Graduate Diploma in Employment and Labour Relations Law
- CRICOS Code: 075252D
What will I study?
Principles of Employment Law is compulsory for students who do not have a law degree from a common law jurisdiction, and it is strongly recommended that this subject be taken before any other employment and labour relations law subjects.
Principles of Employment Law is also recommended for students who have not studied an equivalent subject in their law degree, or who have not done so recently.
Students must complete four subjects from the list of Employment and Labour Relations Law subjects.
Students who do not have a law degree from a common law jurisdiction or any prior legal studies or experience must complete the two-day preliminary subject Australian Legal Process and Legal Institutions and Principles of Employment Law.
Subject timing and format
The Melbourne Law Masters program has been designed around the busy schedules of working professionals. Subjects are offered from February to December each year.
Most subjects are taught intensively, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the subject content. Intensive subjects are typically taught over five days, either from Monday–Friday or Wednesday–Tuesday, excluding the weekend. This intensive format enables students from interstate or overseas to fly to Melbourne to attend class. Semester-length subjects are generally taught for two hours in the evening each week during the semester.
Subjects are taught in an interactive seminar style and class sizes normally range from 20 to 30 students.
As a student, you will need to enrol in at least one subject per semester and will have a maximum of two years to complete the course, including any leave of absence.
Sample course plan
View some sample course plans to help you select subjects that will meet the requirements for this diploma.
Sample course plan - 6 months full time
Sample course plan - 1 year part time
Explore this course
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this diploma.
- Bargaining at Work12.5
Bargaining at Work
This subject investigates the legal regulation of workplace bargaining in Australia. With the requirement that bargaining be conducted in ‘good faith’ under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), this has become one of the most contested areas of federal labour regulation. The subject is informed by the historical, political and economic factors that have shaped the development of the law, as well as relevant international legal principles. While the focus of the subject is on the system regulating workplace bargaining under the Fair Work Act, other relevant areas of law are analysed, including the common law regulation of strikes and industrial action and the contract of employment. The special regulation of bargaining and industrial action in the building and construction industry is also examined.
Principal topics include:
- The historical development of the law relating to workplace bargaining
- Relevant international legal principles and Australia’s obligations in this respect
- Common law regulation of strikes and industrial action
- The system regulating workplace bargaining under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including the conduct of bargaining and the taking of protected industrial action, and the role of trade unions
- The form, function and content of registered workplace agreements
- The relationship of workplace agreements to other means of regulating working conditions, including the contract of employment
- The ‘general protections’ under the Fair Work Act for freedom of association and the exercise of ‘workplace rights’ in relation to bargaining
- Special regulation of bargaining and industrial action in the building and construction industry.
- Employment Contract Law12.5
Employment Contract Law
Employment contracts have been a major source of litigation in recent years, with some cases leading to very large payouts. This subject examines the evolving law of employment contracts, and other related kinds of personal work contracts. Drawing on recent cases as well as leading articles by Australian and international scholars, the lecturers consider several key questions. These include determining and varying contract terms, employer and employee duties, non-compete clauses, termination and damages. The subject also looks at the interaction between employment contracts and major statutes, such as the Australian Consumer Law and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The subject seeks to combine discussions of the practical realities of contracting with a broader analysis of the underlying assumptions in current law.
Principal topics include:
- The scope of employment regulation: which work relationships are covered?
- The regulation of independent contracting, such as agency relationships
- The content of the employment contract: express terms
- The content of the employment contract: implied terms
- Non-compete clauses and restraint of trade
- Employment, the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and estoppel
- Variation and flexibility in the employment contract
- Termination and remedies at common law
- The relationship between contracts, awards and agreements.
- Equality and Discrimination at Work12.5
Equality and Discrimination at Work
Discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace represent an overwhelming majority of total complaints made to anti-discrimination authorities. Equality and discrimination at work remain pressing concerns for employees, managers and, more broadly, for society. Achieving equality is elusive and, indeed, the very meaning of equality is highly contested.
This subject explores the legal meanings of equality, with a focus on the frameworks through which Australian parliaments have sought to address inequality, discrimination and harassment. It examines federal and state laws that deal with discrimination, including the four federal laws, the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) and the adverse action provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Consideration is given to discrimination based on race, sex, disability, and pregnancy and family responsibilities. The lecturers in this subject combine many years of academic scholarship in this area, engagement in law reform debates and practical client-focused legal advice
This subject provides an examination of the development and current scope of Australian equality and discrimination law, as relevant in employment and work relationships. It will focus on federal and Victorian jurisdictions.
Principal topics include:
- A study of the framework and key features of federal and state legislative provisions dealing with equality and discrimination in the employment context, including theEqual Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and theAge Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
- An examination of the general protection provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including redress for certain types of adverse action
- Debates regarding the meaning of equality, discrimination and other contested concepts such as choice, especially as choice relates to carer responsibilities
- The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic), and its potential impact in the interpretation of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act
- Conciliation, dispute resolution and remedies
- Alternative regulatory regimes, including the National Employment Standards, equal remuneration provisions under the Fair Work Act, contract law and occupational health and safety issues such as bullying
- Current processes of legislative revision at federal and state level
- The potential for future developments in the field.
- International Employment Law12.5
International Employment Law
As labour and capital markets transcend domestic borders, the objectives of labour law can no longer be confined solely to actions within the nation state. The purpose of this subject is two-fold. First, to identify the diverse components of international employment and labour law, the institutions, the claims and the methods for advancing social protection to workers worldwide. This enquiry spans beyond traditional instruments that are associated with labour law, and includes trade law and corporate social responsibility. It further seeks to embed the study of legal instruments in the broader economic and sociological debates on globalisation. The second goal is to critically assess how international developments affect domestic labour law with a particular focus on the European Union, the United States, China and India.
Principal topics include:
- The importance of the concept of globalisation in understanding national systems of labour regulation
- The composition, powers and functioning of international organisations that regulate labour internationally, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the European Union (EU)
- The relevance of different theories of international regulation
- The usefulness of a comparative approach to labour law, including consideration of the major models of labour regulation like the Wagner Model in the United States and Canada
- The role of intergovernmental and corporate codes of conduct in securing international labour standards
- The emerging challenges posed by the use of migrant, contingent and precarious workers in the global economy
- The success of adopting a human rights approach to labour regulation in the face of changes to domestic and international labour law frameworks.
- International Equality Law12.5
International Equality Law
Equality and discrimination law is continuing to increase in importance, but remains controversial. This subject examines international and comparative aspects of equality and discrimination law. The subject is not confined to, but will include a focus on labour and employment issues. Equality and discrimination issues will be examined at four levels: international law, transnational, state constitutional law, and state human rights law. A review of the content and operation of the major United Nations (UN) and International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions relevant to discrimination generally and to equality at work is directly relevant to Australian domestic law as these treaties provide a constitutional basis as well as content for much Australian anti-discrimination legislation. For comparison, an overview of the European Union (EU) system for regulating discrimination law will be included. The focus then shifts to comparative national law, with an examination of protection of equality and discrimination rights at constitutional and legislative levels in Australia and other countries that take different approaches: some or all of Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
This subject provides a critical examination of the scope and operation of equality and discrimination law at international, transnational and national levels and utilises comparative doctrinal and policy analysis. While the major focus will be on work and employment, other areas will be considered where they cast light on the development of the law.
Principal topics include:
- An introduction to the different roles played by equality and discrimination at different locations and levels of the legal system
- Consideration of debates about the meaning of equality, discrimination and other contested concepts such as choice and responsibility
- Analysis of the roles, framework and key features of international treaties and conventions relating to equality and discrimination in both general (human rights) and specific (ILO) contexts
- Analysis of some of the key EU equality directives and their adoption in some Member States
- An analysis of constitutional protection of equality rights in countries with different modes of protection, chosen from Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States
- An examination of anti-discrimination and equality laws across several countries to contrast different approaches and conceptualisations of these rights, and also different social environments and barriers to achieving a more equal society
- Consideration of the role(s) of law in relation to equality and discrimination, and the uneven progress in the countries analysed
- Exploration of possible future directions for better protection of equality and discrimination rights.
- Labour Standards and their Enforcement12.5
Labour Standards and their Enforcement
This subject addresses the relevant provisions of the key federal statute governing minimum employment standards in Australia, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), which is the centrepiece of Commonwealth statutory regulation of working conditions. The subject examines the mechanisms by which minimum wages, working hours regulation and leave entitlements are set and reviewed, as well as the function and content of these standards. This subject also addresses the important topic of how compliance with labour standards can be enforced and considers issues such as the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman, and the challenge of enforcement in the context of different business models, such as franchise networks.
This subject covers federal statutory regulation of minimum employment conditions in Australia. It addresses the relevant provisions of the key federal statute, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Principal topics include:
- The scope of the national system of labour regulation
- The institutions that regulate labour standards and working conditions, including the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman
- The role and content of the National Employment Standards (NES) as a means of maintaining a safety net of fair working conditions
- The form, function and content of modern awards as a mechanism for setting further minimum labour standards at an industry and sectoral level
- The relationship of modern awards and the NES to other means of regulating working conditions, including the contract of employment and enterprise agreements
- The legal mechanisms and sanctions relating to enforcement of minimum labour standards and working conditions by employees, unions and the Fair Work Ombudsman
- The administrative sanctions available to the Fair Work Ombudsman
- Emerging issues and innovative approaches in regulating and enforcing labour standards and working conditions, including protection of vulnerable workers such as interns, casual and part-time workers and outworkers, extra-territorial coverage of labour standards, and regulation of work/life balance.
- Principles of Employment Law12.5
Principles of Employment Law
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 provides a thematic 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 modern awards and workplace agreement-making, provides redress in relation to adverse action and also provides processes to deal with issues of bullying at work. Anti-discrimination law will also be examined.
This subject is designed to be of particular assistance to students without previous (or recent) legal study in this area. Principles of Employment Law is compulsory for students who do not have a law degree from a common law jurisdiction, and it is strongly recommended that this subject be taken before any other employment and labour relations law subjects. Principles of Employment Law is also recommended for students who have not studied an equivalent subject in their law degree, or who have not done so recently. Principles of Employment Law is ideal for students undertaking a masters in another specialisation, or a Master of Laws, who wish to study one subject in the field of employment and labour relations law.
Principal topics include:
- The constitutional framework for Australian employment law
- Statutory standards under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) including 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.
- Workplace Health and Safety12.5
Workplace Health and Safety
In 2010 all Australian governments publicly committed to implementing nationally uniform laws about workplace health and safety. This development is bringing to fruition a process that began 30 years ago. However, Victoria is one of two states that have not implemented the agreed national laws. Therefore this subject examines in detail the content of Victorian law, as well as the new national laws.
By referring to the existing state, territory and commonwealth body of law, this subject considers the operation of Victorian workplace health and safety law in its historical and industrial setting as well as the likely practical operation of the new regulatory regime. The lecturer is a barrister with extensive practical experience in running cases under workplace health and safety laws.
Principal topics include:
- The problem of work-related injury and disease
- The history of the legal regulation of health and safety at work
- Nationally uniform workplace health and safety laws
- Standard-setting under the Australian workplace health and safety statutes
- State enforcement of the workplace health and safety legislation
- Workers’ rights under the Australian workplace health and safety statutes
- The anti-bullying jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission
- Workers’ compensation schemes in Australia
- The rehabilitation of injured workers
- The role and impact of the common law duty to provide a safe workplace.