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In Australia, the employee relations sector has been dominated by legislative changes over the past decade. Despite union membership levels reaching historic lows in the private sector, unions still enjoy special protections and enhanced bargaining rights. The 2009 reforms of the current Labor government have had a direct impact on businesses in all industries, particularly how they structure industrial agreements, union negotiations and relationships with employees. Our understanding of the limitations faced by clients and the impact of changing laws means the team approaches client issues on an individual basis and we work with clients to provide tailored and innovative solutions. Established in 1871, Freehills now dedicates more than 95 legal staff to its employee relations practice, making it Australia's largest and most experienced. Freehills is considered by many as the leading employment practice in the country. The group has substantial experience across Australia's key industry and government sectors, giving it an understanding of practical and commercial industry concerns. Key service offerings include employment law (contracts, terminations and redundancy issues), workplace relations, equal opportunity, discrimination and diversity, privacy, workplace health and safety and training.

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New Paid Parental Leave Scheme Released

On May 4, 2010, the Australian Federal Government introduced draft legislation of Australia's first Paid Parental Leave Scheme. Australia is one of two countries participating in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) without a national paid parental leave scheme. The Bill will introduce up to a maximum of 18 weeks of government-funded paid parental leave for eligible parents of children born, adopted or placed on or after 1 January 2011.

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This entry was written by Kate Jenkins and Lisa Croxford.

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