Two Fair Work Commission decisions in the last five weeks warn of the serious consequences of signing a false statutory declaration when applying for approval of an enterprise agreement.
In deciding to dismiss the CFMMEU’s applications for approval of two construction industry enterprise agreements on 31 July 2018, Commissioner McKinnon found that the largely identical content of two Form F17 statutory declarations, signed on behalf of two separate employers using the CFMMEU’s template responses, “creates reasonable grounds for concern about the reliability of the information provided.”
Holding that she could not be satisfied that mandatory pre-approval steps had been taken in relation to the agreements, or that the agreements had been genuinely agreed to by employees, the Commissioner dismissed both applications, also warning that it is a serious matter and a criminal offence for a person to intentionally make a false statement in a statutory declaration, or to assist another person to do so.
Commissioner McKinnon’s decision followed an earlier ruling of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission on 29 June 2018, in which the Commission overturned the approval of an enterprise agreement, finding that the approval had been based on the contents of a false statutory declaration sworn by a HR Manager, supported by a separate statutory declaration of a union official. Both declarations were referred to the Australian Federal Police for further investigation.
Despite any pressure to do so, signing an incorrect declaration is a serious matter and never a good idea. A person who intentionally makes a false statement in a statutory declaration, or aids or abets another person doing so, risks being sentenced to up to 4 years’ imprisonment.
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