The budget announcement that the Fair Work Commission (FWC) will receive an extra $5m every year may indicate an expectation that the number of claims will rise.
According to workplace relations lawyer Michael Selinger from Holding Redlich, the announcement of the additional funding is significant for employers.
The Federal Government’s anti-bullying legislation is set to commence on July 1 and will be regulated by the FWC. “When the law commences operation in July it is reasonable to expect that employers will face a very real risk of any matter being brought before the FWC then being referred to the safety regulator for investigation,” Selinger said. “If those matters are investigated by the safety regulator there will be greater exposure for employers and their directors to have significant fines imposed on them for any bullying incident.”
He added that employers should take steps now to review their current anti-bullying policies and procedures and ensure that their managers are trained in enforcing these new requirements.
Other spending measures include a continuation of extra funding for the FWO to deal with the national IR system ($6.3m to $6.5m a year) and $840,000 to $860,000 a year for the agency to monitor and enforce employer compliance with Subclass 457 Visa conditions.
What’s more, the extra spending will increase the FWC's average staffing level from 321 in 2012-13 to 353 in 2013-14.