The Fair Work Commission has published its Annual Report for the 2015-16 Financial Year. While the report covers all aspects of the work the Commission carries out, there are some sections that will be of particular relevance to our members.
The Four-Yearly Review of Modern Awards continues. We have already seen some of the results feed down into our Awards. In particular, we have seen changes to annual leave provisions, and the reintroduction of accident pay. This has meant some changes in how excessive annual leave is dealt with and both Awards now allow employees to cash out excess leave. The review is expected to be completed next year. Other areas that might see changes include entitlements of casual and part time employees.
There is also an explanation of how the Commission arrived at this year’s increase in Award rates. Possibly the most useful part of the Annual Report is the data on employee claims such as Unfair Dismissal and General Protections claims. These statistics give employers an idea of what to expect should they be unfortunate enough to find themselves facing a complaint.
Unfair dismissal claims
The Commission handled 14,694 claims; very close to last year’s figure of 14,624 and other recent years.
There were 10,850 set down for conciliations of which 2,130 were finalised before a conciliation conference could be held. Of the rest 8,529 settled at conference and 2,808 after a conciliation but without requiring a hearing or arbitration.
This means that 79% of these matters settled at conciliation, which is identical to the last two years. This shows that even if a member is unfortunate enough to have to deal with a claim, the odds are good that it can be settled at conference. MTA Queensland can be there to represent and assist members.
Settlements with both a monetary and non-monetary component accounted for 63% of the matters settled, with 15% having only a non-monetary component and 0.7% resulting in reinstatement of the applicant. Typically, non-monetary components can include allowing an ex-employee to be deemed to have resigned instead of being dismissed, or providing a statement of service.
Approximately a third settled for $4,000 or less and 60% for under $8,000.
General protections claims
For the first time figures on conferences for General Protections claims involving dismissals have been published. Claims were down slightly from last year at 3,270.
Three quarters of these resolve without having to go to court. Roughly half settled at conciliation and 15% were withdrawn prior to conference.
For those that settled in conciliation, 63% settled with monetary compensation. Of those, 60% were for less than $6,000 and 82% for less than $15,000.
These remained steady at around 700 a year. The overwhelming majority were settled or withdrawn during the process. Less than 8 per cent needed a decision, and in only one per cent of cases was it necessary for an order to be made.
Industrial Relations Officer