Work Reform and Productivity Unit

Economics & Deregulation / Work Reform and Productivity Unit

The Institute of Public Affairs Work Reform and Productivity Unit examines workplace relations issues. The Unit looks at how laws and social attitudes impact the ability of managers to run businesses and maximise employment opportunities. The Work Reform and Productivity Unit looks at workplace occupational health and safety issues, union activity in industrial sectors, skilled immigration, and the rise of the independent contractor.

Work safety

What are the basic principles of work safety in law and in practice? The Work Reform and Productivity Unit grounds the study of occupational health and safety legal regimes from a position of individual responsiblity and freedom of contract. For an introduction, see Workplace Health and Safety. The seminal IPA report The Politics of a Tragedy: The Gretley Mine Disaster and NSW OHS examines how the Gretley coal mining disaster triggered the introduction of Australia's worst OHS laws in NSW. More Work Safety publications.

The Australian construction sector

The Work Reform and Productivity Unit has a special focus on examining the market-corrupting practices endemic in the construction sector, and looking at the impact of the legal reforms of 2006-07 that focused on cleaning out much of that corruption. See for instance Anatomy of the Screw and Industrial Relations and the Struggle to Build in Victoria

The Work Reform held a major conference on construction industry reforms in 2007. Papers from the conference are available here.

See also

Capacity to manage index: the Work Reform and Productivity Unit has rated over 250 industrial instruments and their impact on managerial capacity in a wide variety of industries. See Capacity to Manage Reports.

The state of the food manufacturing sector: studies uncovering some key reasons why the Australian food manufacturing sector is underperforming. See Food Manufacturing Facing the Wall and Take Away Take Away.

Outworking: the unusually high industrial relations regulation of the clothing manufacturing sector, allegedly introduced to protect outworkers, has in fact damaged some of the most vulnerable workers in Australia. See Why Has the Arse Fallen Out of the Clothing Manufacturing Industry? and Outworkers Speak Out.

Casual Employment: the Work Reform held a conference on casual employment in 2004. Discussion papers from the conference are available here.

Industrial Relations and Trade Practices Law: The Work Reform and Productivity Unit held two conferences in 2003 and 2004 on how trade practices legislation could and should impact industrial relations. Papers from the conferences are avialable here: Trade Practices vs Industrial Relations: Balancing the Acts (2004) and The Last Frontier: Making Industrial Relations Subject to the TPA (2003).

Sub-topics of Work Reform and Productivity Unit


Public service perks don't pass the pub test

Work Reform and Productivity Unit | Aaron Lane
Sydney Morning Herald 17th November, 2016

Enterprise bargaining is a two-way street. Public sector unions cannot continue to argue that well-paid public servants deserve additional...

Union bully busting: FU to the UFU

Work Reform and Productivity Unit | Gideon Rozner
The Spectator Australia 14th October, 2016

Voters in the ACT have a stark choice this weekend: Jeremy Hanson and the Canberra Liberals, or four more years of a government notoriously...

Potential rorting a warning for PaTH program

Work Reform and Productivity Unit | Aaron Lane
Online Opinion 21st July, 2016

Allegations of potential rorting of the Victorian Labor government's 'Back to Work' scheme is a warning shot across the bow of the re-elected...

ABCC row a distraction from the main game

Work Reform and Productivity Unit | Aaron Lane
Sydney Morning Herald 18th April, 2016

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has shown courage and ambition by threatening a double dissolution election if the Senate fails to restore the...

Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal costs more than it saves

Work Reform and Productivity Unit | Mikayla Novak
On Line Opinion 18th April, 2016

Political promises to abolish the truck industry regulator responsible for pricing drivers out of work won't alleviate hardships felt today. As...

Now Michael Lawler's gone, abolish the Fair Work Commission too

Work Reform and Productivity Unit | Brett Hogan
The AFR 4th March, 2016

Yesterday's resignation of Fair Work Commission Vice President Michael Lawler should be the first in a two-step reform process. The second step...


There Should Be No Role For Employers In Employee Super Fund Choice


Free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs has welcomed the direction of the Productivity Commission's Draft Report into Alternative Superannuation Default Models but will urge it to go further in its Final Report. "The IPA believes...

FWC Decision Means More Job Opportunities


"It is encouraging that the Fair Work Commission has moved in the right direction to make weekend work more secure," says Aaron Lane, Legal Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs. "Penalty rates are a penalty on jobs. The higher the penalty,...

Business confidence high but small businesses know there is more work to be done


Today's Sensis Small Business Index shows that small and medium businesses are more confident about the future than they have been since early 2010. However, the report also shows that small and medium sized enterprises want the Federal Government...