Written by Workers Compensation Report editor Peter Angelopoulos
A SA State Budget paper, tabled on July 7, has flagged the SA Employment Tribunal’s (ET) proposed targets for 2016-17 include its “jurisdictional expansion”.
WCR understands a policy document circulated to stakeholders for feedback and consultation proposes “rolling the functions” of the Industrial Relations Court, the Industrial Relations Commission and the Dust Diseases jurisdiction into the ET.
“These jurisdictions, dealing with employment and industrial matters, consolidated within the ET, will support the delivery of consistent and efficient resolution of employment-related disputes for workers and employers”, the policy document said.
The “current arrangements for work, health and safety prosecutions” would continue to be performed by magistrates, the policy document said.
It also proposed the SA Government transfer other employment-related jurisdictions to the ET that were originally planned to move to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Those included the Health Practitioners Tribunal, the Teachers Appeal Board and the employment-related functions of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.
A spokesperson for Attorney-General and industrial relations minister John Rau confirmed to WCR it was “expected the ET will become the tribunal which hears most employment-related claims and disputes”.
“Currently, discussions are being held with stakeholders and interested parties about potential legislation to achieve this reform.”
The spokesperson said “SA wants an efficient, effective and modern system for dispute resolution”.
Other targets revealed in the Budget papers for the ET included implementing a new case management system with an electronic portal for improved customer access.
It also said the govt would continue to improve the delivery of dispute resolution services by implementing a continuous improvement process.
DP, Rau flagged new litigation stream
Last year, ET Deputy President (DP) Steven Dolphin told an SA Law Society briefing there was “an expectation” the tribunal would manage more than just state workers’ compensation litigation.
DP Dolphin said ET was “designed to manage employment litigation, whether that be injury matters or individual or collective disputes”.
DP Dolphin said, “as the only current jurisdiction is w/comp, the ET Rules reflect that fact. The Rules have been written in such a way that when further streams are created then additional specific Rules for each stream can be generated”.
Indeed SA Attorney-General Rau flagged the additional remit in 2014.
Rau said the “ET has the potential to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for employment-related matters. I expect a further stream or streams of the tribunal may be established during the course of 2015, consequent upon other possible reforms”.
(This story first ran in Workers Compensation Report 1072, 11 July 2016)
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