A number of changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 came into effect on 1 January 2013 via the Fair Work Amendment Act 2012.

Fair Work Australia is now called the Fair Work Commission (FWC), and the changes are in relation to unfair dismissals, general protections and enterprise agreements.

Some of these changes include:

  • an increase in the time limit for lodging unfair dismissal applications, from 14 days to 21 days;
  • providing the FWC with further powers to dismiss unfair dismissal applications and to make cost orders against parties, lawyers and paid agents in unfair dismissal matters. Applications may be dismissed by the FWC in circumstances where a party:
      • unreasonably failed to discontinue a proceeding;
      • unreasonably failed to agree to terms of settlement that could have led to discontinuing the application; or
      • has caused the other party to incur costs through an unreasonable act or omission.

Whilst the FWC has been given further powers to dismiss unfair dismissal applications by employees, employers still face significant challenges under the unfair dismissal regime, particularly now employees have an additional week to lodge a claim.