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26 Nov 13
Fair Work Commission releases its annual report for the 2012/13 financial year

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The Fair Work Commission has released its annual report for the 2012/13 financial year, with the findings likely to be of interest to employers.  This alert sets out statistics and information on the Fair Work Commission as contained in the report, highlighting the length of time various types of proceedings take to be finalised and the outcomes employers can expect.

Overall numbers and trends
The Annual Report 2012/13 titled Our Future Direction (Annual Report) states that in the 2012/13 financial year the Fair Work Commission (FWC):

  • received a total of 36,616 applications
  • conducted 18,991 hearings and conferences, and
  • made and published 11,673 decisions and orders.

Overall, there was a 2.2% decrease in applications made from the previous financial year; however, there was a slight increase in the number of general protections applications involving dismissal and unfair dismissal applications made. 

The number of enterprise agreement applications decreased from the previous financial year, as did the number of applications for good faith bargaining orders and orders relating to industrial action.

For the 2012/13 financial year the timeliness from lodgment to finalisation for 90% of general protection matters involving a dismissal slightly exceeded unfair dismissal applications, with it taking a median time of 111 days for general protections disputes involving dismissal to reach finalisation and 114 days for unfair dismissal applications to reach finalisation. 

Unfair dismissals
One of the key performance indicators for the FWC in the 2012/13 year was to improve or maintain the time elapsed from lodgment of the application to finalisation of conciliations for unfair dismissal matters. 

In terms of timeliness for unfair dismissal applications, 90% of matters took 40 days between lodgment and the first conciliation and 114 days from lodgment to finalisation of the matter, whether by conciliation, arbitration or the matter being withdrawn.

The majority of unfair dismissal applications were finalised at the conciliation stage.  The settlement rate for matters that were conciliated was 81%.

For employers with more than 100 employees, 43.5% of unfair dismissal applications involved conciliation. 

The FWC determined 378 jurisdictional objections this year, with 258 applications being dismissed for lacking jurisdiction.

In the 2012/13 financial year 660 matters were determined by decision, which represents approximately 5% of all unfair dismissal applications lodged.  Of these:

  • 258 decisions involved an objection being upheld and the application dismissed
  • 256 decisions involved an application being dismissed and the dismissal being held to be fair
  • 112 decisions granted the application and ordered compensation
  • 8 decisions involved the application was granted and reinstatement was ordered
  • 12 decisions involved the application being granted and reinstatement and lost remuneration being ordered, and
  • 14 decisions involved the application being granted but not remedy granted.

The number of appeals against unfair dismissal decisions was 58, which is the same as the 2011/12 financial year.

General protections
In the 2012/13 financial year 2,429 general protections applications involving dismissal were made, as compared to 2,162 applications made in the 2011/12 financial year.

For general protections claims involving dismissal, in the 2012/13 financial year 832 were finalised with a certificate issued and 1,517 were finalised without a certificate being issued. 

The median time frame from lodgment to first conference for general protections claims involving dismissal in 50% of matters was 29 days and in 90% of matters was 56 days.  The median time frames for these types of matters from lodgment to finalisation were 41 days in 50% of matters and 111 days for 90% of matters.

For general protections matters not involving dismissal, 555 applications were lodged and 90% of matters proceeded from lodgment to first conference within 49 days.

Agreements
In the 2012/13 financial year a total of 7,087 enterprise agreement approval applications were lodged.  Specifically there were:

  • 6,333 applications for single enterprises
  • 712 applications for greenfields agreements, and
  • 42 applications for multi-enterprises.

A total of 6,772 agreement applications were approved, with:

  • 6,051 single-enterprise agreements approved
  • 685 greenfields agreements approved, and
  • 36 multi-enterprise agreements approved.

Overall, the number of agreements approved in the 2012/13 financial year decreased, with 6,772 approvals for 2012/13 and 8,149 for 2011/12.  This in part reflects the reduction of applications lodged in 2012/13.

The timeliness for the days taken to finalise 50% of applications across all three application types improved in the 2012/13 financial year as compared to the 2011/12 financial year, with 50% of:

  • single enterprise agreements taking a median time of 16 days to be finalised
  • greenfields agreements taking a median time of 14 days to be finalised, and
  • multi-enterprise agreements taking a median time of 22 days.

As the key performance indicator set for all three application types was 32 days, in 50% of matters the FWC was well under this target.

However, in 90% of matters the median days from lodgment to finalisation of the applications exceeded the target with:

  • single enterprise agreements taking a median time of 54 days to be finalised
  • greenfields agreements taking a median time of 38 days to be finalised, and
  • multi-enterprise agreements taking a median time of 64 days to be finalised.

The median time for 90% of applications for approval of single enterprise agreements took one day longer than the previous financial year to reach finalisation, however both greenfields agreements and multi-enterprise agreements took significantly less time to reach finalisation as compared to the 2011/12 financial year.

Click here to review the report in detail. 

Focus covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. Focus is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.

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