtailed other important union rights, and excluded some employee representation rights from awards. This is followed by a further weakening of protections for employee representation under the Work Choices legislation, which imposed yet further restrictions on trade union organisational rights.
Figure 4. Employee Representation (7 variables)
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As the indicator shows, these sets of provisions had the effect of reducing the level of protection in this variable to an extremely low level (i.e. to less than 0.5 on a scale of 0­7). Since 2007, the figure shows a sharp incline in the level of protection for employee representation with the election of a Labor government and the introduction of legislation that has provided some renewed organisational rights to unions, although it has not restored those rights to pre-1996 levels.71 Whilst these are notable outcomes of the project, they are influenced considerably by the particular coding method we have adopted. As noted, there are reasons to suggest that the results may not, speaking comparatively, accurately reflect the strength of Australian labour law. For example, were we to take a somewhat different approach to Deakin, Lele and Siems
70 (1984) 8 IR 34; 9 IR 115. 71 See generally C Fenwick and J Howe, ,,Union Security After Work Choices in Forsyth and Stewart, above n #, p 164. 18
in respect of the recognition of ,,functional equivalents to constitutional provisions,72 Australia historically (and thus from the commencement of the period under review here) would have measured far higher on the 0­7 scale applicable for this variable. On that basis, the severe declines noted in the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s would have started from a much higher base. It follows either that the level of protection in this variable might not have been recorded as having declined to the very low base indicated in the period 2006­2008 (where it reached a point more or less commensurate with US labour law in this area), or the severity of the decline would have been much greater than indicated in the figure.
Industrial Action
Figure 5, dealing with industrial action, shows a stable but very low level of protection in Australian labour law until 1993, which accords with the fact that virtually all strikes and lockouts in Australia historically were unlawful in one way or another. The sharp incline in the level of protection for industrial action shown in the figure reflects the impact of the Labor governments 1993 amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1988 (Cth), which extended certain rights and protections to unions, employers and employees undertaking industrial action for bargaining purposes.73 Figure 5. Industrial Action (9 variables)
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The Howard Governments Workplace Relations Act 1996 maintained a general ,,right to industrial action, but imposed certain limitations which are reflected in the slight drop in the level of protection shown in the figure at this time. Thereafter, the trend has been fairly steady, although with a slight further downturn corresponding with the Work Choices 72 See above, text following n #. 73 Industrial Relations Act 1988 (Cth) Pt VIB Div 4. Again, we note that this score would be higher if we had adopted a different approach from Deakin, Lele and Siems on the ,,constitutional equivalent issue. 19
legislation from 2006 ­ a downturn which has not been reversed under the Fair Work reforms.74 As indicated, the level of protection is less than moderate on the 0­7 scale used for this variable. The Aggregate Index Among Australian labour lawyers it would be relatively uncontroversial to suggest that the recent period of Australian labour law history has been one of unprecedented change in the lengthy duration of the Australian system. It would also be safe to say that most commentators would mark the period since the early 1990s as one of exceptional and systemic reform, designed, more or less, to alter the character of the Australian labour law model. In particular, the Work Choices legislation has been variously described as a ,,radical revision,75 ,,the greatest single change in Australian federal labour law since the introduction of compulsory conciliation and arbitration,76 or indeed ,,the most fundamental revolution in industrial relations since federation.77 Yet, as Figure 6 demonstrates, when our data for the five sets of variables are consolidated into an aggregate measure, a different picture emerges. Notwithstanding the clear rise and fall in the levels of protection spanning the period 1993­1997, the slight downturn in 2005 after the Work Choices legislation, and the upturn again following the implementation of the Rudd Governments ,,Forward with Fairness policies, the overwhelming impression is one of overall stability in Australian labour law at quite moderate levels of protection over the forty year period. In other words, and allowing for some possible understatement in the level of protection, the present state of Australian labour law appears in a quantitative sense to be little different in levels of protective content from where it was positioned at the commencement of the measured period, and (apart from one confined period) relatively stable in its trajectory. 74 See S McCrystal, "A New Consensus: The Coalition, the ALP and the Regulation of Industrial Action" in Forsyth and Stewart, above n #, p 141. 75 J Murray, ,,Work Choices and the Radical Revision of the Public Realm of Australian Statutory Labour Law (2006) 35 Industrial Law Journal 343. 76 C Fenwick, ,,How Low can you Go? Minimum Working Conditions under Australias New Labour Laws (2006) 16 Economic and Labour Relations Review 85 at 86. 77 R Hall, ,,Australian Industrial Relations in 2005 ­ The WorkChoices Revolution (2006) 48 Journal of Industrial Relations 291 at 292. 20
Figure 6. Labour Market Regulation ­ Aggregate Index (40 variables) 35
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Does this present a fair or even recognisable picture of the recent development of labour law in this country? The peak in 1994, when the Keating Governments Industrial Relations Reform Act 1993 took effect, seems quite understandable. Among other things, that legislation did not just introduce a near-universal right to complain of unfair dismissal, but mandated procedural fairness in dismissal decisions.78 It also created a right to take industrial action, where none had previously existed (at least as a matter of law, as opposed to practice). The corresponding fall after 1996 can likewise be justified. While the capacity to take lawful industrial action was maintained, that was counterbalanced, as we have seen, by a significant reduction in the rights of trade unions, and by a watering down of the protections against unfair dismissal. It is also easy enough to explain why the new Fair Work legislation has not resulted in a return to the heights of 1994. Although the National Employment Standards and the modern award system have between them created a stronger ,,safety net of minimum standards, many employees already enjoyed similar rights under the Workplace Relations Act 1996.79 Similarly, while the new unfair dismissal laws cover more workers than before, they do not provide significantly stronger protection or remedies.80 Then there are the various aspects of Howard Government policy that have been retained, including a strong emphasis on the freedom not to associate, and tight controls on pattern bargaining and industrial action. The
78 Industrial Relations Act 1988 (Cth) s 170DC. Compare the position under subsequent legislation, under which procedural (un)fairness is merely one factor to be taken into account in determining whether a dismissal is ,,harsh, unjust or unreasonable: see eg Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) s 387. 79 See J Murray and R Owens, ,,The Safety Net: Labour Standards in the New Era in Forsyth and Stewart, above n #, p 40. 80 See Chapman, ,,The Decline and Restoration of Unfair Dismissal Rights, above, n #. 21
abolition of statutory individual agreements also has to be balanced against the availability of other mechanisms that permit employers and individual employees to contract out of award standards, and even collective agreements.81 The Fair Work Act does impose a duty on employers to bargain collectively, at least where a majority of employees can be shown to want that.82 But it not clear that either this duty, or the new requirement to bargain in good faith,83 will do much to increase the overall incidence of collective bargaining.84 What perhaps is harder to understand, in terms of the picture presented in Figure 6, is the treatment of the Work Choices legislation. Intuitively, we might expect to find a ,,trough for the years 2006­2008 that at least matches, if not exceeds, the scale of the peak recorded for 1994­1996. Why does not that appear? It seems to us that there are at least three possible explanations. The first is that it may reveal a number of weaknesses in the way the Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index is constructed. We have already alluded to the potential distortions that may flow from treating all variables as carrying equal weight in each sub-index, or indeed in the construction of the aggregate scores. Then there is the failure to include any variables relating to wage regulation, an issue on which Australia would rate very highly in terms of protective strength. A further point to make about the Index is that it endeavours to assess a countrys laws at a general or national level. Aside from any difficulty this may create in accounting for variations at the State or provincial level, it cannot readily accommodate the differential impact that certain laws may have on particular sectors of the labour market. This has particular significance in assessing the Work Choices reforms. They had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable, low-paid workers in small businesses, most obviously through the removal of unfair dismissal rights and the weakening of the award system. It is of course these very workers for whom the protective strength of labour law is most important. This indeed suggests a possible direction for future leximetric work, which might involve reconstructing the Index around the paradigm of a vulnerable worker, or of a series of different types of vulnerable worker. This would be the very antithesis of the approach adopted in the original Botero et al project.85 81 This can be done through ,,individual flexibility arrangements, under flexibility terms that are now mandatory inclusions in both modern awards and enterprise agreements: see Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 144, 202­203. In addition, certain ,,high income employees can agree under Division 3 of Part 2-9 not to have the benefit of awards that would otherwise apply to them. We should note that the capacity to contract out of collective standards is not in any event addressed by the variables selected for the Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index. 82 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 236­237. The making of a ,,majority support determination under these provisions opens the way for a bargaining order to be issued by Fair Work Australia under s 230, in the event that the employer then fails to bargain in good faith. 83 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) s 228. See A Rathmell, ,,Collective Bargaining After Work Choices: Will "Good Faith" Take Us Forward With Fairness? (2008) 21 Australian Journal of Labour Law 164. 84 See A Forsyth, ,,"Exit Stage Left", now "Centre Stage": Collective Bargaining under Work Choices and Fair Work in Forsyth and Stewart, above n #, p 120. 85 See above n #. 22
There is also a second explanation for the failure of the Work Choices reforms to show up more strongly in our aggregate index. It may be that much of the response to Work Choices, while at one level quite understandable given both the sheer scale of the legislation and the strength of the opposition it excited, has tended to overstate its effects. It is worth emphasising just how much of the ,,old regime survived the changes, albeit with reduced significance: the award system, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, provision for union-negotiated collective agreements, the capacity to take lawful industrial action, protection of victimisation of union members, the capacity to complain of unfair dismissal, and so on.86 Indeed in at least one respect, the Howard Government was responsible for a significant strengthening in the protection afforded to vulnerable workers ­ albeit this occurred not as part of the original Work Choices package, but as part of the strategic retreat that the government chose to beat in 2007 when confronted with the strength of community response to its reforms. We are referring here to the creation of a new agency, the Workplace Ombudsman, with both the mandate and (more importantly) the funding to play an active and visible role in enforcing award and legislative standards, especially in industries where noncompliance may historically have been rife.87 Thirdly, there is a point to which we have already alluded, concerning the impact of some of the key Work Choices reforms ­ in particular, the abolition of the no-disadvantage test for workplace agreements. Much of that impact was only likely to be felt over time, as pacesetting employers gradually explored the various opportunities offered to them under the legislation, and as competitive pressures then forced their rivals to follow suit.88 Importantly too, the initial effect of the changes was dampened by the skill shortages and generally strong labour market conditions that prevailed at the time. The full effect of Work Choices on wages and working conditions was only likely to become apparent once there was a downturn in the economy and jobs became more scarce.89 As it transpired, the key Work Choices changes were reversed while the economy and the labour market remained strong. Had they still been in place now, in the aftermath of the recession brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008­2009, there would be a much stronger case for expecting a deeper trough at the end of the graph in Figure 6. A Comparative Assessment One obvious question arising from our analysis concerns the validity of assumptions about the relative strength of Australian labour law, when viewed historically.90 But a second 86 See A Stewart, ,,Work Choices in Overview: Big Bang or Slow Burn? (2006) 16(2) Economic and Labour Relations Review 25 at 26, 51­4. 87 See T Hardy, ,,A Changing of the Guard: Enforcement of Workplace Relations Law Since Work Choices and Beyond in Forsyth and Stewart, above n #, p 75. 88 See C Briggs, Federal IR Reform: The Shape of Things to Come, ACIRRT, University of Sydney, 2005; Stewart, ,,Work Choices in Overview, above n #, at 53­4. 89 See Peetz, above n #, ch 4. 90 See Jones and Mitchell, above n #. 23
question is what the data says about the Australian systems convergence on a model of labour law in accordance with the ,,legal origins hypothesis. This is an issue that we explore in more detail in a separate article.91 But for the present we can say something at least about the protective strength of Australian labour law, when compared with the United Kingdom, the United States, India, France and Germany. In Figure 7 we have inserted an indicator marking the aggregate trajectory of Australian labour law into the equivalent figure constructed for the other countries covered in the Deakin, Lele and Siems article.92 As the figure shows, there is a divide between the levels of protection in the two civil law-based countries, and those of common law origin. As Deakin et al note in their article ,,[o]n the face of it, this analysis supports the legal origin claim for labour law,93 and our data indicates that Australia fits neatly into this pattern. It has an aggregate level of protection approximately that of the UK, ranking at a less than moderate score of about 15 on the 40 point scale, but well ahead of the US (about 6), and below India (about 21­22). Figure 7. Aggregate Labour Regulation (40 variables), International Comparisons
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But does the long-term trend of labour law since 1970 support the legal origins claim concerning the path dependency of laws and institutions? Of the four common law-origin
91 [*ref to be added] 92 See Figure 1 in Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #, at 146. 93 Ibid, at 145. 24
countries in the present sample, three (India, the US and Australia) show relatively little change over the time period in their aggregate labour law scores, although the Australian indicator does show a short period of quite acute incline and decline in the level of protection over a short period (1993­1997). The figure shows that US labour law has hardly changed at all since its system was put in place, whilst the Indian system, particularly through change in the unfair dismissal and industrial action categories, has shown a steady propensity to increase in strength. The UK, by comparison, has shown a tendency for its labour law to rise and fall, to an appreciable degree, in the levels of protection across all five categories of subvariables in the index. However, this appears to be explainable principally by political effects (ie, changes of government), and the impact of transnational harmonisation through the directives of the European Union rather than a discernible legal origins effect.94 As Deakin, Lele and Siems point out, it is difficult to identify the kind of correlation in the development of labour laws in the UK, the US and India that might be expected under the legal origins theory.95 Since its inception in 1947, Indian Labour law has largely repudiated the ,,voluntarist system of the UK in favour of more state interventionist regulation, which, in terms of protective strength has placed it much closer to the civil law family than it is to the other common law origin countries. Similarly, there are important divergences between the US and the UK in terms of the strength of labour law. US labour law has remained largely unprotective of employees and unions when compared with the other common law countries. By comparison, UK labour law, most noticeably in relation to the collective variables (employee representation and industrial action)96 has come from a radically different position, or diverged sharply away from the US position in other respects (for instance, in the regulation of dismissals). There may be some argument that UK labour law, particularly over the period from 1980 to 1996, had moved much closer to the US position; but, as noted above, there are political explanations for these developments, and for the subsequent movement away from the trend in US labour law. On this analysis, ,,legal origin does not appear to offer a strong explanation for the long-term trends in either system. There are useful parallels, we feel, to be found in an examination of the development of Australian labour law. Whilst Australia has, from time to time, borrowed US labour law concepts,97 particularly in relation to the regulation of collective labour relations, there is no obvious strong common law origins effect at work across the two countries ­ particularly if we look at trends over time. Australias system has relied, historically, on relatively high levels of state intervention and, as Figure 7 shows, Australian labour law has remained on a course quite distinct from that of the US.98 There is, moreover, no indication of the type of 94 Ibid, at 145, 154, 155. 95 Ibid, at 149­151. 96 Again we need to urge caution on this point, as it is possible that the condition of US labour law is also understated for the same reasons as Australia might be understated (see text following n # above). 97 As has the UK: see Deakin, Lele and Siems, above n #, at 151. 98 Compare the suggestions or predictions of a shift in Australian labour law towards a so-called ,,Anglo- American model: see eg L Bennett, ,,The American Model of Labour Law in Australia (1992) 5 Australian 25
decline in Australian labour law as occurred in UK labour law, bringing it closer to the US levels of protection between about 1980 and the mid-1990s. Rather, apart from a short period of volatility in the mid-1990s, Australian labour law has held its course in levels of protection, more or less tracking in parallel fashion the much lower levels of protection in the US. There are some slight parallels with UK labour law, but these are, again, not indicative particularly of a strong common law origin effect. The election of a conservative Federal Government in the mid-1990s saw a sharp decline in levels of labour law protection, as occurred in the UK with the election of the Thatcher Conservative government in 1979, and a corresponding improvement in levels of protection with the election of a Labor government in 2007, which also mirrored the UK position following the election a decade earlier of the Blair Labour government. For much of the past 40 years, Australian labour law has run a course parallel with the Indian position, but at appreciably lower levels of protection. Thus whilst there arguably has been some relationship between trends in labour law in the UK and Australia, there appears to have been no impact upon each other of the systems in India and Australia, and the US and Australia, in aggregate terms. When we look more closely at some of the sub-indices,99 we find that in relation to industrial action, for example, the laws of the UK and India diverged in the early-to-mid 1980s, and then converged more closely in the late 1990s. Australian labour law on industrial action strengthened considerably at the time when the same dimension of labour law was in decline in the UK, moving more closely to the levels of protection in the Indian system by 1993, and thereafter declining to a level more approximate to the law of the UK in this category. By way of contrast, US labour law over this period barely changed. The trends in relation to the employee representation sub-index are much less diverse, with India, the UK, the US and Australia reaching roughly similar levels of protection over the past several years. But again, if we take the regulation of dismissals, we find considerable divergence in levels of protection between India and the other common law origin countries, and in a time of relative stability in the dismissal laws of the US, India and the UK, Australian law saw a sharp incline and decline in levels of protection. As noted by Deakin, Lele and Siems, most of these developments, showing substantial inclines or declines in levels of labour law protection, have been prompted mainly by political change. In this process there have been some cross-influences through legislative borrowing, mainly in the areas of trade union recognition, good faith bargaining, strikes and unfair dismissal. But the degree and levels of divergence over time between countries within the same legal family seems to imply that historical, political and economic contingency (context) provides a safer way of understanding the development of labour law and its Journal of Labour Law 135; R McCallum, ,,Plunder Downunder: Transplanting the Anglo-American Labor Law Model to Australia (2005) 26 Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal 381. 99 Details as to the results for each sub-index can be found in Cooney et al, above n #, at pp 20­4. 26
relationship with economic development in a country, as opposed to an assumed a priori link with its legal origins. Conclusion Without further empirical examination of Australian labour law and other related fields, it is difficult for us to conclude with any certainty about the importance of legal origins theory and its relationship with economic development. Nevertheless, there are a number of arguments which might be advanced about Australian labour law in the context of legal origins theory and the debate over convergence/divergence in labour law. A ,,strong form of legal origins theory would predict that Australian labour law, through some form of inherent common law characteristic, would resemble the labour law systems of other common law countries. That is, we might expect to find a regulatory style that is more liberal and less employee-protective, as opposed to the more restrictive, employee-friendly form of labour market regulation that might be associated with civil law countries. Such a theory would also predict that this regulatory style would hold fast, notwithstanding important changes of an economic, social and political nature. The general Australian evidence on this is very mixed. Clearly Australian labour law inherited many features of the British common law system during its colonial period and beyond, and it has also in more recent years borrowed legal developments from both the UK and the US in pursuing labour law reform.100 However, there is some evidence to suggest that, through its adoption of the compulsory arbitration system at the turn of the twentieth century, Australia deviated away from the common law systems and adopted laws which brought it closer to the civil-law-family style of labour market regulation (in terms of the level of regulatory intervention and protections extended to workers);101 although at the same time such a characterisation can be overstated.102 At the very least, it is difficult to sustain an argument for the ,,strong predictive quality of legal origins theory suggested by some of its advocates. In other words, the Australian evidence supports an argument that the timing of stages of economic development, perhaps the type of labour market and industry structure, and changes in the political environment, may be more important for explaining the direction of legal evolution than legal origins. At best, there is evidence of a ,,weak legal origins effect in the Australian case. There is a 100 See R McCallum, ,,Convergences and/or Divergences of Labor Law Systems: The View from Australia (2007) 28 Comparative Law and Policy Journal 455. 101 This would not be to argue that the Australasian developments in compulsory arbitration in the latenineteenth and early-twentieth centuries were derived from civil law systems. In fact the system was relatively novel, although there were antecedents of such developments in many different legal systems, both common law and civil law. However, the most immediate direct models from which the compulsory arbitration idea was taken were probably the Canadian models of the 1880s and 1890s: see Mitchell, above n #. 102 See Jones and Mitchell, above n #; Marshall, Mitchell and ODonnell, above n #. 27
discernible divide between the common law origin countries and the civil law origin countries in overall levels of labour protection, and, as we have seen, Australia fits quite comfortably within this analysis.103 But as we have noted also, Australian labour law has deviated markedly, in certain respects, from the labour law systems of other common law origin countries, at certain economic and historical junctures. A further hypothesis might be that whatever the past influence of legal origins might have been on the evolution of Australian labour law, the systems recent history shows a convergence upon a single model of very low level labour protection in what is a ,,race to the bottom induced by global economic competition. It is possible to find some arguments to this effect in the Australian literature on labour market regulation.104 However, the evidence from our data does not suggest any such evolution in Australian labour law over the past four decades. The data shown in the Aggregate Index for Australian labour law (Figure 6) indicates that apart from a short period in the mid-1990s, when it rose then declined rather sharply, the protective quality of Australian labour law has remained fairly constant since 1970 at least. If there was a tendency in Australian labour law to converge upon a model with much lower levels of protection we might expect to see a shift towards the US model. Whilst, ostensibly, there are individual examples of Australian labour law borrowings of US labour law concepts,105 the comparative data shows a line of roughly parallel development rather than convergence between Australia and the US (see Figure 7). Whether there are closer, or converging, relationships between Australia and its immediate economic competitors in the Asia/Pacific region is a question requiring further research work. Another possible hypothetical scenario is one which would see Australian labour law as converging on a single common model of regulation, by virtue of the influence of policies being recommended by leading international institutions (such as the World Bank), or because of arguments about economic efficiency. Again the tenor of this argument would see any such convergence as essentially one upon a less regulated (common law) style rather than a more regulated (civil law) style, because of the general assumptions made in this literature about the greater efficiency of the common law model(s). Quite aside from whatever influence other regulatory institutions might have had on the reform of Australian labour law, it is clear that its recent evolution has been strongly influenced by certain ideas about economic efficiency, productivity and so on.106 But be that as it may, our data contains no evidence that the Australian labour law system is converging upon a single model, nor that those of the other countries examined here are doing so. This is, admittedly, only a small sample, but our data on the tendencies of Australian labour law to converge towards a common system shows an inconsistent pattern. What is evident is that there are periods of both convergence and divergence, which are associated with cycles of political orientation and government types (ie, those with a propensity to favour either labour 103 It should also be noted that the apparent divide evident in the data shown here also lends credibility to the ,,varieties of capitalism discourse: see P Hall and D Soskice (eds), above n #; H Gospel and A Pendleton (eds), Corporate Governance and Labour Management: An International Comparison, OUP, Oxford, 2005. 28
or capital) across countries. There is no obvious evolution towards a common labour law system by reference to an ideal type embodying the perceived most efficient regulation of labour markets. What our findings do raise, as we have noted, are some interesting questions that are specific to Australian labour law. First, the apparent relative stability of our labour law system, as indicated in Figures 6 and 7, may come as something of a surprise, given developments over the past two decades. Apart from one short period of volatility, Australian labour law has shown remarkable stability over the period examined, particularly when compared with the UK, but also when compared with the labour laws of France and India. Second, the findings raise serious questions about the supposed strength of Australian labour law. Simply put, the Australian system on the aggregate data (Figure 7) is situated in the same half of the figure as the UK system, which generally has been perceived as comparatively much less protective of labours interests. On that data, Australian labour law does not rank with France and Germany as a civil law origin equivalent, contrary to what has sometimes been suggested.107 Instead, it appears as a middling ranked common law type demonstrating only moderate protections to labour and its institutions. It is important to note that the substance of these two points is affected in each case by the coding conventions adopted in compiling the Deakin, Lele and Siems index, and about which we have expressed some reservations. Whether a reconstructed index might reveal a different picture, however, is a question that remains to be pursued. 104 See eg K van Barneveld, ,,Australian Workplace Agreements and Work Choices (2006) 16 Economic and Labour Relations Review 165; P Sheldon and A Junor, ,,Australian HRM and the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 (2006) 44 Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources 153; S Cowling and W Mitchell, ,,Taking the Low Road: minimum wage Determination Under Work Choices (2007) 49 Journal of Industrial Relations 741; B Pocock and J Elton, ,,The Impact of "Work Choices" on Women in Low Paid Employment in Australia: A Qualitative Analysis (2008) 50 Journal of Industrial Relations 475. 105 See the works cited in nn # and # above. 106 On the immediate period from the mid-1990s to 2007 or so, see generally C Arup, A Forsyth, P Gahan, M Michelotti, R Mitchell, C Sutherland and D Taft, Assessing the Impact of Employment Legislation: The Coalition Government's Labour Law Programme 1997­2008 and the Challenge of Research, Research Report, Workplace and Corporate Law Research Group and Australian Centre for Research in Employment and Work, Monash University, 2009. For the earlier period (post-1980s), see R Blandy, ,,Deregulating the Labour Market (1986) 5 Economic Papers 1; R Blandy and J Sloan, The Dynamic Effects of Labour Market Regulation, ACC/Westpac Economic Discussion Papers, No 3; R Mitchell, ,,Labour Law Under Labor: The Industrial Relations Bill 1988 and Labour Market Reform (1988) 1 Labour and Industry 486; R Mitchell and M Rimmer, ,,Labor Law, Deregulation and Flexibility in Australian Industrial Relations (1990) 12 Comparative Labor Law Journal 1. 107 See the discussion in Jones and Mitchell, above n #. 29
APPENDIX The Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index ­ Description of Variables Here we provide a brief overview of the Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index developed by Deakin, Lele and Siems. A more comprehensive description can be found at: . The Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index is an additive index comprised of 40 variables. Like the Botero et al Labor Market Regulation Index, each variable is assigned a value in the range of 0 (no protection) to 1 (strong protection), indicating the relative strength of the protection the law affords to employees. As we have outlined in the body of the paper, the Longitudinal Labour Regulation Index consists of five sub-indices covering different elements of labour law. With the exception of social security law, these five indicia can be mapped directly against measures included in the Botero et al data. Each of the five subindices is calculated as the sum of the score given to each of the individual variables that make up each sub-index; the aggregate index is the sum of all variables. The table below provides a brief summary of the 40 variables included in the original coding framework developed by Deakin, Lele and Siems, and the two additional variables we have included in the sub-index measuring the strength of law protecting workers employed under alternative employment contracts. For the purpose of comparison with the figures and data reported in the Deakin, Lele and Siems study we have normalised the value of this sub-index to take a value in the range of 0 to 8, rather than a range of 0 to 10, which would have resulted from the two additional variables. Similarly, the aggregate index reported in Figures 6 and 7 are normalised to reflect a value in the range of 0 to 40, rather than 0 to 42, in order to allow for direct comparison with the Deakin, Lele and Siems data. The effect of doing so has no material bearing on how the sub-index or the aggregate index should be read. (A) Alternative Employment Contracts An index that measures the cost of using alternatives to the ,,standard employment contract is computed as the sum of the following variables: (1) the extent to which the law as opposed to the contracting parties, determines the legal status of the worker (can take a value of between 0 and 1 reflecting the strength of the law); (2) the extent to which part-time workers have the right to equal treatment with fulltime workers, (3) the extent to which casual workers have the right to equal treatment with full-time workers (can take a value of between 0 and 1 reflecting the strength of the law); 30
(4) the extent to which the cost of dismissing a part-time worker is equal in proportionate terms to the cost of dismissing full-time workers (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (5) the extent to which the cost of dismissing a part-time worker is equal in proportionate terms to the cost of dismissing full-time workers (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (6) the extent to which the law constrains the conclusion of a fixed term contract (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (7) the extent to which fixed-term workers have the right to equal treatment with permanent workers (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (8) the maximum duration of fixed term contracts (normalised to take a score of between 0 and 1); (9) the extent to which the law prohibits or restricts agency work (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (10) the extent to which agency workers have the right to equal treatment with permanent workers of the user undertaking (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law). (B) Regulation of Working Time An index that measures the regulation of working time is computed as the sum of the following variables: (1) the normal length of annual paid leave guaranteed by law or collective agreement (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); (2) the normal number of paid public holidays guaranteed by law or collective agreement (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); (3) the normal premium for overtime working set by law or by collective agreements which are generally applicable (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); (4) the normal premium for weekend working set by law or by collective agreements which are generally applicable (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); (5) the maximum weekly number of overtime hours permitted by law or by collective agreements which are generally applicable (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); 31
(6) the maximum duration of the normal working week exclusive of overtime (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); (7) the maximum number of permitted working hours in a day, taking account of rules governing rest breaks and maximum daily working time limits (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1). (C) Regulation of Dismissal An index that measures the regulation of dismissal is computed as the sum of the following variables: (1) the length of notice, in weeks, that has to be given to a worker with 3 years employment (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); (2) the amount of redundancy compensation payable to a worker made redundant after 3 years of employment, measured in weeks of pay (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); (3) the period of service required before a worker qualifies for general protection against unjust dismissal (normalised to take a value of between 0 and 1); (4) the extent to which the law imposes procedural constraints on dismissal (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (5) the extent to which the law imposes substantive constraints on dismissal (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (6) the extent to which the law provides for reinstatement as the normal remedy for unfair dismissal (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (7) the extent to which an employer has to obtain the permission of a state body or third body prior to an individual dismissal (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (8) the extent to which an employer must follow priority rules based on seniority, marital status, number or dependants, etc., prior to dismissing for redundancy (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (9) the extent to which an employer must follow priority rules relating to the reemployment of former workers (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law). 32
(D) Employee Representation An index that measures the strength of the law providing for employee representation is computed as the sum of the following variables: (1) the extent to which the right to form trade unions is protected in the country's constitution (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (2) the extent to which the constitution protects the right to collective bargaining or the right to enter into collective agreements; (3) the extent to which the (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (4) the extent to which the law provides for the extension of collective agreements to third parties at the national or sectoral level (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (5) the extent to which the law permits both pre-entry and post-entry closed shops (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (6) a dummy variable which equals one of the law gives unions and/or workers to right to nominate board-level directors in companies of a certain size; (7) the extent to which the law provides workers with rights to information sharing, consultation or co-determination (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law). (E) Industrial Action An index that measures the strength of the law protecting the right to take industrial action is computed as the sum of the following variables: (1) a dummy variable which equals 1 if strikes are not unlawful merely by reason of being unofficial or ,,wildcat strikes; (2) a dummy variable that equals 1 if strikes over political (i.e. non work-related) issues are permitted; (3) the extent to which secondary or sympathy strike action is constrained (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (4) a dummy variable which equals 1 if lockouts are not permitted; 33
(5) the extent to which the constitution (or equivalent) protects the right to industrial action (i.e. strike, go-slow or work-to-rule) (can take a value between 0 and 1 to reflect the strength of the law); (6) a dummy variable that equal 1 if there is no mandatory waiting period or notification requirement before strikes can occur; (7) a dummy variable which equals 1 if a strike is not unlawful merely because there is a collective agreement in force; (8) a dummy variable that equals 1 if the law does not mandate conciliation procedures or other alternative-dispute-resolution mechanisms (other than binding arbitration) before the strike; (9) a dummy variable that equals 1 if the law prohibits employers to fire striking workers or to hire replacement labour to maintain the plant in operation during a non-violent and non-political strike. 34

File: the-evolution-of-labour-law-in-australia-measuring-the-change.pdf
Title: The Evolution of Labour Law in Australia - Measuring the Change
Author: R Mitchell
Keywords: The Evolution of Labour Law in Australia - Measuring the Change
Published: Thu Mar 18 06:50:51 2010
Pages: 34
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