Fair Work unfair dismissal claims have not increased despite vaccine mandates: Report

vaccine-status vaccine mandates

A vaccine being administrated. Source: Unsplash/CDC.

Public servants at the Fair Work Commission might have been spared a flood of unfair dismissal applications related to vaccine mandates, but a new committee report suggests they should brace themselves for things to get busy.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training report into the work of the commission covers the regulator’s response to coronavirus-related workplace issues and found there was no increase in unfair dismissal cases.

Committee chair Andrew Laming said the vaccine mandates were put in place to protect people in settings where transmission was a high risk, but there were many Australians who lost their jobs because they did not want to have the COVID-19 vaccination.

“The issue of vaccine mandates is polarising, and it is likely the commission will need to deal with further unfair dismissal applications and workplace disputes relating to vaccine mandates going forward,” Laming said.

The report states the Fair Work Commission did a small sample manual audit of unfair dismissal complaints lodged between September 29 and 17 November 17, 2021, that mentioned vaccine mandates.

“The audit revealed that most of the applications concerned unfair dismissal, but the number of unfair dismissal cases referencing COVID-19 vaccinations in the period only equated to approximately 10% of all unfair dismissal applications, based on 2020-21 figures,” the report says.

“Notably, the audit found that unfair dismissal applications had not increased as a result of vaccine-related issues and the commission had not experienced an increased caseload above their baseline during this period.”

The Fair Work Commission told the committee that the various grace periods employees in different sectors had to get themselves vaccinated would eventually end and that the enforcement of mandates once the vaccination deadlines hit could spark a greater number of applications.

“The commission indicated that issues relating to mandatory vaccination are most likely to arise in the context of applications relating to unfair dismissals and general protections involving or not involving dismissal,” the report says.

This article was first published by The Mandarin.

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