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The Role Of Legislation On The Practice Of Recruitment And Selection In Australia Today
The process of recruitment and selection entails the timely and efficient vetting and choosing of persons capable of taking up particular employment positions in an organization (Crawford, 2004). To achieve such, the employers pass across pertinent recruitment procedures and perquisite qualifications for the vacant position(s) to the potential candidates through the media. In this regard, it is normally expected that, the persons selected are those with the best qualifications as stipulated by the set job requirements whether from within the organization or even outside (Nankervis et al., 2002; Crawford, 2004). The procedures for achieving such are expected to be in tandem with the prevailing jurisdictional legal frameworks governing recruitment and selection. To facilitate such, human resource personnel as well as other personalities responsible for the recruitment and selection of new employees should be well versed with the relevant legal provisions (Crawford, 2004).
In Australia today, just like in many other jurisdictions, the process of recruitment and selection is governed by a barrage of legislations (federal and state/territorial) (should facilitate equal employment opportunities for all persons regardless of their status, enhance high value for labor commensurate to the prevailing inflation rates, avail proper dispute resolution mechanisms, and most importantly facilitate proper dispute resolution measures (Compton, & Nankervis, 2009, p.153). This paper aims to analyze some of the roles played by legislations in the overall process of recruitment and selection in Australia. In doing so, the paper will explore changes in Australian workplace legislation that has impacted on the practice of recruitment and selection over the past ten years.
Significant Changes Realized in the Australian Workplace Legislations
A lot of changes have been realized in the realm of workplace regulations in Australia, since the Commonwealth underwent formal federation in 1901. Consequently, it is not the intention of this paper to cover all these changes. The scope of the paper is limited on the most pertinent of these changes – those that bear the greatest impact in the history of the Australian workplace legislations. Perhaps, the most outstanding change in terms of its overall impact on the workplace regulations is that which granted the state and/or territorial governments the power to draw out their own industrial regulations without any risk of them being overruled by the federal legislations (Wooden, 2006).
This argument can be best expounded using the provisions of the controversial Work Choices Act of 2005 that was scrapped shortly after country’s 2007 general elections. Basically, before then (2005), all legislations on federal industrial relations were addressed through the “conciliation and arbitration powers” as granted by the Australian Constitution (Dabscheck, 2006, p.83). The Constitution stipulated that:
The parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to . . . (Section 51, paragraph xxxv) Conciliation and Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one state…(cited in Dabscheck, 2006, p.83).
In simple terms, this provision meant that the federal government was not capable of legislating laws that would impact on industrial disputes involving cross-state entities. Moreover, as Dabscheck (2006) asserts, the federal government was reduced to relying on the powers granted by the Constitution to a conciliation and arbitration body, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) (p.83).
Even so, following the ratification of the Work Choices Act in 2005 the federal government was empowered to enact laws touching on “foreign corporations” as well as all forms of commerce taking place within the country (p.83). This meant that, the federal government was no longer under the whims of bodies such as the AIRC and that; it could effectively enact laws that would move the industrial relations systems from the state and/or territorial level to the federal level (Wooden, 2006). Though not clear depending on ones standpoint, the essence behind the Work Choice Act was as Kevin Andrews, the Minster for Employment and Industrial Relations (as of 2005) succinctly put it, to:
[Would have been to, move] towards a system that trusts Australian men and women to make their own decisions in the workplace and to do so in a way that best suits them . . . Work Choices … [and that, work choices would have created] a better workplace relations system that allows Australia’s employers and employees the freedom and the choice to sit down and work out the arrangements that best suit them (cited in Dabscheck, 2006, p.86).
Tellingly, in what may be described as a twist of events fueled by the political heat of 2007, the subsequently Work Choices Act was scrapped in its entirety by the Labor Party Government led by Kevin Rudd, that took over the premiership following the 2007 general elections. Apparently, the absolute repeal of the Work Choices Act was one of the Labor Party’s pertinent campaign promises (Kate, 2008).
Apart from the controversial Workers Choice Act which never was, other pertinent legislations touching on the enforcement of recruitment obligations in Australia include those on “equal opportunity, antidiscrimination, workplace relations, privacy, psychological testing, [and] employment of part-time and causal employees” (Compton, & Nankervis, 2009, p.153).
Due to the highly autonomous federated system of governance, there are several legislations covering these key recruitment areas at the federal level. Similarly, the states and/or territories have their corresponding versions of the federal legislations for each of these recruitment areas, something that has complicated the process of recruitment in the country. It is not strange to find corresponding state and federal legislations differing over an issue. For instance, in regard to recruitment constraints such as discrimination or even psychological testing, the laws may conspicuously differ in terms of the exceptions and/or exclusions made thereof – what might be legal at the state level may be illegal at the federal level. For instance, when pursuing legal redress one cannot invoke the provisions of both the federal and state legislations at the same time due to these glaring discrepancies (Compton, & Nankervis, 2009).
Even so, the state/territorial and federal laws agree on majority of recruitment procedures. For instance, the placement of employment opportunities adverts, access to application as well as interview materials, the structure and content of application forms, dismissal procedures, award of rewards and promotions, access to training as well as career development opportunities, and other general terms governing employment opportunities placement and selection of suitable candidates (Compton, & Nankervis, 2009).
Based on the equal employment opportunities legislations, for example the Equal Opportunities for Women in Employment of 1999 demands that in workplaces that engage more than 100 employees, there should be equal employment opportunities (Employment Matter Kit, n.d.). While on the other hand, the Fair Work Act of 2009 demands that employees should not be dismissed from their positions as a result of temporary absenteeism occasioned by illness, injury, attendance to worthwhile causes such as union meetings, or as a result of any of the several unique personality characters such as race, s.............
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