What is the Fair Work Commission process upon filing an Unfair Dismissal Application?
Once an Unfair Dismissal Application is filed with the Fair Work Commission, they will serve the Application upon the employer who is usually given 7 calendar days to respond.
The Commission will then organise a Conciliation Conference (a telephone/video conducted mediation) for the parties to provide them an opportunity to negotiate a settlement without the matter proceeding to a formal hearing. The Conciliation Conference with normally be held 30 days of the Application being filed.
Most cases settle at or shortly after the Conciliation Conference.
If no settlement is reached at the Conciliation Conference stage, unless the Application is withdrawn, the Application will usually proceed to be heard by a Fair Work Commission Member by way of a formal hearing. This will involve the preparation of witness statements and submissions, and is a more adversarial process. Following a hearing, the Fair Work Commission will publish a Judgment on their website.
How is Compensation for Unfair Dismissal calculated?
Compensation for unfair dismissal always depends on the facts and varies from case to case.
Whilst compensation can only be considered if the Commission is satisfied that reinstatement is inappropriate, in most cases reinstatement is simply not appropriate.
Compensation cannot be awarded for shock, distress or humiliation and is capped at the amount equal to the lesser of 26 weeks remuneration and half the High Income Threshold.
When assessing the amount of compensation the Commission applies the formal set out in the case of Sprigg v Paul’s Licensed Festival Supermarket (1998) 88 IR 21, namely:
- Calculate the estimated remuneration the employee would have received if they had not been dismissed by reference to the estimated period the employee would have remained in the relevant employment but for the termination (‘the anticipated period of employment’).
- Deduct any remuneration earned by the employee since their dismissal, or which the employee could have earned if they have failed to mitigate the loss, by reference to the anticipated period of employment.
- Deduct an amount for contingencies to account for situations that may have arisen during the anticipated period of employment and which might have brought about some change in the earning capacity or earnings of the employee.
- Consider the impact of taxation and adjust the figure accordingly by deducting the tax the employee would have paid if they had received the amount as wages, then increasing that amount by the amount of tax liability to the employee on the compensation as ordered, for example, if the amount is to be taxed as an employment termination payment.
- Assess the figure against the compensation cap.
If you have any questions or would like us to bring a claim for unfair dismissal against your former employer on your behalf, please contact us as soon as possible to speak to a Specialist Employment Lawyer.