Industrial Relations Act 1999 - Queensland

Service summary

The Queensland Government referred its private sector industrial relations jurisdiction to the Commonwealth on 1 January 2010. The national industrial relations system now applies to all Queensland private sector employers and employees. Such employers and employees should consult the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) in relation to industrial relations matters.

Public sector and local government workers in Queensland remain under the state industrial relation system.

The principal object of this Act is to provide a framework for industrial relations within the Queensland jurisdiction that supports economic prosperity and social justice by:

  • providing for rights and responsibilities that ensure economic advancement and social justice for all employees and employers
  • providing for an effective and efficient economy, with strong economic growth, high employment, employment security, improved living standards, low inflation and national and international competitiveness
  • preventing and eliminating discrimination in employment
  • ensuring equal remuneration for men and women employees for work of equal or comparable value
  • helping balance work and family life
  • promoting the effective and efficient operation of enterprises and industries
  • ensuring wages and employment conditions provide fair standards in relation to living standards prevailing in the community
  • promoting participation in industrial relations by employees and employers
  • encouraging responsible representation of employees and employers by democratically run organisations and associations
  • promoting and facilitating the regulation of employment by awards and agreements
  • meeting the needs of emerging labour markets and work patterns
  • promoting and facilitating jobs growth, skills acquisition and vocational training through apprenticeships, traineeships and labour market programs
  • providing for effective, responsive and accessible support for negotiations and resolution of industrial disputes
  • assisting in giving effect to Australia's international obligations in relation to labour standards.

Scope of this legislative Instrument:

The Act makes provision for:

  • the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (the Commission) to assist parties in negotiating agreements with a focus on conciliation and mediation
  • a simplified appeals process
  • a 21-day peace obligation period to encourage negotiation before industrial action
  • a choice in agreement types to suit individual industries, enterprises and workplaces
  • awards to set fair and reasonable wages and conditions of employment and be reviewed at least every three years
  • minimum employment entitlements and a minimum wage for all employees, including those not covered by awards and agreements
  • long service leave entitlements
  • unpaid maternity leave to long-term casual employees
  • protection of employees entitlements when a business changes hands
  • protection of people's rights to choose whether or not to join an industrial organisation and
  • protection of clothing outworkers.

The following Subordinate Legislation should be examined:

  • Industrial Relations Regulations 2011
  • Qld Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry
  • Qld Government Code of Practice for Call Centres

The following Guides or Booklets are available:

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has a wide range of brochures, leaflets, pamphlets and other publications, both in hard copy and online, including:

  • Long service leave frequently asked questions
  • Work out your long service leave
  • Trading hours
  • Code of Practice on Employment and Outwork Obligations: textile clothing and footwear suppliers
  • Queensland Government Code of Practice for Call Centres
  • Queensland Code of practice for the Building and Construction Industry
  • Federal referral of Queenslands private sector industrial relations: Apprentices, Trainees and Community Jobs Plan Participants
  • Federal referral of Queenslands private sector industrial relations: Coverage
  • Federal referral of Queenslands private sector industrial relations: Transitional arrangements
  • Work-life balance information guides for managers, HR and IR
  • Work life balance - important for business
  • Better work-life balance poll
  • Valuing older workers
  • Mature-aged employment
  • Child employment guide
  • Information for work seekers (other than models and performers)
  • Information statement for work seekers (models and performers)
  • Guide for completing ANZAC Trust Grant applications
  • Better Work-Life Balance manual

Online publications are available on the department's website.

All Queensland awards and agreements can be viewed or printed from the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission website.

Service type

Regulatory Obligation

An obligation defined in law. A business must comply with relevant services.

Definition of terms

-A person employed in a calling on wages or piecework rates or
  • A person whose usual occupation is that of an employee in a calling or
  • A person employed in a calling, even though: the person is working under a contract for labour only, or substantially for labour only; or the person is a lessee of tools or other implements of production, or of a vehicle used to deliver goods; or the person owns, wholly or partly, a vehicle used to transport goods or passengers or
  • A person who is a member of a class of persons declared to be employees under Section 275 or
  • Each person, being one of four or more persons, who are, or claim to be, partners working in association in a calling or business or
  • For proceedings for payment or recovery of amounts - a former employee or
  • An outworker or
  • An apprentice or trainee.

A person who is undertaking a vocational placement within the meaning of the Training and Employment Act 2000 is not an employee.

(An employee who works for in the Private Sector will not be covered by many of the provisions of the Act and should consult the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth))

-A person employing, or who usually employs, one or more employees, for the person or someone else or
  • For employees employed in a department of government-the chief executive of that department or

The following persons are also employers-

  • A person carrying on a calling in which employees are usually employed, even though for the time being employees are not employed in it
  • A person who is managing director, manager, secretary or member of the managing body (however called) of a corporation, partnership, firm or association of persons
  • If four or more persons are, or claim to be, partners working in association in a calling or business-the partnership firm constituted, or claimed to be constituted, by the persons
  • A group training organisation or labour hire agency that arranges for an employee (who is party to a contract of service with the organisation or agency) to do work for someone else, even though the employee is working for the other person under an arrangement between the organisation or agency and the other person
  • For proceedings for payment or recovery of amounts-a former employer
  • A person for whose calling or business an outworker works
  • A person declared to be an employer under section 275 of the Industrial Relations Act 1999.

In this section, 'labour hire agency' means an entity that conducts a business that includes the supply of services of employees to others.

(An employer who is in the Private Sector will not be covered by many of the provisions of the Act and should consult the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth))

Additional information

Enquiries about private sector wages and employment conditions should refer to the Federal Fair Work Ombudsmans website.

Information on child employment, private employment agents, trading hours, public holidays and long service leave continues under the Queensland jurisdiction. Information can be found via the Industrail Relations website.



Appeal process


Compliance Mechanisms and Penalties:

Authorised industrial inspectors have powers to monitor and enforce compliance with the Act and to institute proceedings against breaches of its provisions.

It is an offence to disadvantage a person because they are or are not a member of an industrial organisation.

There are penalties for non-compliance with orders or decisions made by, an Industrial Magistrate for breaches of awards and agreements. Offences may incur fines and/or imprisonment in some cases. The Industrial Commission may make orders concerning reinstatement and compensation in unlawful dismissal matters.

Review or Appeal Mechanisms:

An appeal against a decision of an Industrial Commissioner may be made to the Industrial Court, but only on an error of law, or for excess, or want, of jurisdiction.

An appeal on a ground other than an error of law or for excess, or want, of jurisdiction against the Industrial Commission, or a decision by an Industrial Magistrate, may be made to the full bench to the Industrial Relations Commission.

An appeal from the full bench of the Industrial Relations Commission, that included the President, goes to the Court of Appeal, but only on error of law or for excess, or want, of jurisdiction.

An appeal against some decisions of the Industrial Court may be made to the Court of Appeal.

Administering agency

Queensland Treasury
Office of Industrial Relations

Contact details

Brisbane Office
Queensland Treasury
Office of Industrial Relations


07 3006 6714


1300 362 128

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Supporting information


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