Workplace relations bill: details of the agreement 8/11/69

Analysis

Workplace relations bill: details of the agreement 8/11/69

Following the agreement between the Government and the Democrats (see HR Link of 28 October 1996), it is now possible to predict how a number of the reforms proposed under the Workplace Relations Bill 1996 will operate.

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Following the agreement between the Government and the Democrats (see HR Link of 28 October 1996), it is now possible to predict how a number of the reforms proposed under the Workplace Relations Bill 1996 will operate.

In the next few HR Links, we will be progressively outlining how the agreement between the Government and the Democrats will impact upon the Government’s original proposals.

Termination of Employment

The original proposal to have two mutually exclusive termination of employment streams remains.

The legislation will provide that an employee must choose to either proceed with a claim for termination based on a prohibited reason (ie sex, marital status, religion etc) in the Federal Court, or proceed with a claim for ‘harsh, unjust or unreasonable’ dismissal (ie no ‘valid reason’, lack of procedural fairness etc) before the federal Industrial Relations Commission.

All Australian employees will be entitled to apply to the Federal Court alleging termination based on prohibited reason. On the other hand, the Bill originally provided that only federal award employees would be entitled to apply to the federal Commission alleging ‘harsh, unjust or unreasonable’ dismissal. This proposed regime has been amended slightly to provide that only federal award employees who are employed by a corporation or a Commonwealth or Territory employer will be able to apply to the Commission.

The major change brought about by the agreement between the Government and the Democrats is that all claims (whether ‘prohibited reason’ or ‘harsh, unjust or unreasonable’) will have to proceed by way of conciliation before the Commission. If conciliation is unsuccessful, the matter will then be transferred to either the Court or the Commission depending upon the nature of the claim.

Note that applications will have to be lodged within 21 days of the applicant receiving written notice of termination (as opposed to 14 days under the present provisions), and there is likely to be a $50 application fee.

 

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