The Australian Industrial Relations Commission (the Commission) is an arbitral body exercising federal jurisdiction. It was first established in 1904 as the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and currently operates under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the Act).

The work of the Commission includes:

•assisting employers and employees, or organisations of employees, to make agreements regarding wages and conditions of employment;

•establishing and maintaining a system of enforceable awards which provide a safety net of fair minimum wages and conditions of employment;

•preventing and settling industrial disputes, so far as possible by conciliation, and as a last resort and within the limits specified by the Act, by arbitration;

•handling unfair dismissal claims—by conciliation and, if necessary, arbitrating to determine if a termination is harsh, unjust or unreasonable;

•assessing whether proposed Australian workplace agreements referred from the Employment Advocate meet the no-disadvantage test; and

•dealing with matters concerning organisations, particularly registration, amalgamation, cancellation, representation rights, alteration of eligibility rules and change of name.

In the course of carrying out its statutory obligations the Commission also seeks to assist employees in balancing work and family responsibilities, to ensure equal remuneration for work of equal value and to help prevent and eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

Members of the Commission are appointed from the fields of industrial relations, law and economics. Appointments are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Federal Government. Appointments are to the age of 65.