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Australian Law and Politics

Scrapped Work Choices Legislation and Unfair Dismissal Laws


Australian law firms are expecting the Federal government’s upcoming move to end Work Choices legislation, in favour of Labor’s new industrial relations law, will bring an influx of employment-related work. Unfair dismissal changes have historically prompted a significant number of clients to seek legal advice, according to Baker & McKenzie partner Michael Michalandos. He expects his work flow to increase if a new bill scrapping the legislation is passed by Parliament in late November. He pointed to how

“The last changes were so wide-ranging that they impacted on every employer – like dramatic changes to unfair dismissal rights in 2006. For example, employees were denied access to unfair dismissal rights if they lost their jobs on the grounds of a genuine redundancy. If these rights are reinstated, allowing employees to challenge a redundancy-based termination, then I expect that we will see an increase in this kind of work,” he said.

At the moment Michalandos has not seen a major change in the type of work he receives, such as advising on termination and restructuring, setting up executive work contracts and policies.

If the bill were passed the firm would undertake both billable and non-billable work. “Our clients would expect us to provide them with base-level information regarding the changes without charge. This would come in the form of training sessions and document summaries. However, I also expect an increase in billable work but this would be balanced against non-billable hours reviewing the legislation,” he said.

He said clients are cautious at the moment and treat redundancies as a last resort. Their first reaction is usually to review flexible work options and other forms of cost-cutting, such as job-sharing, part-time work, and reducing remuneration where necessary.

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

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