First annual report of Fair Work Australia shows heavy workload

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First annual report of Fair Work Australia shows heavy workload

The first annual report of Fair Work Australia indicates a considerable increase in matters initiated with the tribunal — especially in relation to unfair dismissals.

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The first annual report of Fair Work Australia indicates a considerable increase in matters initiated with the tribunal — especially in relation to unfair dismissals.
 
Some highlights of the report are extracted below.
 
Full text reports of the FWA and its predecessor, the AIRC:
 
Extracts from FWA 2009–10 annual report appear below:
 
Work of the Tribunal
 
During the first six months of the reporting period, Fair Work Australia and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) operated in tandem. The members of Fair Work Australia carried out AIRC award modernisation functions, as well as functions under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Fair Work Act) pursuant to concurrent appointments …
 
There was a significant increase in caseload during the year by comparison with the caseload of the AIRC in 2008–09, its last full year of operation …
 
Overall lodgments increased by 153 per cent. It should be pointed out, however, that raw numbers in relation to lodgments can be misleading. Not all types of matters require the same time commitment and there can be great variations in the time required, even between matters of the same type. The number of hearings increased by 89 per cent …
 
Dispute notifications, including notifications under dispute-settling procedures in agreements, increased by 62 per cent. With over one-third of dispute notifications relating to bargaining, it appears that many agreements reached their expiry date in the period …
 
Applications in relation to termination of employment rose by 63 per cent …
 
Full Bench matters almost entirely comprised appeals and award modernisation matters.
 
Dispute resolution
 
Dispute resolution continues to be a very important part of the Tribunal’s work and the number of applications, as already noted above, increased substantially. In most cases, the Tribunal exercises mediation and conciliation functions …
 
Arbitration does occur, although in limited circumstances, usually when the parties consent or when bargaining has failed. Fair Work Australia is required to deal with a wide range of disputes, including disputes about matters arising under modern awards and enterprise agreements, disputes in relation to the National Employment Standards, disputes in relation to enterprise bargaining, general protections applications pursuant to Part 3–1 of Chapter 3 of the Fair Work Act and right of entry disputes.
 
Perhaps the most significant new area is general protections disputes not involving dismissal, which extend beyond the equivalent provisions in the WR Act. There were 254 applications of that kind …
 
Agreement making
 
Just over 7400 applications were lodged for approval of an enterprise agreement. Although the AIRC previously dealt with the approval of agreements prior to 2006, the influx of agreements placed some strains on the organisation. In particular, a disproportionate number of those agreements were lodged immediately prior to 31 December 2009, creating a bottleneck effect …
 
Award modernisation
 
The process of modernising awards in the national workplace relations system began in March 2008, following a formal request from the Australian Government to the AIRC.
 
By the end of 2009, the AIRC had created 122 industry and occupation modern awards, replacing approximately 1560 federal and state instruments. Modern awards commenced on 1 January 2010, but most include transitional provisions to phase in changes in wages, loadings and penalties over a five-year period …
 
Registered organisations
 
As at 30 June 2010, there were 73 employer and 46 employee organisations registered under the Fair Work Act.
 
In addition, there were 26 transitionally recognised employer associations and 59 transitionally recognised employee associations. Lists of both registered and transitionally recognised associations are available on the Fair Work Australia website …’
 
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