What’s the Difference Between the Fair Work Commission & Ombudsman?


22 Sep, 2016

Many business owners get confused between the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman. Here’s a quick summary of the two different organisations and what they do.


Fair Work Commission

Fair Work Commission = Changes Awards/Agreements, Conciliates & Concludes Conflict


The Fair Work Commission:

  • Sets the safety net of minimum employment wages & conditions within Australia (National Employment Standards).
  • Determines changes to pay & conditions in industrial awards & registered agreements.
  • Hears unfair dismissal claims.
  • Deals with harassment & bullying claims.
  • Makes decisions about industrial action.
  • Resolves collective & individual workplace disputes through conciliation, mediation & public hearings.

In most situations, small business owners will rarely deal directly with the Fair Work Commission unless they are involved in a case.


Fair Work Ombudsman


 Fair Work Ombudsman = Educates & Investigates


 The Fair Work Ombudsman:

  • Ensures compliance with the Fair Work Act, related legislation, Awards and Registered Agreements.
  • Educates individuals and companies on pay rates and workplace conditions.
  • Appoints Fair Work Inspectors.
  • Provides advice and investigations in relation to problems with pay, conditions, entitlements, discrimination, performance management, policies & procedures & workplace culture.

The Fair Work Ombudsman website needs to be saved into your favourite websites in your browser so you can quickly refer to it when needed.

You can register on the Fair Work Ombudsman site to keep up to date with all the awards for your business and be notified of any changes to pay rates or conditions.


The site also has very handy calculators for pay and conditions so you can to double check rates & calculations (particularly relating to termination payments).


In most day to day activities relating to managing the HR within a business, small businesses will refer most to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Instant HR Policies & Procedures Manual

Need help with your HR?

The Instant HR Policies and Procedures Manual saves weeks of work in creating compliant human resources policies for your team.

Ingrid: Lead Author, Australian Employee Manual

HR Author and Lecturer with over 25 years' experience in human resources and workplace relations in Australia. Lead Author of Instant HR Policies & Procedures, NDIS Direct Employment HR Manual, and Employee Performance Reviews: Tips, Templates and Tactics.

About Us

We are an Australian human resources business specialising in small businesses and not for profits, based in Brisbane, Australia.


If you are an Employee and need HR Advice, call Fair Work Australia 13 13 94



Our Most Popular HR Product

Recent Posts

Related Posts

Workplace Relations Proposed Reforms – Update

Workplace Relations Proposed Reforms – Update

Late last year, the Federal Government introduced two bills to amend the Fair Work Act 2009. Originally, the bills were wide-ranging in their attempts at workplace reform and included features such as criminalising wages theft, part-time employment changes, changes to...

Can Employers Mandate a COVID-19 Vaccination?

Can Employers Mandate a COVID-19 Vaccination?

Update March 2021: Fair Work Australia has issued some broad guidelines on COVID-19 Vaccinations, and Safe Work Australia has specific vaccination guidelines based on the industry you are in. With COVID-19 vaccinations rolling out in early 2021 can employers require...

Workplace Relations Proposed Reforms – What You Need to Know

Workplace Relations Proposed Reforms – What You Need to Know

The Federal Government has introduced two new bills to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), Fair Work Amendment (Ten Days Paid Domestic and Family Violence Leave) Bill 2020 [No. 2] (Cth) andFair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia's Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill...