University of Technology Sydney

21037 Managing Employee Relations

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Business: Management
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject introduces students to the challenges affecting the regulation of employment in a decentralised environment. It aims to help students understand the new legal and regulatory environment under which Australia operates. Students develop practical negotiation and advocacy skills required in employment relations. The employment relationship is studied in terms of the influence of social, economic, political and legal environment and the power resources of the key institutional parties and others who seek to influence employment.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
1. discuss the origins and strategies of the main institutional players and the system, structure, and processes of the regulatory framework of employment relations in Australia
2. explain how the shift in Australia from a centralised industrial relations system to one which is more enterprise-focused has occurred
3. identify the various forms and types of enterprise agreements in Australia and their impact on work (e.g. productivity, efficiency and job satisfaction)
4. apply skills in negotiation and advocacy required in achieving successful enterprise bargaining outcomes.

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

This unit contributes to the Bachelor of Business by providing a foundation for studying the major issues affecting employment relationships. At a time of immense change in the nature of employment and in the processes affecting it, this unit begins by providing students with a range of conceptual tools and competing points of view about rights, rules and conflicts at work. Thereafter, the central concern of the unit is to examine the social, economic, legal and political context of managing employee relations. The subject will identify the shift in the roles of key institutional parties such as unions, employer associations and government as well as employees and managers in enterprise-based bargaining. This unit combines theoretical and historical understandings of Australian employment relations with a detailed examination of the current problems and strategies of these key employment relations players. The subject develops students’ knowledge and practice of negotiation and advocacy in enterprise bargaining.

This subject will develop students’ competencies in relation to the following Faculty Graduate Attributes:

  • Intellectual rigour and innovative problem solving
  • Professional and technical competence

This subject also contributes specifically to develop the following Program Learning Objective:

  • Communicate information clearly in a form appropriate for its audience (2.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

Overall Teaching Approach

The subject comprises one 90-minute lecture/seminar and one 90 minute Tutorial per week. Full attendance at lectures and tutorials is expected.

The subject develops concepts and techniques for the choice and evaluation of strategies and tactics in enterprise bargaining and advocacy. Much of the subject involves case studies and role playing. These activities require students to keep a journal/diary of their observations and experiences. Students are expected to have read any prescribed reading articles (including the relevant text chapter) prior to weekly sessions and engage in necessary group discussions during class. Through engaging with lectures, online learning activities, materials and participating in lecture and tutorial discussions, students will gain an appreciation for employment relations.

Within Class


The subject comprises one 90-minute lecture/seminar per week. The lecture generally involves presentation of theoretical material as well as exposure to current case studies around that weekly theme. Students are expected to have read any prescribed reading articles (including the relevant text chapter) prior to class sessions and engage in this reading via the online discussion board as well as group discussions during lectures. Participation in lecture discussions will provide an opportunity for students to gain deeper understanding of the weekly theme and receive direct feedback of their understanding.

Students have the opportunity to receive formative feedback through completing online quizzes and via teacher comments on the online reading discussion board.


The subject comprises one 90-minute workshop/tutorial per week. The weekly workshop/tutorial focuses on practical application of negotiation and advocacy skills. Students are expected to have participated in the weekly online reading prior to weekly sessions by writing one substantial comment in the online portal as well as engage in group discussions during class for additional feedback. Other tutorial activities will include role playing, negotiation exercises and case study analysis, all of which will be explored through multimodal sources (i.e. web clips, academic readings, film).

An aim of this subject is to help you develop academic and professional language and communication skills to succeed at university and in the workplace. During the course of this subject, you will complete a milestone assessment task that will, in addition to assessing your subject-specific learning objectives, assess your English language proficiency.

Content (topics)

  • The labour market and employment
  • The employment relationship and key institutional players
  • An examination of the different categories of employment
  • The changing employment relations landscape and the devolution of employee relations
  • Complexities of managing employee relations in a changing employment relations landscape
  • Enterprise bargaining and negotiation: steps, strategies, tactics and limits
  • Advocacy: process, approach, strategy and research


Assessment task 1: Industrial Instrument Report (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):


Weight: 20%

1,400 to 1,500 words max. excluding referencing

Assessment task 2: Negotiation, Advocacy and Bargaining Exercise (Group)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3 and 4

Weight: 30%

1,500 words excluding refences for the written component

Assessment task 3: Final Examination (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3 and 4

Weight: 50%

Minimum requirements

To pass the subject, students need to achieve at least 50% of the total marks.

Required texts

Bray, M., Cooper, R. Waring, P and MacNeil, J (2018), Employment Relations: Theory and Practice, 4E, McGraw-Hill, Sydney. This text is available online via UTS Library.

UTS Faculty of Business, Guide to Writing Assignments (2018).

This guide has been developed to help students prepare their assignments and develop an effective writing style. Students are encouraged to download this guide from the UTS website.

Recommended texts

Stewart, A. et al. (2016) Creighton and Stewart's Labour Law, 6E, The Federation Press, Sydney.

Riley-Munton, J. (2021) An Introduction to the Law of Work, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Brandon, M. and Robertson, L. (2007) Conflict and Dispute Resolution: A Guide for Practice, Oxford, Melbourne.

Lewicki, R., Barry, B. and Saunders, D.M. (2010) Essentials of Negotiation, 5th Edition, McGraw-Hill, USA.

Other resources

Recommended journals
In addition to the above resources students should scan referred journals for content relevant to this subject. The UTS library subscribes to most of the academic journals listed below in either paper-based (hardcopy) or electronic (online) format. Students should consult the library on the process to access electronic journal subscriptions. Relevant journals include:

  • Australian Bulletin of Labour
  • Australian Journal of Labour Law
  • Australian Business Law Review
  • Economic & Labour Relations Review
  • Industrial Relations
  • Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal
  • International Journal of Conflict Management
  • Journal of Industrial Relations
  • Labour and Industry
  • New Technology, Work and Society
  • Negotiation Journal
  • Work, Employment and Society

Canvas is an integrated teaching and learning component of this subject. It is an internet platform which utilises software called Canvas. As a UTS student you will be required to become familiar with this software, which is now used in most subjects in the Bachelor of Business degree.

In this subject, Canvas will be used for the following purposes:

  • as a noticeboard for announcements relating to the subject
  • to provide subject support materials such as the subject outline and lecture slides
  • to provide external links to useful web pages.