Back to Publication

Thematic Issue: Power, Workers and the Law

The Changing Climate of Australian Employment Law


Gabrielle Golding, Phillipa McCormack and Kerryn Brent

Climate change poses fundamental challenges to Australian employment law, with increasingly extreme weather events disrupting workplaces across the country. Drawing on climate change adaptation literature, this article suggests that, in responding to these challenges, law and policymakers must pay attention to three aspects of adaptation: (1) the role of employment law in minimising climate change impacts on parties; (2) the capacity of employment law to adapt to changing circumstances; and (3) the resources, institutions, or mechanisms needed to promote adaptation. These aspects of adaptation are examined in relation to unfair dismissal, enterprise bargaining and collective action, and work health and safety. This analysis highlights how both impacts and responses are likely to shift the baselines for workplace power. Law and policymakers must seek to maintain positive power relations between employers and employees, to ensure employment law can fulfil its primary function, prevent maladaptation and transform the world of work for a climate- changed future.

Access the link here or view PDF to the left.