Employment and Labour law continues to be a frequently litigated and ever changing area of law in Australia. For some years most employees have been governed by the federal system, with some notable exceptions in Western Australia and many state public sector employees who still operate under state legislative regimes. At the federal level, the majority of employment litigation takes place before Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal, the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

In the previous financial year there were 14,624 unfair dismissal applications to the FWC with the vast majority (79%) resolved at conciliations held in the Commission. General protections applications concerning dismissal were fewer in number with only 3,382 filed in the same financial year.

Unfair dismissal applications remain the most popular type of application and continue to be a significant risk exposure for employers of all industries and sizes. In this update we look at key learnings from recent cases before the FWC including appealing a FWC Full Bench decision, requests for time extensions for unfair dismissal applications, and the misrepresentation of an employment with an independent contractor known as sham contracting.

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Article by David Lee, Laura Sowden and Elizabeth Newman of Clyde & Co