Employers gear up for redundancy test case submissions

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Employers gear up for redundancy test case submissions

Conciliation by a senior member of the federal Industrial Relations Commission has resolved a number of smaller issues ahead of next year's test case on the doubling of federal redundancy items, but the 'big ticket' issues remain to be dealt with.

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Conciliation by a senior member of the federal Industrial Relations Commission has resolved a number of smaller issues ahead of next year's test case on the doubling of federal redundancy items, but the 'big ticket' issues remain to be dealt with.

Parties to the case, under which the Australian Council of Trade Unions wants to replicate the NSW redundancy standard of 16 weeks pay (see 187/2002), agreed before AIRC senior deputy president Jan Marsh last week on a number of minor matters and the format of clauses.

Included in this was agreement on the wording of a clause relating to transmission of business, which employers believe make it much clearer about what workers being transferred will be entitled to (see 267/2002).

Subject to the agreement of the full bench, this has done a lot of work to narrow the differences between the ACTU, Australian Industry Group and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It leaves the hearings, expected next May after the April Living Wage case is heard, to concentrate on major items of difference. These include:

  • Whether casuals should receive redundancy entitlements.
  • Whether small businesses should be exempt.
  • Any increase in the current eight-week cap.

Employers' written submissions are due in this Friday, and are likely to include witness statements around the distinction between redundancy in insolvency or other circumstances.

The AiG's Steve Smith told WorkplaceInfo his organisation was concerned that an insolvency situation was 'quite different' from other redundancy, and that in a case where funds were already limited, giving employees more money meant taking dollars away from other parties, like independent contractors.

The AiG would be arguing strenuously to keep the eight-week cap for insolvency situations, he said.

Meanwhile, a decision in the Queensland redundancy test case, in which the Queensland Council of Unions also hopes to replicate the NSW standard (see 235/2002), is now not expected before Christmas. While a full bench of the QIRC rejected the AiG's application to delay finalising the Queensland case before the federal decision nearly three months ago (see IR Link 76), parties have heard no word on the decision being imminent.

And the AIRC this week programmed dates for next year's Living Wage claim, in which the Australian Council of Trade Unions is seeking a $24 a week wage rise for the lowest-paid (see 366/2002).

The ACTU is to file written submissions and evidence by 5 February, with employers to do the same by 26 February. The ACTU is to lodge its replies by 17 March, and employer replies are due by 25 March. Hearings have then been set down for the week of 31 March through to 4 April.

 
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