Parties to matters before the Fair Work Commission may apply to have the matter adjourned.
There should be no presumption that an adjournment will be granted. The principles in relation to adjourning (or staying) proceedings are as follows:
- a party to a matter before the Commission has a right to have the matter determined as quickly as possible
- serious consideration needs to be given before any action interferes with this right
- the party who applies for the adjournment must prove that it is necessary
- a party is not automatically entitled to an adjournment because they are involved in a criminal hearing, and
- an application for an adjournment must be determined on its own merits.
The Commission's task is a 'balancing of justice between the parties' taking all relevant factors into account.
An adjournment of an unfair dismissal application will only occur if there are substantial grounds for the adjournment application.
Examples where a request for an adjournment may be granted include:
- where illness of the applicant or a significant person in the respondent's business or a witness would prevent them from attending a proceeding – a medical certificate must be provided by the requesting party to substantiate the request
- unavailability of a representative that started acting for a party before the application was listed for hearing
- death or serious injury of a family member of an applicant, a significant person in the respondent's business or a witness, or
- where the applicant, a significant person in the respondent's business, a witness or a representative will be interstate or overseas and the travel was booked before the application was listed for hearing – the Commission may ask for proof that the booking was made prior to the matter being listed for hearing.
The other party will be asked to comment on the adjournment request prior to a decision being made by the Commission.