Proposed changes to unfair dismissal laws will benefit employers

19 October 2012 Topics: Workplace relations and safety

Following the recent review of the Fair Work legislation, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has announced that he intends to introduce legislation that will include significant changes to the unfair dismissal laws under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

These changes should benefit employers by allowing Fair Work Australia to award costs against unreasonable claims and, in some circumstances, to dismiss claims or demand more information.

The proposed changes include:

  • allowing Fair Work Australia to make cost orders against a party who has either:
    – unreasonably failed to discontinue a proceeding
    – unreasonably failed to agree to terms of settlement that could have led to discontinuing the application
    – caused the other party to incur costs through an unreasonable act or omission
  • giving Fair Work Australia power to dismiss an unfair dismissal application without the need for the applicant to formally discontinue the proceeding and without a hearing where:
    – settlement has occurred
    – an applicant fails to attend a proceeding
    – an applicant fails to comply with the directions or orders of Fair Work Australia
  • requiring applicants to provide more information about the circumstances of the dismissal in the initial unfair dismissal application, which will allow Fair Work Australia and the respondents to have a better understanding of the claim
  • extending the time limit for lodging unfair dismissal applications from 14 to 21 days
  • allowing Fair Work Australia to make an order for costs against a lawyer or paid agent whether or not Fair Work Australia has granted permission for the lawyer or agent to represent a party in an unfair dismissal application.

The Minister has also promised to reduce the time limit for lodging adverse action claims relating to termination of employment from 60 to 21 days.

For further information on this topic, please contact Annie Smeaton from our employment and workplace relations team on +61 7 3231 2946.

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