Mr Shorten said the changes were to implement a number of recommendations arising from the independent Fair Work Act Review (the Review).
“The Review concluded that the unfair dismissal provisions on the Fair Work Act generally provided a good balance between the interests of employees and the interests of employers, but noted concerns raised by some stakeholders,” Mr Shorten said.
“In recent weeks I have met with employers, small business representatives and unions who agree the recommendations I am implementing today will provide balanced changes to the unfair dismissal regime in the Fair Work Act.”
“I thank all those stakeholders and in particular the members of the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council for their input on the Bill I am introducing today.”
The amendments, contained in the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2012 introduced into the Parliament today, will improve the integrity of the unfair dismissal application and hearing process by:
- aligning the timeframes for making unfair dismissal claims and general protections dismissal claims at 21 days;
- implementing the review recommendations relating to costs orders where a party to an unfair dismissal matter has caused the other party to the matter to incur costs by an unreasonable act or omission. This recommendation reflects the Review panel’s concern that unscrupulous lawyers or agents are encouraging dismissed employees to pursue unfair dismissal claims without merit on a no-win, no-fee basis;
- provide the Fair Work Commission with discretion to dismiss applications in certain circumstances, such as when the applicant, without any reasonable explanation or excuse, fails to attend a hearing or comply with an order made by the Commission or has failed to discontinue an application after a settlement agreement has been concluded.
“The Gillard Government believes in protecting workers from unfair dismissal and ensuring employees with a genuine claim can fully pursue a remedy. But we also acknowledge that the process needs to deal with unreasonable claims and unreasonable conduct.”
“Under the Gillard Government around 7 million Australians are protected from unfair dismissal, which stands in stark contrast to what happened when the Opposition was last in charge of protecting Australian workers”, Mr Shorten said.
Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Sam Casey—0421 697 660