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December 5, 2012

Fair Work Amendment Act 2012

The Fair Work Amendment Bill 2012 has been passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent on 4 December 2012.

The Act renames Fair Work Australia as the Fair Work Commission.

Changes to the unfair dismissal application and hearing process
The unfair dismissal application and hearing process is changed by:

  • aligning the timeframes for making unfair dismissal claims and general protections dismissal claims at 21 days: the time limit for lodging an unfair dismissal claim has been extended from 14 to 21 days from the date of the dismissal. The time limit for lodging a general protections claim based on dismissal has also been changed to 21 days, from 60 days;
  • authorising costs orders against a party in an unfair dismissal matter, where that party has caused the other party to incur costs by acting unreasonably;
  • authorising an adverse costs order against lawyers or paid agents who encourage applicants to pursue speculative unfair dismissal claims on a no win, no fee basis;
  • providing the Fair Work Commission with discretion to dismiss applications in certain circumstances, such as when the applicant, without any reasonable explanation or excuse, fails to attend a hearing or comply with an order made by the Commission or has failed to discontinue an application after a settlement agreement has been concluded.

Default Superannuation Arrangements
The Act introduces new requirements in relation to modern award terms about default superannuation, and a process under which the FWC will review default fund terms every 4 years, at the same time as the 4 yearly review of modern awards (the first such review must be conducted as soon as practicable after 1 January 2014).

An Expert Panel has been created , which will subsume the functions of the Minimum Wage Panel (MWP) and will include members with relevant expertise to allow them to be appointed to the Expert Panel assessing default superannuation funds or to the Expert Panel responsible for the annual minimum wage review.

Technical improvements
The Act implements several technical and clarifying recommendations made by the Fair Work Act Review related to modern awards, enterprise agreement making and industrial action.

Background

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Posted 5th December 2012 by David Jacobson in Superannuation, Workplace