Understanding Employment Relations

Keith Abbott, Bruce Hearn Mackinnon, Paul Fallon

Understanding Employment Relations

Keith Abbott, Bruce Hearn Mackinnon, Paul Fallon






17 Aug 2016


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Understanding Employment Relations examines both the theory and practice of employment relations in Australia. It introduces the fundamental theoretical and legal aspects of employment relations, and illustrates these with real-world examples to help readers make sense of the day-to-day practice. The book provides an in-depth analysis of Australia’s unique regulatory environment, situating the rules that govern employment relations in historical, political and theoretical context. This ensures that human resource students and future practitioners develop a clear understanding of the latest laws and regulations governing workplace relations.

Key features
  • Primary examples with questions expose students to real-life workplace relations issues and debates
  • Case studies with questions throughout illustrate the main points of each chapter and encourage student to challenge and reflect 
  • Review questions and further reading suggestions in each chapter  assess and extend understanding of key topics and concepts in employment relations

Look inside the Understanding Employment Relations Oxford Ascend student resources:


1. Theories and Concepts
Defining employment relations
The legitimacy of workplace authority
Frames of reference
Postmodernist theories
The role of theory
2. The Context of Employment Relations
The Australian ‘context’
Stability and predictability
Uncertainty and transition
Dynamism and unpredictability
3. Trade Unions
What is a trade union?
Theories of trade unionism
Trade unions by membership type
A brief history of Australian trade unionism
Trade union structure
Trade union membership
4. Employers and Employer Associations
Defining employer association
History of employer associations in Australia
Types of employer associations
Theories of employer associations
Australian employer association strategies
The future of employer associations
5. The State and Employment Relations
Defining the ‘state’
The rationale for state intervention in employment relations
Theories of the state
The Australian state and employment relations
Common law
Constitutional law
Statute law
Evolution of the federal system
The Fair Work Act 2009
Building industry legislation
The common law
Looking ahead
6. Making Agreements
Concepts of agreement-making
Types of agreement-making
Enterprise agreements
Current debates about agreement-making
7. Wage Determination
Types and determinants of wages
Historical wage determination
Australian wage statistics
Critical issues in labour relations
8. Conflict and Negotiation
Types of conflict
Theories on conflict
Industrial conflict in Australia
Dispute resolution in Australia
9. Employment Relations and Diversity
The diversity of the Australian workforce
The laws and diversity
Diversity and employment relations
10. Workplace Health and Safety
What is health and safety?
Federal and state legislation
A new direction for health and safety in Australia?
Emerging and current issues in health and safety
Workers’ compensation
11. Industrial Relations and HRM
The emergence of HRM
The role of HRM
The HR professional
Distinguishing HR and IR
Together or apart: A new direction for IR and HRM?
Measuring HR policies
12. Engaging Labour in the Workplace
Distinguishing employee participation and employee involvement
Perspectives held towards employee participation and involvement
Employee participation and involvement in practice
The legal requirements of employee participation in Australia


Keith Abbott: Senior lecturer, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University
Bruce Hearn Mackinnon: Senior lecturer, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University
Paul Fallon: lecturer and experienced practitioner in employment relations

Student Resources

Oxford Ascend is the home of online resources for higher education students to help them study and succeed.
Each print copy of Understanding Employment Relations comes with access to Oxford Ascend Student Resources including:
  • Multiple choice questions for each chapter

Lecturer Resources

The following resources are available for lecturers who prescribe Understanding Employment Relations for their course:
  • Instructor’s Resource Manual including lecture outlines and tutorial questions
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Testbank of multiple choice questions
For more information about the resources for Understanding Employment Relations, please contact your Oxford Territory Manager.