In its annual report, the Fair Work Commission has revealed it received more than 13,000 unfair dismissal claims – by far the largest of any type of workplace matter it dealt with.
Of the total 31,554 claims received by the commission, 43 per cent (or 13,595) related specifically to unfair dismissal.
That eclipsed the next highest category, which was workplace agreements being submitted for approval (5,287 or almost 17 per cent).
General protections involving dismissal was counted separately and contributed to a further 4,117 claims lodged.
Towards the other end of the spectrum, the commission dealt with 895 applications relating to industrial action and 721 requests for help regarding stop bullying orders.
The total breakdown is listed below.
Fair Work Commission president Justice Iain Ross also acknowledged the current reviews of Australia’s modern awards, which total a staggering 122 in number.
“At present, two review processes are running in parallel – one for award-specific issues and one for common issues that affect most or all of the 122 modern awards,” Mr Ross wrote in the report.
He also revealed that in addition to the much-publicised situations on casual versus part-time employment entitlements – over which the government will be joining legal proceedings in a bid to seek clarification – and the introduction of family and domestic violence leave, the commission has also explored the issue of blood donor leave.
Looking at the current year, Mr Ross said the commission is focused on improving access and reducing complexity among its dealings as part of its What’s Next program of change.
“A key indicator of access to justice is whether small business and individual users are able to resolve disputes simply and quickly, without the need for paid representation,” he wrote.
“We will look at ways to provide more support for applicants and respondents in the early stages of unfair dismissal and general protections cases, including ensuring that the first contact with the commission for an employee applicant or an employer respondent will be a telephone call from a trained staff member.
“Early, personalised support can help address the uncertainty and confusion many self-represented employees and employers feel at the start of a claim about dismissal.”
Mr Ross also said a major review of all of the commission’s information resources will commence soon and will begin with everything surrounding unfair dismissal.
“We will consult broadly throughout this process and incorporate user testing and evaluation to make sure we get it right,” he said.
Applications lodged to the Fair Work Commission in 2017-18 (ordered by volume)
- Unfair dismissal (13,595)
- Agreement approvals (5,287)
- General protections involving dismissal (4,117)
- Agreements – other (1,789)
- Dispute resolution (1,767)
- Other matters (1,689)
- General protections – other (992)
- Industrial action (895)
- Orders to stop bullying (721)
- Bargaining (349)
- Appeals (190)
- Registered organisations (163)
Source: Fair Work Commission Annual Report 2017-18
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.