The Fair Work Commission has released its annual report for 2017-2018. We set out some of the key aspects of the report as follows:
- 4,117 general protection applications involving dismissal were lodged (up from 3,729 last year and steadily increasing from 3,270 in 2015-2016).
- Of the finalised applications, 27% were finalised with a certificate issued stating that “all reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute had been, or were likely to be, unsuccessful”.
- 902 general protections applications not involving dismissal were lodged. Of these, 857 applications were finalised, of which 39% were resolved through the Commission’s conciliation process.
- 13,595 unfair dismissal applications were lodged (down from 14,135 last year and steadily decreasing from 14,796 in 2013-2014).
- Consistent with previous years, 18% of unfair dismissal disputes were either resolved or discontinued before conciliation, 62% were resolved at conciliation, 14% were resolved after conciliation but before a formal hearing, and 6% resolved at a formal hearing. Of the applications resolved at formal hearing, the dismissal was found to be harsh, unjust or unreasonable in 20% of cases, compared with 18% in 2016–17.
- 5,287 applications for approval of an enterprise agreement were lodged and 4,639 agreements were finalised.
- Of the finalised applications, 82% (3,803) were approved, less than 1% (42) were refused and 17% (794) were withdrawn. There was a small increase in withdrawn applications from previous years.
- Of the applications that were approved, 68% (2,568) were approved with an undertaking.
- The ‘time to approve’ enterprise agreements increased from 32 days last year to 76 days in 2017-2018. The reason for this significant increase is the increase in the number of agreements requiring undertakings from 22% in 2013 to 65% in 2017-2018. Agreements requiring undertakings generally take longer for the Fair Work Commission to approve. Other reasons for the increase in ‘time to approve’ include the increase in applications to approve and/or vary agreements.
Final Pay Deadline Update!
Separately, and by way of update, as of 1 November 2018, 89 different Modern Awards now impose a 7-day time limit on employers to pay employees their termination monies. This means that employers engaging employees covered by such awards, who usually make the employee’s final payment in the next usual pay cycle can no longer do so (if that is outside the 7-day time limit). Of course, employers must have regard to any specific Modern Award and interactions with any contracts of employment.
If you have any questions regarding the payment of termination monies and/or the 89 Modern Awards affected by the new 7-day time limit, please contact Nick Stevens, Jane Murray or Angharad Owens-Strauss.