Glossary of terms

Glossary of Terms for website



A method for resolving disputes by submitting the dispute to a neutral third-party (an arbitrator) who conducts an evidentiary hearing and whose decision may be final and “binding” or merely “advisory,” depending on the terms of the memorandum of understanding.

Bargaining Unit

A group of employees who share related skills and/ or common working conditions. A bargaining unit may be represented by a union or other public employee organisation in its relationship with the employer.

Collective Bargaining

The negotiation process that occurs between an employer and an employee where the parties try in good faith to reach agreement on wages, hours, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.


Conciliation is an informal, flexible approach to resolving complaints – matters can be settled by an exchange of letters, a telephone negotiation between the parties, a telephone conciliation conference or a face to face conciliation conference. Read about appearing at conciliation.

Employee entitlements

Employee entitlements include wages or salary, annual leave, long service leave, sick leave, redundancy pay, superannuation and other benefits. Read about incentives and bonuses.

Employment Law

Employment law is the State and Federal laws that protects worker rights, prevents discrimination, and promotes safe work environments. Employment law governs the relationship between employers and employees and addresses a range of workplace legal issues.

Employment relations

Employment relations or industrial relations is the management of work-related obligations and entitlements between employers and their employees.

Fair Work Commission

The Fair Work Commission was established by the Fair Work Act 2009. They set the minimum wages for Australia and help with issues in the workplace. The Fair Work Commission is Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal.

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is an independent statutory agency of the Government of Australia that serves as the central point of contact for free advice and information on the Australian national workplace relations system. The Fair Work Ombudsman also investigates workplace complaints and enforces compliance with national workplace laws.

Industrial Relations

Industrial relations or employment relations is the management of work-related obligations and entitlements between employers and their employees.

Industrial Action

Industrial action can take several forms. Employees may go on strike (i.e. refuse to attend or perform work) or impose work bans (i.e. refuse to perform all their normal duties). In response to employee industrial action, employers may lock out their employees (i.e. close the doors or gates of a workplace and refuse to allow them to work).


A method of resolving disputes in which a mediator assists the parties in identifying areas of shared interest and facilitating agreement. The mediator acts as a facilitator in helping the parties resolve their differences.  Mediation is confidential.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Also referred to as a contract or a collective bargaining agreement, this is a written agreement between the employer and the employee. It describes the wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment for the organisation’s bargaining unit members for a stated period of time, as negotiated by the parties.

Modern Awards

A modern award is a document which sets out the minimum terms and conditions of employment on top of the National Employment Standards (NES). Modern award provides entitlements such as pay, hours of work, rosters, breaks, allowances, penalty rates and overtime.

Performance Improvement Plan

A performance improvement plan is a document that sets out what the problem is with the employee’s performance and what they need to do to improve it.

Qld Industrial Relations Commission

The QIRC conciliates and arbitrates to resolve industrial disputes, sets conditions of employment and fixes wages and salaries by making industrial awards, approves enterprise agreements and decides claims of unfair dismissal.

Scope of Representation

The “scope of representation” refers to all matters relating to employment conditions and employer/employee relations, including, but not limited to, wages, hours, pensions, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.