How to become a Workplace Relations Officer

Workplace relations officers manage employment conditions and related issues. Workplace relations officers aim to encourage employees and employers to work towards effective organisational practices. They may represent industrial, commercial, union, employer or other organisations in workplace and industrial negotiations.

Personal requirements of a Workplace Relations Officer

  • Good communication skills
  • Good conflict-resolution and negotiation skills
  • Willing to work within rules (legislative and legal)

Education & Training for a Workplace Relations Officer

To become a workplace relations officer you usually have to complete a degree with a major in industrial relations and/or human resource management. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Most institutions in Australia offer degrees with majors in industrial relations and/or human resource management. Institutions have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Workplace Relations Officer

Workplace relations officers may perform the following tasks:

  • advise on the operation of industrial awards and agreements
  • undertake negotiations on rates of pay and conditions of employment for employees and employers through enterprise bargaining negotiations
  • represent employees or employers before workplace relations tribunals on matters such as enterprise bargaining agreements, disputes and termination of employment
  • develop and administer policies on different employee classifications, wage structures and related matters
  • establish and maintain good relationships between employers and employees
  • examine and attempt to resolve workplace disputes and grievances (by acting as the management representative in discussions with trade unions about the effects of technological change on the duties of employees in a manufacturing workshop, for example)
  • study and interpret relevant workplace relations legislation (the laws formulated by parliament to control industrial practices in the workplace)
  • advise others on the proper procedures for carrying out negotiations and on the special regulations relating to employment and salary agreements
  • conduct research into particular workplace relations issues (such as the effects of changes in work practices on productivity).

Working conditions for a Workplace Relations Officer

The work of workplace relations officers varies according to where they are employed. Those employed by organisations with a large workforce aim to minimise workplace disputes by acting as a communication link between management and employees. Those working for employer associations or trade unions aim to protect the interests of the group they are representing.

Employment Opportunities for a Workplace Relations Officer

Workplace relations officers may be employed by large private or public sector organisations, employer associations, trade unions or government. Some may progress to consultant and principal consultant roles within organisations or work for themselves. Their duties often include human resource management. New graduates may have difficulty obtaining immediate employment in workplace relations and may have to work initially in a related field, such as human resources. Prospects are better for experienced workplace relations officers who have proven their ability in this area.

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