Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Fair Work Act 2009: a better deal for jobseekers?

with 4 comments

There has been quite a bit of dialogue lately from HR professionals, recruiters and journalists regarding the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009, in particular whether jobseekers are “more protected” by this legislation.

Sadly, and despite the rhetoric, this does not seem to the be wholly the case.

According to Complispace, it seems that while the legislation continues the movement toward a national employment system, discrimination of any type (which is covered by Equal Opportunity and anti-discrimination  legislation and is where jobseekers would most likely need protection) is still mainly overseen by the state system, although HREOC is the federal body.  We are not lawyers, so invite views/opinions/expertise to add to this post.

You can view Complispace’s presentation here.

On the upside, it seems that jobseekers are more protected by the Act  in terms of their privacy, and in particular information that is collected about them via social networking sites.

Simply put, employers can not make a decision about employing a candidate based on irrelevent information that does not have anything to do with the job.  So those “inappropriate photos”  of you that were posted on Facebook (and which were accessed by your potential employer) can not be used to make a hiring decision.

The difficulty is proving it.  The employer is more likely to say that you didn’t have the necessary qualificaations, experience or organisational fit rather than actually admit to unlawful behaviour.  What Even It Up! does recommend is for jobseekers to proactively manage their online presence (and overall personal brand).  Make sure you are squeaky clean, so if any checking is done, only what you what found comes to light.  Employers (regardless of legislation!) can and will check on sites such as Wink and Spokeo.

Kate Southam discusses this issue, as well as the “toxic reference” in a recent blog post here.  If you are unsure as to what was said/recorded, under the Privacy Act 1988,  you can petition the employer for the records relating to your selection and have them amended.  Even It Up! is doing just that with a couple of local/state government departments.

We will post the results via this blog and YouTube in the form of a desktop documentary.

Written by evenitup

July 26, 2009 at 5:39 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I have a complaint lodged with them now for over 9 months ! When a company had clearly ripped off my 18 year old with a scam contracting agreement with a scamming outsourced door knocking company trying to over electricity plans. 9 months, I badger them on a monthly basis. I’m sure they think I was going to give up.


    September 12, 2010 at 11:44 pm

  2. Further to this post, Even It Up! dug up a document prepared by our favourite organistion (The RCSA) which discusses ‘adverse action’ (in context of The Fair Work Sct 2009):

    “Unlawful Termination

    The Fair Work Bill prohibits employers from taking adverse action against not just employees but prospective employees on a range of discriminatory
    grounds. Extending the prohibition to action towards prospective employees is effectively doubling up with the existing State and Federal discrimination
    legislation. The Fair Work Bill needs to specify that action can only be commenced in one jurisdiction.”

    Their entire discussion paper is available at this link:


    The RCSA did warn consultants and employers against “adverse action” in a recent newsletters, but again, the question remains: how do jobseekers prove that this has in fact occurred?


    July 27, 2009 at 10:17 am

  3. Unfortunatly there are many online tools you can use to background search candidates online without them even knowing. I suggest job seekers try to see what information they have unsecured online.


    Try it out yourself. The same discussion occurred years ago and we all still “google” someones name. The only way to stop people seeing your information online is to make your social networking profiles private.

    Is this legal? It can be argued that the job seeker has allowed you to conduct searches as you have submitted your resume/details and agreed to their “terms & conditions” and “privacy policy”.

    ie. “By submitting your details, you agree for ____ to conduct a basic online background check before we can put you forward to our clients”

    But how can we assure these details are of the same job seeker? Many people have the same name, so the common unique identifier would be a combination of a users email address and/or name.

    Is this ethical? Unfortunately these sites do exist. Information is widely available online and there are many new tools popping up all the time. Again, the only way for job seekers to take control is to make sure their profiles are private.

    I wrote a short blog post about this earlier in the year http://www.recruitmentdirectory.com.au/Blog/conducting-free-background-checks-on-search-engines-and-social-networking-sites-a102.html

    A warning to everyone – Ask yourself if this is an ethical practice you should be conducting? Everyone has the right to privacy so respect that of other peoples.

    Cheers. Thomas

    Thomas Shaw

    July 26, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    • Thank you for this insight, Thomas. You’ve hit the nail on the head with a reference to ethics. Often the line between what is legal and ethical is intrinsically and purposefully blurred. Even It Up! urges jobseekers and recruiters alike to practise and implement The Golden Rule.


      July 27, 2009 at 10:06 am

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