Redundancy in focus

A RECENT decision by the full bench of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission has brought the issue of payments for redundant employees back into focus.

In the Epath v Adriansz case the commission ruled that the redundant employee was eligible for compensation because the employer’s decision to not pay severance pay rendered the dismissal unfair.

However, the employee was not entitled, in terms of his contract, to a severance payment.

Minter Ellison partner Andrew Burnett said an Industrial Appeal Court decision last year had found that there was no such thing as an implied redundancy clause in an employment contract.

“What the WAIRC has said is that if it thinks that it was unfair that the person was dismissed without severance pay then it will award compensation,” he said.

“It hasn’t specified redundancy payments but the decision puts back into play the issue of compensation for redundancy.”

Mr Burnett said the WAIRC’s finding would not apply in cases where the employee was working under an award or contract that had a redundancy clause within it.

“It only applies outside these categories but there are a lot of people in this situation,” he said.

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