Security of Employment and Unfair Dismissal Law

Centre Member: Anna Chapman

Termination of employment law, and particularly unfair dismissal law, continues to attract much debate in Australian policy circles and more broadly. The purposes and rationales of legal regulation in this area remain incoherent. There is little consensus on what normative values ought to come into play, and how they should be weighted. Those values include the need for employers to treat workers with respect and dignity, concepts of balance and fairness, the special needs of small business, and economic factors.

Ms Anna Chapman has conducted a project over a number of years tracking the development of legal regulation in this area. In 2008 she was invited to present a paper on unfair dismissal law in an Academic Workshop titled Australian Labour Law: From 'Work Choices' to 'Fair Work'. That paper was subsequently revised for inclusion in Anthony Forsyth and Andrew Stewart (eds), Fair Work: The New Workplace Laws and the Work Choices Legacy, 2009, Federation Press.

Some aspects of the chapter were developed in a conference paper presented at the Australian Labour Law Association, Fourth Biennial Conference: Labour Law Under a Labor Government: A New Balance in the Workplace?, 14 -15 November 2008, and formed the basis of a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Fair Work Bill (submission no 135). That submission was subsequently discussed in the majority report.