How the Fair Work Act created a nation of victims

The Fair Work Act is destroying the working life-blood of this nation and no-one can stop it! Worst still is that no-one is even saying that it is. They’re all just going about business as usual ignoring the devastation and ‘working with it’. Even the Liberals aren’t talking against it because they’re too scared of not winning at the next election. Not only is this piece of legislation creating victims out of workers and employers, it has also created victims out of our politicians. They are so scared of loosing the next election that Australia, the Nation, is going to ultimately loose and fall victim to the Fair Work Act.Could someone please write in and tell me and our readers what exactly is ‘fair’ about the Fair Work Act? Now for those of you that know how we work at Beyond IQ, you know that we are all about the words and the brain and behaviour. The mere fact that the word ‘fair’ appears in the title makes this piece of paper absolutely victim bound! Yes, I am truly passionate about this post folks. I am seeing the victims in our society growing by number every day and someone has to bring attention to this situation.

When you hear someone use the word ‘fair’ in society you HARDLY EVER hear them say, “That was fair”. No, what you hear people say is “That’s not fair”, “It’s not fair”, “Life isn’t fair”, “Life’s not fair”, “Fair go mate”. The word ‘fair’ is usually almost exclusively used in the negative. So hey! to those really smart people who created the “Fair Work Act” guess what? You created a piece of negative legislation that has people all around the country in workplaces large and small saying, “That’s not fair. You can’t do that to me.” And when they get to court what do they say to the magistrate, “It’s not fair your Worship.”

Did you know that we as a nation are so caught up in this notion of ‘fairness’ that there is even a principal of law known as, you guessed it, “The fair go” principal.

The word ‘fair’ is a comparison word. In order for something to be ‘fair’ it has to be measured against something else. By definition then, nothing can ever be ‘fair’ because something will always be better than what you have right now to judge against. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I supported the ‘Work Choices’ legislation either. After all, that was just another political stunt to win office as well. The words ‘choice’ and ‘fair’ are evocative words that require both to draw comparisons in order to establish some form of level of equity.

However, this post is about the Fair Work Act. Employees and employers alike are falling victim to this piece of paper and the courts are trying real hard to put some meaning into the words. Just look up “Adverse action” for example. This single clause has created more victims out there than any other clause in history. It provides for anyone to lodge a claim against an employer if they feel that in the course of their work something wrong has happened to them. They didn’t even need to prove it in the beginning. They just needed to say they felt like something was wrong and employers had to defend the allegation. You don’t want to be an HR professional either today as increasingly they are having “Adverse action” claims brought against them personally. The courts have gone to pains  to determine now what an “Adverse action” may look like.

So, the Fair Work Act has created victims out of employers by leaving them at the mercy of comparison and politically motivated legislation; and it has created victims out of employees by giving them a bigger soap box to cry upon.

What has been lost in all of this popular legislation and concepts of ‘fair’ is that work is life. Apart from only a very small minority of us, we all have to go to work, put in the hours, get paid and make a living for the simple fact of needing to feed our families, pay the bills and get on with life. There is no such thing as Work/Life balance, there is only life. If you don’t enjoy your work you aren’t enjoying your life, you’re just living for the weekend or for some other time when you aren’t at the ‘office’. If you hate your job, by definition you are miserable at work; hate Monday morning;  loath Sunday night for what it signals(the end of your life); want to be somewhere else for at least 40hrs per week; are dreaming of that one Powerball; and are waiting for the opportunity to play the victim in your workplace and say “That’s not fair!” And now you have the law as your soap box. If you truly don’t like your job and it’s simply because you feel or think that you could be doing something better with your life, don’t blame your boss, simply go and do something better with your life. You’ll be much happier for it and research shows people will probably like you more, you will probably have more income and surprise surprise, you’ll probably be much happier. Unless you are one of the people I wrote about earlier.

If you’re a victim of the Fair Work Act, or if you love it, we’d love to hear from you. Beyond IQ will provide two $25 Visa cards to the best two contributions (one each) on this subject. We’ll keep the page open for one week and then get in touch with the winners via reply email. The winners will be announced in the next blog post. So get thinking and writing folks!


Written by Allan. Posted in Workplace & Personal Relationships

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Hi, I'm Allan, the Director of Beyond IQ Pty Ltd. My goal is to provide you with insightful and thought provoking material. I hope to inspire you to start or join the discussion below and to keep coming back. I believe that conversation will inevitably lead to a greater truth, and I want you to be a part of it. Get to know me a little better. Find me on Facebook, add me to your circle on Google+ or join my professional network on LinkedIn

Comments (2)

  • Adele
    March 8, 2012 at 10:30 am |

    Hi Alan,
    i am no apologist for WorkChoices or the Fair Work Act. What i can’t understand is why Australia has to be so polarised in its approaches to Industrial Relations. Why are we so unable to find a neutral middle ground and write some inoffensive legislation – most other legislation in not this divisive.
    Neither would i identify as a victim of the Fair Work Act – however the Adverse Action section has i think unwittingly massively overcompensated for the previous wrongs which limited the unfair dismissal provisions. The Adverse Action arena is paralysing workplaces which can’t undertake legitimate organisational change for fear of the uncapped damages available (and massive work/time resources) needed to defend an adverse action claim. At the same time, we now have Union rights to represent and intervene in bargaining when they don’t actually have any members in that particular workplace.
    So what i think needs to happen, is for an independent committee to write legislation somewhere in the middle ground. The current review of the Fair Work Act is as political as the Act itself and i have no confidence it will deliver any changes of substance, and will therefore please noone who works in the area.

  • March 8, 2012 at 10:40 am |

    I totally agree with you Adele. Industrial legislation is central to our individual and national survival. It should be written with neutrality not political persuation. What do the rest of you think?

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