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Call for ‘frivolous’ dismissal rethink

The opposition is considering streamlining the processes for unfair dismissals in the small business sector with a costs system to discourage ”go away money” settlements.
Nanjing Night Net

Workplace spokesman Eric Abetz said he was looking at a proposal that would have parties liable to have costs awarded against them if they pursued and lost a case once a preliminary decision had been awarded against them.

This would see Fair Work Australia examine a case simply on the basis of the paperwork, and make a decision. If the worker or the business wanted to take it further, they would risk having to pay costs if they lost. At present, costs are almost never awarded.

Senator Abetz said that under the current system, when an unfair dismissal claim was lodged, the dispute went immediately to conciliation, where there was pressure for a settlement. With no awarding of costs, the commercial imperative for the business was to settle, and employers often just paid ”go away money”.

Under Senator Abetz’s plan, the worker would put in a full explanation of their complaint and the employer would respond; Fair Work Australia would decide on the basis of these documents.

Senator Abetz said having costs awarded when cases were pursued further would stop a lot of ”frivolous cases”. The proposal has not yet been put to shadow cabinet.

The opposition appears unlikely to propose sweeping changes to the unfair dismissal provisions. In line with Tony Abbott’s preference for a cautious approach, it recognises that to do so could make it more vulnerable to a scare campaign.

At present, businesses with fewer than 15 employees can dismiss a worker within a year from the time of employment. Beyond that, the employer must follow a system of warnings before dismissal.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.