Principles of Employment Law

Subject LAWS70371 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

February, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 21-Jan-2015
Teaching Period 18-Feb-2015 to 24-Feb-2015
Assessment Period End 27-May-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 26-Jan-2015
Census Date 18-Feb-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 10-Apr-2015

July, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 17-Jun-2015
Teaching Period 15-Jul-2015 to 21-Jul-2015
Assessment Period End 21-Oct-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 22-Jun-2015
Census Date 15-Jul-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 04-Sep-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


Assoc Prof Anna Chapman


For more information:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Paid work is central to the lives of most adults. It not only provides an income but also is constitutive of their identities. For society at large, the organisation of paid work relationships is crucial because of the need to produce goods and services and to protect those engaged in production. Regulation of these work relationships by law is, therefore, important. This subject explores employment law through two integrated dimensions. The first examines the Australian legal environment with particular reference to the importance of contractual regulation in work relationships. Collective agreements and the intricate web of statutory and award regulation governing Australian work relationships will also be examined, with focus on the framework laid down by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Anti-discrimination and health and safety statutes will also be examined. The second dimension of the subject deepens this knowledge through pursuing a series of thematic inquiries: the role of collective bargaining and freedom of association; fair and equal treatment at work and the regulation of managerial prerogative; and remedies in relation to bullying. It also includes case studies dealing with non-standard work, job security, equality and bullying.

This subject provides a detailed overview of the legal regulation of work relationships in Australia in an industrial, social and political context. It examines how work relationships are regulated through statutory regimes as well as through contract law. A major focus of the subject is the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), which sets minimum employment conditions, regulates awards and workplace agreement-making, provides redress in relation to adverse action and also provides for conciliation in relation to bullying. Anti-discrimination and health and safety statutes will also be examined.

Principal topics include:

  • The constitutional framework for Australian employment law
  • Statutory standards under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) regarding unfair dismissal, minimum wage rates, hours of work, leave, adverse action and right to request regimes
  • The regulation of employment rights and working conditions by modern awards and enterprise agreements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • Various aspects of the common law contract of employment
  • Anti-discrimination and equal opportunity law
  • The regulation of work health and safety
  • The enforcement of Australian employment law.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal principles of Australian employment law
  • Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal principles
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as the legal effect of employer policies and investigations, bullying, performance appraisal, and work and life collision.
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of the legal framework of the industrial system.
  • Have an advanced understanding of the complex range of situations in which legal issues and disputes may arise in work relationships and management practices.
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the field, and to critically evaluate existing legal explanations, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy.
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues in the field.
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding employment law to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of employment law.
  • Problem exercise, 2,000 words (20%)
    • Semester 1: 11 March
    • Semester 2: 12 August
  • Take-home examination (80%)
    • Semester 1: 9-13 April
    • Semester 2: 10-14 September
  • 10,000 word research paper (100%) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator
    • Semester 1: 27 May
    • Semester 2: 21 October

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement for students commencing this subject in July.

Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed material will be made available from Melbourne Law School.

Andrew Stewart, Stewart’s Guide to Employment Law (Federation Press, 5th edn, 2015).

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Download PDF version.