The FWO is the Australian government agency responsible for ensuring compliance with workplace relations laws through advice, education and where necessary enforcement. The FWO is headed by the Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, who is also the accountable authority for the Entity.
The FWO works to achieve its purpose in a diverse and changing environment. During the period covered by this plan, it is expected that the composition of Australia's workforce will continue to evolve. The technologies driving the platform economy, in particular, are bringing new opportunities to the workforce, while also challenging traditional thinking about work. These new forms of work will challenge regulation in Australia as technology and labour markets evolve in the 'gig economy'.
There is increasing community concern about the exploitation of vulnerable workers by unscrupulous operators. Such circumstances often arise within large supply chains or networks. In cases of systemic and persistent non-compliance, the community and government expect the FWO to be a strong, visible and effective enforcer of workplace laws. Unlawful employment practices impose significant costs on individuals and the community. These behaviours create barriers to workforce participation, weaken the integrity of the workplace relations system, distort the labour market and undermine the principles of fair competition. This area remains a key priority at the FWO.
At the same time, FWO must be approachable to businesses, especially small businesses that need support and advice to ensure they are complying with workplace laws. Making it easier for small businesses to comply remains a key priority. Businesses also expect to be able to rely on professional workplace relations advisors and to know they're receiving accurate, up-to-date advice to meet their obligations. Greater assurance and compliance is achieved when advisers work together with their businesses and the FWO. The FWO will continue to leverage advisors and intermediaries.
The FWO will continue to enhance its services to meet the changing needs of workplace participants. Technology advancements will enable the FWO to deliver better, more accessible and faster services that best meet community needs and preferences, while being effective in achieving compliance with workplace relations laws in an operationally sustainable way.
The FWO will continue to take a graduated approach to dealing with workplace disputes with the aim of keeping productive employment relationships intact and reducing the regulatory burden of employers. In doing this, the FWO will work with parties to assist them to find the best solution for their workplace issues. The FWO will also continue to support vulnerable workplace participants and work with business and stakeholders to address barriers, and build a sustained culture of compliance.