Definition of 'employment relationship' to remain untested

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Definition of 'employment relationship' to remain untested

How the Electrolux decision affects certified agreements will remain untested after the AIRC President decided not to hear a current matter as a test case.

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How the Electrolux decision affects certified agreements will remain untested after the AIRC President decided not to hear a current matter as a test case.

The President decided that the ‘KL Ballantyne & National Union of Workers (Laverton Site) Agreement 2004' case covering 60 manufacturing and packaging employees in the Victorian dairy industry would not be referred to a full-bench hearing as a formal test case. The AIRC was unable to confirm the reasons behind the decision.

The potential of a testcase had arisen following recommendations by employer group AiG that the case be sent to a fullbench, stating that several of the provisions in the proposed agreement do not pertain to the employment relationship, the definition of which remains untested since the Electrolux decision set new precedent. However the AIRC President’s decision means that the case will continue to be heard in front of Vice-President Ross, starting Monday.

Peter Nolan, Director of Workplace Relations at AiG, said that even though AiG would have preferred a full-bench hearing, they were not critical of the AIRC President's finding. 'In an issue like this that has a broad scope of application, the findings of a full-bench is more sustainable in the longer term,' said Nolan.

NUW State Secretary, Martin Pakula, said that the findings of Vice-President Ross would be 'very persuasive' regardless of whether the case went to a fullbench as a testcase. 'The decision will remain the decision until someone decides to appeal that,' he said.

It is believed that provisions such as trade union training leave, union access to time and wages records, payroll deduction of union fees, contracting out of work and employee liability would be disputed as falling outside the definition of the employment relationship.

Pakula claimed that all provisions within the KL Ballantyne agreement had been historically proven to pertain to the employment relationship, and said that since the Electrolux finding, there had been ‘fairly hysterical and uninformed commentary’ about what was defined within the employment relationship.

If any of the parties involved in this case choose to appeal Vice-President Ross’s decision, the matter will then be forwarded to a fullbench hearing.

Related

Impact of Electrolux – what’s employment related and what’s not?

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