Paul Schneider named newest FWC commissioner

'I am confident that the appointee will execute his duties with impartiality and diligence'

Paul Schneider named newest FWC commissioner

Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash announced on Tuesday the appointment of Paul Schneider as the newest commissioner of the Fair Work Commission (FWC), who is expected to take on the role on May 2.

"On behalf of the Australian Government, I congratulate the new Commissioner on his appointment. I am confident that the appointee will execute his duties with impartiality and diligence," said the minister in a statement. 

Prior to his appointment, Schneider was the industrial relations manager of OSM Australia Pty Ltd. He also held senior human resource roles under Seven West Media, Svitzer Australia, Upstream Production Solutions, Downer EDI Mining and McDermott Australia.

As commissioner, Schneider is tasked to exercise the power of the FWC as an independent national workplace tribunal and carry out the following:

  • help employees and employers bargain in good faith and to make, vary or terminate enterprise agreements
  • deal with applications relating to ending employment including unfair dismissal, unlawful termination, or general protections
  • deal with applications for an order to stop bullying at work
  • deal with applications for an order to stop sexual harassment at work
  • make orders about industrial action, including strikes, work bans, and lock outs
  • provide mediation, conciliation, and in some cases, hold public tribunal hearings to resolve various individual and collective workplace disputes
  • make workplace determinations, hear, and decide on equal remuneration claims, and deal with applications about transfer of business, stand down, general protections and right of entry disputes

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However, not all are happy with the appointment of Schneider as the latest FWC commissioner.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) expressed disagreement with his appointment, saying that it only continues the government's long trend of stacking the FWC with former business representatives.

ACTU called out the government for not appointing a "single advocate for working people" and accused it "skewing the balance" of a commission that makes critical decisions on workplace matters.

"The appointment of Mr. Schneider, another employer representative appointed by the Morrison Government, marks this Government's 27th appointment to the Commission from an employer lobby background out of a total of 28," said ACTU Secretary Sally McManus.

"The convention of ensuring that our industrial tribunals draw from a balance of employer and employee advocates and the legal profession has been trashed by the Morrison Government," added the official.

According to McManus, the appointment only "undermines the confidence" of Australians to the FWC.

The appointment of Schneider brings the total number of FWC members from the employer side to 29, against the 16 who were advocates for workers, according to ACTU.

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