Employment Relations – What Is It and Why Study It?


Employee relations refer to the practices and policies that exist in the relationship between organizations, the individual employees in the organizations, and groups of employees within the working environments. According to the Department of Employment and workplace relations, these policies are responsible for regulating and managing the relationship which exists between the parties in an organization within their working environment. The term employment relations have with time replaced the use of the term industrial relations which was characterized with over regulation and conflicts between the parties in employment. Good employment relations are a very fundamental aspect of a competitive economy such as Australia. This is because of the needs for flexibility within the work relations that promote productivity, innovation and efficiency. All this are meant to ensure that both the organizations and employees mutually benefit as the economy grows towards international standards. (Russell 2003)

Governments have enacted laws that govern the relationship between employers and employees in the course of their interaction. In Australia current laws aim at ensuring a n elaborate safety net employees while at the same time providing employers and employees a lot of flexibility in choice. These laws have been fundamental towards the growth of the Australian economy due to increased productivity resulting form good employment relations. (AGOW,2007)

Importance of studying employment relations

The need for studying employment relations can be viewed from different perspective as per all the people involved in the work process. It is important to mention that work is a very important aspect of human life. Without work a human being can be considered to be useless and hopeless. Both employers and employees value work as it is the main thing that unites the two parties. People in various organizations are judged on the basis of what they do in terms of work. (AIRC, 2009) These people in turn form opinion of other people based on what the other people have in terms of occupation. Work is a multi faceted phenomenon and is influenced by psychology, politics, economics and law. With almost all these dimensions interacting it is important to understand how they relate to work. This is well taken care off in a study of employment relations. (Bray et al, 2009)

For organizations unproductive work practices can prove to be costly for the business and that is why the study of employment in relations for them to maximize productivity by ensuring that employees are not letting them down. (Abhayaratna et al ,2008)The main objective of studying employment relations is to get an insight into the whole concept of employment or labor relation for the purpose of management of employees from a manager’s perspective. From an employee perspective, the understanding of labor relations is essential for the sake of knowing their rights under the law and how to work in good relations with their employers. (Bray et al, 2009)

The study of employment relations is necessary so as to identify the major trends in the nature of regulation. This concerns how the government regulation employment relations in the country. A good example in Australia there was a long tradition of centralized control of wages. This was an undertaking through the Australian industrial relations commission. (AIRC, 2009) Another example is the trend from awards and agreements that were collectively negotiated to individualized contracts in organizations. This has been fundamental in enabling individuals to negotiate on better terms of employment and working conditions unlike in the past where there was no light on such important issues with agreements being done for all. As far as an individual employee is concerned good labor relations have reduced the exploitation of some employers or organization due to the increased knowledge on better terms due to the study of employment relations. (AGOW,2007)

Labour relations have been instrumental in seeing through the change from permanent and continuing occupations to contingent forms of occupation. People can be able to work on contracts and earn a lot than in the past where occupations were characterized by slavery kind of jobs with little pay. (Bray et al, 2009)

A part from understanding the trends in labor relations, a study of employment trends is critical in helping employees to discover opportunities through which they can be involved in management and decision making process in their various occupations. (ACTU, 2000)Decision making is a very important process in governance which has been kept out of reach for most employees because of lack of knowledge and awareness on employment relations. (AIRC, 2009)

In terms of skills and knowledge, employment relations play a significant role in enabling workers to adapt to different job environments and also to find sustainable jobs in future that can help them achieve growth. This is so because change and innovation has become a very common phenomenon at the workplace. People who cannot meet the demands of change and innovation are often left out when companies undergo downsizing and outsourcing activities. This has been indicated by the Journal of Industrial relations.


In conclusion it is vital to underscore the fact that the well being of most organizations depend on how well the work efforts are maximized. Through employment relations this is pursued and achieved. Therefore employment is a very fundamental study that leads to organizational wellbeing.


Abhayaratna, J., Andrews, L., Nuch, H. And Podbury, T. 2008, Part Time Employment: the AustralianExperience, Productivity Commission Staff Working Paper, Productivity Commission.

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU ) (2000), Unions at Work.

Australian Government Office for Women (AGOW)2007, Better Conditions, Better Business: a Reporton Carer and Family Friendly Provisions in Australia Small and Medium Sized Enterprises,Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC).Web.

Bray, M., Waring, P. & Cooper, R. 2009, Employment Relations, McGraw-Hill. Sydney.

Department of Employment and Workplace Relations 2007, Agreement Making in Australia under

the Workplace Relations Act – 2004-2006, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Journal of Industrial Relations, CIW PER 331.0994 JOU.

Russell Lansbury , The Future of Work, The Economic and Social Research Council, 2003.

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