In its most recent newsletter the Law Council of Australia argued against the Federal Government’s proposal to create an independent appeal jurisdiction for the Fair Work Commission.

However the Federal Employment Minister; Eric Abetz, maintains that an independent appeals body for the Fair Work Commission is necessary in light of some recent decisions of the Fair Work Commission. 

These decisions concerned employee misconduct, but despite the Commission finding that such misconduct had occurred, the employee was still awarded compensation.

The Fair Work Act sets out the process that an employer must apply in order to avoid a successful unfair dismissal claim.  It is not enough under the current law for an employer to establish that an employee has engaged in misconduct.  The employer must also provide the employee with procedural fairness. 

There is already in place adequate appeal processes if employers feel aggrieved by the decision of a single Commissioner of the Fair Work Commission.  An appeal can be made to the Full Bench of the Commission, as long as the appeal is in the public interest.  A further appeal can be made to the Federal Court against a decision of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission.

We await the changes proposed by Minister Abetz to the appeal processes which are already in place.