Professor Nicholas Smith v James Cook University. [2016] FWC 6010. (U2016/2766). SENIOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT RICHARDS. 14 SEPTEMBER 2016

Professor Nicholas Smith’s position was declared redundant by James Cook University, receiving a redundancy payment of some $127,000, plus payment for accrued entitlements.

Whilst this matter involved a number of aspects, I found the most interesting to be the Commission’s recognition that the University was able to change its business model, as described by the SDP:

“…the University has taken a deliberate and considered decision to better align its research resources and efforts to achieve what are its effective business objectives…approach[ing] the development of its strategic review systematically and carefully. It did this to more effectively deploy its finite resources…in which it could realistically achieve a globally competitive research effort.”

It should be noted that the University followed all its procedural obligations.

By way of commentary, this decision recognises that it is not up to the FWC to decide whether the decision taken by (in this case) the University was right, wrong or indifferent. The decision focused clearly and simply on the operational requirements of the business.

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