The number of unfair dismissal claims taken by employees has risen under Labor’s Fair Work Act, according to research led by Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Professor Paul Oslington.
The number of unfair dismissal claims lodged under the Fair Work Act has risen to about 17,000 per year, roughly in line with the Act’s increased coverage of workers. Claimant success rates have increased from 33 per cent underWork Choicesto 51 per cent under the Fair Work Act.
Professor Oslington and co-author Benoit Freyens constructed a database of all unfair dismissal cases arbitrated by Fair Work Australia and its predecessor bodies from 2000 to late 2010.
These were coded by the size of the business, industry, occupation, worker tenure and wages, reasons for the dismissal, representation of both sides, and the outcome including any compensation or value of reinstatement.
“We found that payouts were much the same under all of the three regimes, averaging about 12 weeks pay, remembering payouts are capped at six months,” Professor Oslington said.
“One of the interesting sidelines was the bunching of payouts around particular figures, which we feel flows from the incoherence of the Sprigg test used by judges to calculate compensation amounts. A better economically-based procedure for calculating expected future earnings of a dismissed worker is required.”
Professor Oslington said no other country has changed dismissal regulation as radically as Australia has done twice over a short period of time.
“This has created a unique natural experiment and an opportunity for researchers to understand the economic effects of dismissal regulation.”
Professor Paul Oslington is available for interview.