Last month the Fair Work Commission (FWC) tabled its Annual Report for 2014/15 (Report) in Federal Parliament, a copy of which can be accessed here.

One aspect of note to be gleaned from the data within the Report is a continuation in the shift in the FWC’s workload away from more traditional collective dispute resolution work towards individual dispute resolution.  In this regard, the numbers of individuals bringing applications before the FWC is on the rise.  For example, the Report outlines that during the 2014-15 reporting period:

  • a total of 34,152 applications were lodged with the FWC;
  • the greatest proportion of the applications remain unfair dismissal applications which account for 8% of all applications received;
  • the number of applications by individuals believing they have been dismissed in contravention of the general protections provisions has increased by 5% from 2012-13 to 2013-14 (which also accounts for 9.9% of all applications received); and
  • the FWC website received more than 150,000 unique website hits regarding anti-bullying, and processed 694 applications for an order to stop bullying.

By way of contrast, with respect to the more traditional collective dispute resolution work, the Report notes that:

  • applications in respect of disputes under agreements or awards fell by 6% in 2014-15 compared to the previous reporting year; and
  • applications relating to industrial action also decreased with 4% fewer applications made in the 2014-15 reporting period when compared with the previous reporting period, and 32.6% fewer when compared with industrial action applications made in the 2011-12 reporting period.

In response to this shift away from collective dispute resolution, the FWC is modifying its own focus to more alternative dispute resolution models and to a preventative approach to dispute resolution, where appropriate. An example of this is the general protections telephone conciliation pilot programme.

Requests for further information and feedback about this Report can be made via the following email: