With more than 9 out of every 10 employers in Australia being a small business, it is important that the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) understands the needs and expectations of this stakeholder group, and optimises the way it discharges its functions to ‘work better for small business’ through the Connect & Engage consultation program.
The Connect & Engage consultation program recognised that small business people want to do the right thing, especially by their staff – the team that can contribute so much to business success. Yet it can be challenging to understand their employment obligations and to navigate employment laws and how the Commission deals with disputes that may be brought against the business.
Key recommendations that emerged from the consultation program that should be the priority areas for action include:
- Introducing early triage/filtering of unfair dismissal and general protections (adverse action) applications and active case management practices similar to the approach adopted for the anti-bullying jurisdiction (see section 3.2 of this report);
- Formation of a dedicated Small Business Division to ensure a ‘right-sizing’ of procedures and operating protocols, relevant Member and staff experience, empathy and disposition to smaller employers (see section 2.0)
- Establishing ongoing consultation channels with small business; and
- Reviewing information resources with an aim to consolidate materials and limit duplication, encourage greater consistency and predictability in the way Commission Members exercise discretion, improve accessibility for time-poor and inexperienced audiences and present information in plainer terms.
Download report: Working Better For Small Business