A recent decision of Fair Work Australia has highlighted the limits of the Commonwealth's legislative powers in relation to workplace laws. The previous Coalition government extended the scope of workplace laws by utilizing the corporations power to legislate workplace laws in relation to corporations falling within the scope of the constitutional corporations power (so called 'Constitutional Corporations'). This extension survived a High Court challenge and continues in the Fair Work Act, where national system employers include constitutional corporations. National system employers are subject to unfair dismissal laws and obligations.
This case concerned a claim of unfair dismissal arising from allegations about mishandling cash. However, the monitoring and handling procedures of the Respondent were insufficient to sustain the complaint. This case demonstrates the high standard that employers must meet before electing to summarily dismiss an employee for fraud or theft.
The Australian Industry Group - one of the country's peak industry and employer advocates - has released a detailed response to the Fair Work Act review. The response details some areas of agreement with the review, but also areas of significant disagreement.
Safe Work Australia has released a report outlining some injury statistics affecting Australian workers. Some of the reports findings include a high prevalence of injury for casual workers, who are 50% more likely to be injured than permanent workers. The rate of injury for women is also significantly higher than that for men.
This case concerned an application made by the dismissed employee for the costs of his application. Fair Work Australia had previously decided that the employee had been unfairly dismissed by the respondent employer. However, after that decision, the Commissioner held the matter over in relation to an application for costs. The Commissioner considered the legislation and ultimately determined that the Respondents should pay part of the Applicant's legal costs.
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