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General protections claims still climbing, unfair dismissals reach new peak

Total adverse action claims exceeded 3000 in the year to September, while the number of unfair dismissal claims reached a new high in the last quarter, according to Fair Work Commission statistics.

The tribunal’s quarterly report for the three months to September 30 shows s372 general protections disputes claims jumped to 188 – the highest three-month figure yet and the first above 160 since the June quarter last year. 

As is always the case, the bulk of general protections claims were s365 applications to deal with disputes involving dismissal – with the tribunal receiving 691 in the September quarter, the second highest three-month figure recorded. 

The 879 total general protections claims for the quarter compare with 728 in the three months to June 30 (578 applications under s365 and 150 under s372); 888 – still the highest quarterly figure to date – in the March quarter (740 under s365 and 148 under s372); and 687 in the December quarter 2012 (563 and 124). 

The combined total was 3182 for the year until September 30, up on the 2756 total from the previous 12 months. 

In that year, applications comprised 677 in the September quarter 2012 (543 s365 applications and 134 under s372); 710 in the June quarter 2012 (548 and 162); 706 in the March quarter 2012 (563 and 143); and 663 in the December quarter 2011 (526 and 137). 

Unfair dismissals claims increase after drop

Meanwhile the tribunal also received 4048 s384 unfair dismissal applications in the September quarter – the first quarter to break the 4000 mark. 

The September figure compares with 3911 for the June quarter 2013, 3501 in the March quarter, and 3867 for the December quarter 2012. 

The total for the year of 15,327 is, as expected, higher than the previous 12 months, when dismissal claims totaled 14,094 (3521 claims in the September quarter 2012, 3494 in the June quarter, 3574 in the March quarter and 3505 in the December quarter 2011). 

Of the 4048 unfair dismissal claims lodged in the three months to September 30, the tribunal settled only 167 by hearing, and found only 55 unfair. 

As is always the case, the vast majority of claims – 2175 – were settled at conciliation, while 641 were finalised before then. Of the conciliations the tribunal conducted, 2656 were by telephone, only 81 in person and four by video conference. 

The FWC made two orders for costs against a lawyer or paid agent under s401 during the September quarter. 

Bargaining picking up after quiet period

While the tribunal’s annual report for 2012-2013 revealed a quiet bargaining year, activity picked up in the September quarter, with 437 applications for protected ballot orders made, compared with 176 in the June quarter. 

The Commission also dealt with 2272 applications to approve agreements, significantly higher than the 1721 lodged in the June quarter. 

Of the 2272, 248 were applications to approve greenfields deals.

Source: Workplace Express 13 November 2013