The government has 6 key roles in employment relations, the first one being an economic manager. As an economic manager, the government places great emphasis on macroeconomic policies in terms of money supply, aggregate demand and fiscal regulations and thereby, affecting the operation of labour markets and the utilisation of manpower. The provision of a return to work incentive is an example. In this role, the state has taken steps to encourage and promote labour mobility. An example is providing training to address skill shortages in the economy.
The second role of the government is as a legislator. This is the most direct influence on employment relations (ER) and this is done through enacting legislations to create auxiliary, restrictive and regulatory rules to control the behaviour of parties within the employment relationship. There are 2 types of rules involved, the first one being procedural rules, outlining the process or the required format of proceedings, who and how are they involved. The second one is substantive rules, outlining issues such as what matters and could be included in the bargaining or negotiations.
Another equally important role of the government is as a protector of minimum standards in employment, in which the government establishes and monitors minimum standards through its agencies. Thirdly, the government acts as a model employer. As an employer, the state can set the standards of responsible employment practice. They can do so directly by influencing working conditions in order to implement ER policies or indirectly, by influencing the private sector conditions. Approximately 33% of the Australian workforce is employed by the government Fourthly, the government acts as an industrial peacekeeper.
This is done through direct terms such as direct intervention or indirectly through tribunal systems and associated agencies or alternatively through procedural and substantive rules to influence the behaviour of the parties Another role of the government is as an international participant. International law is an ancillary source of regulation where it can influence the rights or parties. In section 51 subsection 35 => S51(35) the government can enter into international contractual agreements/treaties and use them to implement laws on conditions of work in Australia Lastly, the government acts as a cultural change agent.
Government policies can influence cultural change and attitudes about work. Policies about retirement age and superannuation can influence availability or workers and skills. Payments aimed at increasing birth rates as well as maternity leave payments along with childcare can greatly affect the number of women in the workforce Degrees of intervention There are 2 degrees of intervention. None or minimal (laissez faire:) where the market is determined by market forces of demand and supply. This is where individuals look after their own wellbeing and survival.
Complete (state corporatism): identified with planned economies where the government controls businesses, workers and the market Is the government impartial in its interventions? •Pluralism – gov makes impartial decisions in the public interest •Marxism – gov promotes and protects business interest (capital) •Elitism – gov serves the interest of the ruling minority •Corporatism – gov shares power with business and unions to provide social justice Government intervention in Australia The Australia government has always been an interventionist in ER.
The degree and extent of government intervention fluctuates depending on which political party is in power. The decentralisation of the industrial relations system under the labour government from the mid 1990’s resulted in greater negotiation between employers and workers/unions. The Howard government emphasised individualism and reduced the role of third parties such as tribunals and unions. Deregulation of the IR systems has been more of a re-regulation as it is just different agendas with different legislations.