The Fair Work Commission Annual Report for 2014–15
("Annual Report") notes a 17.5 percent increase in
general protections disputes involving dismissal compared with
Under section 365 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
("Act"), if a person believes that he or she has been
dismissed in contravention of the general protection provisions,
he/she can apply to the Fair Work Commission ("FWC") to
deal with the dispute by way of a conference. If the dispute is not
resolved during the conference, the FWC must issue a
post-conference certificate under section 368 of the Act. The
post-conference certificate enables the dispute to proceed to the
Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court.
The Annual Report states that in 2014–15, the FWC received
3,382 general protections applications involving dismissal,
compared with only 2,879 in 2013–14. This is consistent with
longer-term trends, with 2,429 and 2,162 applications being
received by the FWC in 2012–13 and 2011–12
respectively. Of the 3,475 applications which were finalised in
2014–2015, a post-conference certificate was issued in 1,073
General protections applications not involving dismissal increased
by 12.5 percent in 2014–2015. This is also consistent with
longer-term trends, with 598 applications made in 2011–12
compared with 879 in 2014–15.
The Annual Report also details the FWC's plans to introduce
procedures to streamline the processing of general protections
cases. This follows the success of a pilot scheme introduced in
several states to improve the FWC's efficiency in dealing with
general protections claims. Previously, FWC members had been
conducting conferences to assist the parties to resolve general
protections disputes. However, the pilot scheme involved training
staff conciliators to conduct telephone conferences instead. In his
foreword to the Annual Report, the president of the FWC, Iain Ross,
stated that the pilot program has given members more time "to
concentrate on more complex determinative matters and to list such
matters more quickly".
The FWC will adopt these procedures for all general protections
applications involving dismissal in 2015–16. This should
improve the FWC's ability to deal with the steadily increasing
numbers of general protection claims which have been observed in
the past five years.
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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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