Book Review: Stewart’s Guide to Employment Law
Analysis of the law of employment in Australia, potentially, requires consideration of contract, tort, equity and statutory enactments in the various jurisdictions. The statutory material is ever changing: for example, the endnotes, in small font, identifying all amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) are in Part 7, Schedule 5 of the current compilation of that Act from pages 275-337. With that context, this ‘guide’ is an efficient articulation of the law of employment in the Australian jurisdictions for those “not already experts in the field” (Stewart at v).
This 2015 fifth edition has been updated to incorporate the Fair Work Act amendments in 2013, including the Fair Work Commission’s new powers. The changes by the Abbott Government are now incorporated into the text, including as to parental leave for example. While the structure is largely unaltered, the content has understandably altered to address the changes to the Act. The book, it is stated, includes references to 250 new decided cases, beyond those in the 4th edition.
Andrew Stewart is the John Bray Professor of Law at the University of Adelaide, having previously served as Dean of the Law School, as well as a Legal Consultant with commercial firm, Piper Alderman. The detail within the text as to the Fair Work Act ‘reflects’ Professor Stewart’s background as an advisor to the then federal government on the drafting and structure of the Fair Work legislation. Further, Professor Stewart is the President of the Australian Labour Law Association.
The book is structured into 18 chapters, with sub-headings within each. The chapters are logical in their sequence and traverse an overview of employment law (1 and 2) to the formation (3, 4 and 5) and termination (16) of employment contracts, enterprise agreements (8), dispute resolution (9) and industrial action (18), as well as those covering practical matters such as remuneration (10), leave (11), discrimination (14) and workplace safety (15).
The text is written in such a way as to make it useful to legal practitioners not regularly in the field of employment law, while remaining readable for students and those with a non-legal background seeking to identify key principles. While not going into great detail, the text provides the reader with an appropriate and concise understanding of the issues that are relevant and the referencing to further consider the same. At the end of each chapter, the guide makes reference to selected further readings which will be useful to those seeking a more in depth understanding of particular topics.
Stewart’s Guide to Employment Law is a beneficial resource, effectively structured, for students, practitioners and employers and employees seeking to identify relevant employment law principles.