Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Public Service Arbitrator – General Jurisdiction

The Public Service Arbitrator has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with industrial matters relating to government officers, using the powers of the general jurisdiction of the Commission. 

The Public Service Arbitrator can convene compulsory conferences to endeavour to resolve industrial disputes.  If the dispute is not resolved, the Arbitrator may hear and determine the matter and make legally binding orders. 

The Arbitrator also: 

  • registers and amends industrial agreements
  • makes and amends awards
  • interprets award and agreement provisions
  • deals with disputes about the level of classification of positions

Industrial matter

The ‘industrial matter’ which the Arbitrator can deal with is defined by the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA).  It has a broad definition and includes most things connected to the employment relationship.  For the full definition, see Industrial Relations Act 1979 s 7(1) ‘industrial matter’. 

There are limits on what is included in ‘industrial matter’.  See Re Harrison; Ex Parte Hames [2015] WASC 247

See also Hotcopper Australia Ltd v Saab [2002] WASCA 190 [24] – [25]. 

What the Arbitrator’s general jurisdiction does not deal with

The Public Sector Management Act 1994, particularly s 78, provides for certain matters relating to government officers to be referred to the Public Service Appeal Board and other matters to the Commission, but not the Public Service Arbitrator.  Also note that decisions to dismiss government officers (Industrial Relations Act 1979 s 80G(1), s 80I(1)(d)) and decisions relating to substandard performance or disciplinary matters, should be referred to the Public Service Appeal Board (s 80E(7)(b)). 

The Commission, rather than the Arbitrator, may deal with a claim that, in deciding to register a government officer for redeployment or in deciding to redeploy a government officer, the employer unfairly and improperly applied the regulations relating to redeployment (Public Sector Management Act 1994 s 95).  However, neither the Commission nor the Arbitrator may decide whether a government officer should or should not be registered, redeployed or made redundant (Industrial Relations Act 1979 s 80E(7) and Public Sector Management Act 1994 s 97). 

Contact Us

Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission
17th Floor
111 St Georges Terrace

Phone : (08) 9420 4444
Facsimile : (08) 9420 4500
Free Call : 1800 624 263

Free Fax :1800 804 987

Email : Registry


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