By The Editor
About 51 per cent of arbitrated unfair dismissal claims at Fair Work Australia are being resolved in the employee’s favour, according to academic research which shows the vast increase in claims made compared to previous workplace relations systems.
The research by Professor Paul Oslington of Australian Catholic University and Benoit Freyens of the University of Canberra shows there are 17,000 unfair dismissal claims made per year now compared to about 7000 per year under the pre-WorkChoices Workplace Relations Act.
Writing in today’s Financial Review, the pair argue that successful claims have risen because small businesses are now included in the system and are more likely to get decisions wrong due to their lack of HR expertise.
However they calculate that businesses with more than 100 employees are still more likely to have an unfair dismissal claim against them succeed (41 per cent, compared to 33 per cent previously), while the level of payouts remains at about the same level.
They also argue that Fair Work Australia has yet to release any information regarding the success rates of people who pursue claims under adverse action provisions.
The statistics reinforce a feeling that it’s all too hard for employers to defend an unfair dismissal claim, especially a small business with limited resources – and it’s important to note these statistics only analyse claims that go to arbitration, which is just three per cent of all claims.
Data released in 2010 showed that about three quarters of conciliated claims also resulted in a payout, likely to be of a month’s salary or less.
We’ve written before on the overall rise of unfair dismissal applications, and hope the trend doesn’t continue unabated. We look forward to seeing this issue along with many others addressed by the current review of the Fair Work Act.
VECCI’s series of briefings for employers on unfair dismissal and adverse action ends soon – click here to book and for more information.