Rising Number of Unfair Dismissals Under COVID-19
3 June 2020
IN BRIEF: Unfair dismissal claims and stand down disputes are rising under COVID-19 and the Fair Work Commission may take longer than usual to process the increased load.
The Fair Work Commission President Justice Iain Ross revealed recently that the Commission has requested extra resources to deal with a record spike in unfair dismissal claims, which have increased by 70% compared to this time last year. The overall caseload has also grown by 40%, with stand down disputes having quadrupled and general protections cases seeing a 20% rise.
Justice Ross also highlighted that voluntary settlement of matters had declined, perhaps reflecting the difficult circumstances people are facing and the biggest challenge for the Commission would be handling an increased number of claims getting to the hearing stage.
The Commission advises the process may take longer than usual due to higher number of claims and the added restrictions within the Commission.
The FWC have also released information on how the COVID-19 situation is impacting how they deal with unfair dismissal applications. They have established a working group to formulate a plan and reallocated resources to case management and conciliation of the dismissal claims.
Unfair Dismissal in a Nutshell
Under the Fair Work Act 2009, a person has been ‘dismissed’ when their employment has been terminated at the initiative of the employer or they have been forced to resign because of the conduct or course of conduct engaged in by the employer. Employees who meet the relevant eligibility criteria, such as the minimum employment period, must lodge an application within 21 days of the dismissal. A dismissal will be ‘unfair’ when an employee has been dismissed without a valid reason in a ‘harsh, unjust or unreasonable manner’.
How CCER Can Help
While the best time to seek advice is prior to making any decision to terminate, if you do receive a claim or dispute which has been lodged in the Commission, we recommend you get in touch with CCER so we can assist you.
Disclaimer: CCER does not give legal advice, and this information should not be taken as such.