ADR and Industrial Tribunals: Innovations and Challenges in Resolving Individual Workplace Grievances
journal contributionposted on 29.10.2019, 09:05 by Therese MacDermott;Joellen Riley
This paper analyses the dispute resolution practices of the federal industrial tribunal in dealing with individual workplace grievances, and examines the way in which these practices are changing and evolving, particularly under contemporary pressures to find more informal and cost-effective methods of dispute resolution. It is based on interviews with past and present federal industrial tribunal members, and draws on their observations of changes and challenges in the dispute resolution methods for resolving individual workplace grievances. The paper concentrates on three principal areas. First, it evaluates whether changes in the legislative scheme have had an impact on conciliation as the dominant mode of dispute resolution. Secondly, it examines how the way in which the tribunal exercises its dispute resolution powers to deal with individual workplace grievances over unfair dismissals has changed in two significant respects. Fair Work Australia has appointed a significant number of qualified and experienced mediators to conduct conciliation conferences, instead of members of Fair Work Australia, and the primary method of conducting these conferences is now by telephone rather than in person. The final area of dispute resolution practices that this paper deals with is ‘adverse action’ claims brought under the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the challenges that arise for Fair Work Australia in seeking to resolve such disputes.