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.
Ongoing criminal matters
In determining whether a civil matter interferes with a defendant in a criminal matter's right to silence the following relevant factors may be considered:
- the possibility of publicity reaching and influencing jurors in the criminal matter
- the proximity of the criminal hearing
- the possibility of a miscarriage of justice
- the burden on the defendant of preparing for both the civil and the criminal matters
- whether the defendant has already disclosed his defence to the criminal allegations.
The principles within McMahon v Gould have been questioned in subsequent judgments but the decision has not been overturned.
 Sanford v Austin Clothing Company Pty Ltd trading as Gaz Man, Print S8287 (AIRC, Watson SDP, 19 July 2000) at para. 26.
 Sanford v Austin Clothing Company Pty Ltd trading as Gaz Man, Print S8287 (AIRC, Watson SDP, 19 July 2000) at para. 31; summarising the relevant principles from McMahon v Gould (1982) 7 ACLR 202.
 Sanford v Austin Clothing Company Pty Ltd trading as Gaz Man, Print S8287 (AIRC, Watson SDP, 19 July 2000) at para. 28; citing McMahon v Gould (1982) 7 ACLR 202.
 McMahon v Gould (1982) 7 ACLR 202, 206.
 See for example Baker v CMR of Federal Police (2000) 104 FCR 359 ‒; Yuill v Spedley Securities Ltd (in liq) (1992) 8 ACSR 272 (Kirby P).