The Protecting Vulnerable Workers Bill has become law: what your business needs to know (and do)

By Lisa Anaf, Partner and Diana Diaz, Senior Associate  After some tweaks in the Senate, the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 (the Bill) was passed. Now that the Bill is law, we have summarised some of the key changes to the Fair Work Act 2009, along with some practical steps that you
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The Fair Work Ombudsman is pursuing directors, HR managers, contractors and franchisors

By Lisa Anaf, Partner In the last 12 months we have seen an significant increase in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s efforts to pursue directors and managers (including HR and payroll managers) for their involvement in contraventions of the Fair Work Act’s accessorial liability provisions. The full article available here, will provide you with a summary of
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The Fair Work Commission cuts penalty rates: What it means for your business

By Lisa Anaf, Partner and Eleanor Downie, Lawyer  In a historic ruling, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (the FWC) has decided to reduce penalty rates across a number of Awards in the hospitality and retail industries. The awards affected by the FWC’s decision are as follows: Fast Food Industry Award 2010 (Fast
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Workers Narrowly Escape Death as Gate Spears Motor Vehicle at Entrance to Mine Site

This Information Release produced last week by the NSW Department of Industry Resources Regulator is a timely reminder that poor and wet weather conditions are a well-known risk to the mining and construction industries, as well as to the general public. It demonstrates the risks associated with driving a motor-vehicle in bad weather, and the
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The Joys of Being a Boss…

Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety Special Counsel Shelley-Anne Brace was recently published in Plumbing Connection. In her three-part article, “The Joys of Being a Boss“, she discusses multiple workplace topics. “Swearing Like a Tradie” talks about making appropriate language choices in the workplace, focussing on tradesman worksites. “Big Brother is Watching” talks about surveillance cameras at
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Interpretation of Union Rules

By Daniel White, Special Counsel  The approach to interpretation of union membership eligibility rules is changing. Unions are now also seeking to use the enterprise agreement making process to expand their coverage into “new turf” creating risks of costly demarcation disputes in the workplace. Click here to access a copy of a paper prepared by Daniel
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The Fair Work Ombudsman is coming after directors, HR managers, contractors and franchisors

By Lisa Anaf, Partner, and Diana Diaz, Senior Associate In a speech to a New South Wales Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) network last week, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Natalie James, spoke candidly about the Ombudsman’s “active and evolving approach to accessorial liability” for breaches of workplace laws.[1] As HR professionals would know, the
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Unblemished work histories and unfair dismissal claims – A lost cause for employers?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel. Consider this scenario, the employment of a worker with a lengthy and unblemished work history is terminated. It is alleged that the conduct leading to the termination involved the worker engaging in verbally abusive conduct towards a co-worker. Is it the case that the worker in question will likely succeed
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The End of the Line – Genuine Redundancy and Redeployment

If it is apparent that an employer no longer requires a particular position to be done by anyone because of changes in operational requirements, how should it look at proceeding with a redundancy? Can unfair dismissal applications come into play if matters are not handled carefully? There matters were recently examined by the Fair Work
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Fair Work Commission announces a 2.4% minimum wage increase

By Lisa Anaf, Partner, and Diana Diaz, Senior Associate The Fair Work Commission’s expert panel has finalised its annual wage review for the year and handed down a decision to increase minimum wages. Before the panel arrived at its decision, the Australian Government had submitted that “the Panel should take a cautious approach, taking into
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“My Brother’s Keeper?” – Complaints in relation to employment

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel If a complaint is made by a worker in relation to their employment, and the finding is not to the worker’s liking, might they be in a position to bring a claim against their employer? Does the complaint need to have been brought by the employee themselves? What sorts of
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Bad Language and Unfair Dismissal

Will the use of bad and potentially abusive language justify the termination of a worker’s employment? Will such a termination always be considered to be “fair”? These matters were considered recently by the Fair Work Commission in the matter of Treen. The facts In this matter, workers of the employer were in the process of
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Length of Service, transferring employees and unfair dismissal – Part Two

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel  In the Mills Oakley, Workplace Relations, Employment & Safety alert published in April this year, we reported on the Fair Work Commission’s (Commission) decision in Vosper (see article here). Commissioner Roe found that the failure by the worker’s new employer in a transfer of business situation, to formally advise the worker in
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Lawful and Reasonable Directions and Unfair Dismissal – Are employers protected?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel A worker is required to follow a direction by their employer that confidentiality be maintained during an investigation. The direction ensures that communications in relation to the associated complaint can only be made to certain people and in certain ways. Are such directions “lawful and reasonable”? Will a breach of
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“On the Road Again” – Bullying complaints in the Fair Work Commission

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel Does the fact that a worker has not worked for an employer for a period of time stop a bullying complaint proceeding in the Fair Work Commission? What should employers do to mitigate the risks of complaints to the Commission being made? These matters were recently considered by the Commission
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Length of service, transferring employees and unfair dismissal

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel A worker’s employment continues with a new employer following the sale or transfer of a business. Will the length of employment with the previous employer be considered as service with the new employer in relation to that employee having access to the statutory unfair dismissal jurisdiction? These matters were recently
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Breaching the “Golden Rules” and termination of employment

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel Can a worker’s employment be terminated for a breach of safety policies? Are workers entitled to have a support person of their choice present at discussions related to their dismissal? The Fair Work Commission (the Commission) recently considered these matters in Hanley. The Facts The employer employed the worker as
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Illness and Termination – What are the risks?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel  How should employers deal with workers who are ill or incapacitated? What are some of the risks employers might face if they proceed to terminate a worker’s employment in these circumstances? And can individuals involved in these types of decisions face separate penalties? These matters were recently considered by the
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Bullying, Harassment and Psychiatric Injury – What should employers do?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel Where can workplace bullying and harassment lead? What impacts can it have on not only the victim, but on the employer and the workplace? These matters were recently examined in the Supreme Court of Victoria decision in Mathews. The Facts The worker was employed by the employer for a period
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Beware the Engaging of ‘Contractors’ – ‘Sham Arrangements’ and the Fair Work Act

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel  Can my business engage ‘contractors’ who might otherwise work as its employees? Does potential liability shift if those ‘contractors’ are on-hired to my business by a third party? If it should not be done, what are the consequences? These matters were recently dealt with by the High Court of Australia.
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‘False Complaints’ and Unfair Dismissal

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel If a complaint made by an employee about another employee is found to be false, is this a valid reason for dismissal? What type of scrutiny do external reports have to come under before they are relied upon to take action against an employee? And if the reports are not
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Cooking up a Storm? Workplace Bullying and Investigations

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel With time passing, the Fair Work Commission has now handed down a number of decisions concerning its jurisdiction to deal with complaints of workplace bullying. What has the Commission said about the type of “unreasonable behaviour” that might give rise to a complaint? How should complaints be investigated? These issues
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The Redundancy Trap: Failing to Consult

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel If a worker’s position is likely to be made redundant, is the redundancy process straightforward? Do you need to consult with the worker before making their position redundant? And if so, what are the consequences if you do not? These matters were recently examined by the Fair Work Commission. The
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Update – Liability for HR Managers – Being “involved” in Fair Work Act contraventions

In our Alert of July this year, we reported on the Federal Circuit Court decision in Cerin v. ACI Operations and Others (see article). You may recall that in this matter, not only was it found that the employer had contravened section 44 of the Fair Work Act by failing to give a worker five
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The Sins of the Father – Personal liability for Fair Work Act Breaches

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel As discussed in previous alerts, those “involved” in various contraventions of the Fair Work Act can face personal liability, apart from any liability that is assigned to an employer. What happens, however, in situations where company directors and managers are held to be “involved” in such breaches? Are they responsible
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And There’s The Rub – Expense Claims, Serious Misconduct and Termination of Employment

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel If a worker claims work-related expenses, which are not legitimate, can this automatically provide grounds for an employer to terminate the employment for serious misconduct? This matter was recently considered by the Fair Work Commission. The Facts In the recent decision in Mohaptra v. Acciona Energy, the worker claimed that he had
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The Hazards of Christmas Parties and What to Do About Them

By Clayton Payne The “silly season” is just about to get into full swing. It’s a good time for most, but what if things go wrong? More than ever, employers and HR professionals need to be mindful of the potential risks. When matters take a turn for the worse, employers in particular can be exposed
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Facebook “De-friending” and Workplace Bullying – Can one lead to the other?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel Can “de-friending” someone on Facebook amount to workplace bullying? This matter was recently examined by the Fair Work Commission. In Roberts, the worker alleged that two co-workers bullied her at work. As a result, the worker sought “stop bullying” orders from the Fair Work Commission. The claims related to work
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Why was the Fireman Fired? Community Service Activities and Adverse Action

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel The Fair Work Act provides that companies and individuals can be held liable for compensation orders and penalties if they take adverse action against a worker for having, exercising, or not exercising, etc., a “workplace right”. This adverse action could include altering an employee’s position to their prejudice or dismissing
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Workplace Gossip – Does it amount to Bullying?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel As discussed in previous alerts, the Fair Work Commission has the ability to deal with certain workplace bullying complaints, and in some circumstances, to make “stop bullying” orders. In order to be “bullied at work”, the legislation states that the worker in question (or a group of workers of which
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Fair Work Ombudsman Audit Campaign – Your Survival Guide

By Lisa Anaf, Partner and Diana Diaz, Senior Associate Spot checks for businesses in Victoria, Perth and Adelaide The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced that over the next three months it will be targeting specific suburbs and States for random spot checks of businesses to undertake compliance audits. The Ombudsman, Natalie James, has identified the
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“Stop Bullying” Orders – Does the Behaviour Need to be “Repeated”?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel Does bullying behaviour need to be repeated to enable the Fair Work Commission to make “stop bullying” orders? This issue was recently dealt with by the Commission in the matter of Singh. The Facts The worker alleged that he was bullied by another employee in his workplace. The worker was
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Can a Safety Breach Justify a Summary Dismissal?

Can a worker who has engaged in misconduct, leading to a safety breach, be summarily dismissed, without adverse consequences for the employer? Is the appropriate response from the employer a matter of proportion? These matters were recently considered by the Fair Work Commission in Singh v Fenner (Australia) P/L. The Facts The worker was a
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HR Managers and Civil Penalties – Are you at Risk?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel As we discussed in a previous alert, decisions of courts such as the Federal Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court show that not only can companies as employers be exposed to civil penalty liabilities for breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act), but this also can
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First Formal Anti-Bullying Findings – Should I care?

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel As discussed in previous Alerts, for some time the Fair Work Commission has had the jurisdiction to deal with applications and make orders with respect to allegations of workplace bullying. Earlier this month, in the matter of C.F. and N.W. and Company A and E.D., the Commission handed down its
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The Pitfalls of Sexual Harassment Complaints

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel The pitfalls of sexual harassment complaints in the workplace have become increasingly evident in recent years. The media’s reports of sensational cases, as well as the increasing awards of compensation to successful claimants, have been key in bringing these issues to light. Examples of the type of behaviour which can
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Protecting Your Employees: Maintaining Confidentiality

By Clayton Payne, Special Counsel Can a party to proceedings in the Fair Work Commission seek to have confidentiality maintained over sensitive documents, even if the document is not otherwise subject to legal professional privilege? The Fair Work Commission recently considered this issue in Bowker and Others v. DP World. In this matter, Deputy President
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Unfair dismissal income cap increases to $136,700

By Lisa Anaf, Partner, and Diana Diaz, Senior Associate As of 1 July 2015, the high income threshold for the purposes of unfair dismissal applications under the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act) increased to $136,700 per annum. How does it work? If an employee is not covered by a modern award or an enterprise
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Liability for HR Managers – Being “involved” in Fair Work Act contraventions

By Clayton Payne Human Resources managers have difficult roles to fulfil. Their job often involves a balancing act between ensuring the satisfaction of workers, while at the same time, ensuring that the employer’s best interests are served. What happens if a decision is made by a human resources manager which, while potentially serving the employer’s
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Mind Your Language: The importance of consistency

By Clayton Payne Are racially motivated barbs acceptable in the modern workplace? What if a worker engages in this behaviour? And should all complaints, no matter who is making them, be treated in a consistent manner? Such matters were recently dealt with by the Fair Work Commission in Johnpulle v. Toll Holdings Ltd. In this
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The Importance of Carefully Drafting Policies

By Clayton Payne Does my business take the drafting of policies seriously? Who is responsible for drafting those polices? Do they need to be considered by a lawyer? What if following a policy leads to an unintended contractual breach or breach of legislation? These issues were recently examined by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
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Fair Work Commission announces 2.5% minimum wage increase, effective 1 July

By Lisa Anaf, Partner and Diana Diaz, Senior Associate The Fair Work Commission has finalised its annual wage review for the financial year 2015 / 2016 and handed down a decision to increase minimum wages. The panel decided to award what it called a “moderate” increase from the first full pay period on or after
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Avoiding Employee Entitlements – What are the penalties?

By Clayton Payne If an employer fails to provide an employee with employment based entitlements, such as annual leave or personal/carer’s leave, what type of penalties can they expect to be held liable for? The Federal Court of Australia has recently examined the nature and extent of penalties that should be ordered for an employer’s
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Reasonable Management Action or Workplace Bullying?

By Clayton Payne What are the risks if my business’ disciplinary processes with respect to employees are less than adequate? Are the processes that have been put in place, or the way that disciplinary and performance processes are carried out “reasonable”? Could they constitute workplace harassment or bullying? These issues were recently considered by the
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The Saga Continues – Are Hipsters’ Days Numbered? Part 2

By Clayton Payne The war on facial hair continues. The Supreme Court of Victoria has confirmed that certain forms of facial hair, such as beards, goatees, soul patches, long sideburns and even handlebar moustaches, are no longer welcome in the Victorian Police Force. In Kuyken v Chief Commissioner of Police, new “standards of grooming” introduced
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Are Hipsters’ Days Numbered? Appearance Policies and Safety in the Workplace

By Clayton Payne “Are Hipsters’ Days Numbered?” While this might sound like a droll and trivial question, what if an employer requires a worker to abide by certain directions relating to their physical appearance? Is such a direction or policy easier to sustain in the context of health or safety obligations? This issue was considered
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A Win for Employers – The Importance of Sound Investigations and Policies

By Clayton Payne In a March edition of this Alert (which can be found here), we reported on Qantas’ success in defending an unfair dismissal claim. This claim related to a pilot whose employment was terminated after he had been found to have inappropriately touched a colleague after a drinking session. The termination occurred in
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Queensland Set for Further IR Reforms

By Clayton Payne As foreshadowed in a previous alert, with the election of a Labor government in Queensland, the industrial relations landscape is set for another shake up. Last week, a media release was issued by the Minister for Industrial Relations, Curtis Pitt. The Minister has flagged that the following reforms, among others, will soon
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Better Get a Lawyer, Son – Legal Representation in the Fair Work Commission

By Clayton Payne Often the question arises as to whether a party can be legally represented at a formal hearing in the Fair Work Commission. Representation is not necessarily permitted as a matter of course. Normally, the Commission will consider whether such representation will allow a matter to be dealt with more efficiently. One factor
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Injured workers and adverse action – The risk for employers

As discussed in previous alerts, employers need to take extra care when deciding to discipline or terminate the employment of a worker, particularly when they have been injured. In claims brought under Part 3-1 of the Fair Work Act, a reverse onus applies. This means that if an employer is accused of taking action against
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Curiosity Didn’t Kill the Cat – General Protections Claims and Risks to Employers

By Clayton Payne Situations often arise where an employer has to consider taking action against an employee. This could include the provision of a warning, suspension, or even the termination of employment. Although it may be unconnected to the reason for deciding to take the action, what if, for example, the employee has been away
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The end of the line for Midnight Rider

By Genevieve Yates Hollywood film director Randall Miller has been sentenced to two years in jail following the death of a camera assistant on set while filming for Miller’s upcoming Midnight Rider. Appearing before a US Court earlier this month, Miller pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing. Midnight Rider’s executive producer
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Drugs, Alcohol, and the Hazards of After Work Socialising

By Clayton Payne Socialising with colleagues after work, often over a few drinks, is seen as a normal incidence of employment in Australia. However, what if someone has too much to drink and matters take a turn for the worse?  How should the employer react, and what are the other consequences which can arise? In
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The Testing Nature of Drug Use and the Workplace

By Clayton Payne Employers generally have a non-delegable duty in their activities, to ensure the health and safety of their employees and the public generally. Many employers have drug testing regimes in place to identify employees who may be placing themselves and others at risk. When such a test comes back positive to the use
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A New Government in Queensland: Work Health and Safety – What is in store?

By Clayton Payne With the election of a Labor government in Queensland, it would seem that the area of workplace health and safety may be due for another shake up. As part of its policy platform at the last State election, the ALP promised to: prioritise and improve workplace health and safety; empower Work Health
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Is Swearing a Sackable Offence?

By Clayton Payne If an employee swears at their employer, is that enough to warrant a summary termination of employment? In a recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in the matter of Smith v. Aussie Waste Management , it was held that a summary termination of employment of a truck driver who questioned
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Intern or Employee? Take Care with Intern Placements

A recent successful prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman serves as a stark reminder that the short term benefits of unpaid “interns” can have costly consequences if the “internship” continues and can be regarded more correctly as employment. The Federal Circuit Court of Australia in the matter of Fair Work Ombudsman v Crocmedia Pty Ltd
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When is a dismissal a dismissal?

By Clayton Payne Most of the time proving that a termination of employment has occurred is a straightforward affair. What happens, however, when an employee claims that they were forced into a resignation? In those circumstances, when can it be said that the termination was actually at the instigation of the employer? And how does
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Workplace Investigations – Getting them Right

By Clayton Payne Complaints that arise in workplaces can often lead to litigation. In areas such as unlawful discrimination, and sexual and workplace harassment in particular, investigations may be required. These investigations may be conducted either internally, or with the assistance of a third party, such as a lawyer. These investigations need to be handled
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Dismissals and Reinstatement – Why care should be taken.

By Clayton Payne As many of you would be aware, the primary remedy for a successful statutory unfair dismissal claim under the Fair Work Act is reinstatement. While in practice, this rarely happens, when will an order for reinstatement be made? In the recent appeal decision of a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission
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The Recruitment Process – Be Careful What You Ask For!

By Clayton Payne A recent decision of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) highlights the need for employers to carefully consider the questions that they ask of prospective employees. In Willmott v. Woolworths Limited, the Applicant lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) over questions he was asked in an online application
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Airing Dirty Laundry and Bullying Complaints – Can I Maintain Anonymity?

By Clayton Payne If my business becomes the subject of a bullying complaint in the Fair Work Commission, will any proceedings be conducted in private? Will the names of myself and the business be kept out of the public domain? A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission, has again highlighted the need for employers
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The Workplace and Personal Adornments – Where does one draw the line?

By Clayton Payne The desire of most businesses is to promote a positive image to the public. The way that this is done can vary. Many workplaces require employees to wear uniforms, and/or to be neatly attired. What about body adornments? Can an employer require that an employee refrain from displaying tattoos and body piercings?
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A costly case of sexual harassment

By Clayton Payne Sexual harassment has many impacts on those who are subjected to it, and their employers – even when those employers have not directly engaged in or condoned such behaviour. There are obvious adverse effects on an employee’s dignity and possibly their health while on the employer side, there are clear implications for
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What are the consequences if I am not paying my employees correctly?

By Clayton Payne The Fair Work Act contains minimum employment terms and conditions, known as the National Employment Standards (NES). It also establishes a framework for the implementation and operation of industrial instruments such as Modern Awards and Enterprise Agreements, which can also underpin minimum employee entitlements. What happens if an employer fails to recognise
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Is My Employee Too Old to Work?

By Clayton Payne Some employers may ask, is there a general retirement age and can I terminate someone’s employment on this basis? A recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) re-affirms that in Australia, there is no law generally which mandates retirement at a certain age, and in fact, any attempt to terminate employment
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Damages for hurt and humiliation – The added cost of adverse action claims

By Clayton Payne Can an employee be awarded compensation for hurt and humiliation on the back of a termination of employment? According to the recent Federal Circuit Court decision in Hall v. City Country Hotel Management Pty. Limited and Others, the answer is “yes”. In this case, the Applicant was employed as a “glassie” and
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Injured employees – What information can I request and when can I terminate?

By Clayton Payne What should an employer do if it is concerned that an injured worker cannot return to their previous duties? What sort of information can the employer request to take into consideration before reaching a decision? When can the employer proceed to terminate the employment? A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission
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Contractors and Sham Arrangements – Why you need to be careful.

By Clayton Payne Do you engage workers as “ABN” contractors? If so, ask yourself this question: are these people really contractors, or are they your company’s employees? Clearly if such a worker is an employee, the company engaging them may have a liability for all manner of employee entitlements. If the company engaged the workers
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Casual Employees – When do I have to offer casuals permanent employment?

By Clayton Payne Although many employers employ casual staff as a matter of convenience, can this type of engagement last indefinitely? Some employees like the idea of receiving a casual loading and may wish to remain employed on this basis. However, such preferences can clearly change, for example when the employee seeks to take out
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What is the company car worth?

By Clayton Payne In the recent decision of the Fair Work Commission in Baker v Rio Tinto Coal Australia Limited, the agreed value of a company vehicle, which was provided for part-private use, was examined in the context of whether an employee had access to a statutory unfair dismissal remedy. At the time the Applicant’s
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Construction Union Worker Entry Permit Denied

By Clayton Payne A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has shown that it is not all plain sailing for union officials seeking the right to enter workplaces. The decision by FWC Officer Chris Enright to refuse an entry permit to a CFMEU official has been affirmed on appeal by the full bench
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The Cost of Sexual Harassment

By Clayton Payne What can an act of inappropriate flirtation cost a business, and how should employers defend their staff and themselves from such incidents? In a recent decision of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal in ABC v DEF Restaurant and GHI, a restaurant worker was awarded $10,000 after she alleged that a manager of
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Employees behaving badly: When is it time to say enough is enough?

By Clayton Payne When can an employer say “enough is enough” in the context of bad behaviour? In the recent Fair Work Commission unfair dismissal decision in Grant Rikihana v Mermaid Marine Vessel Operations Pty. Ltd this issue was examined. The Applicant’s employment was terminated after he swore at his leading hand who laughed at
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Silly season antics – Do you have policies in place?

By Clayton Payne A recent decision of the Queensland Supreme Court serves as a timely reminder of what can go wrong at work Christmas parties. In Packer v Tall Ships Sailing Cruises Aust P/L & Anor [2014] QSC 212, his Honour Mr. Justice Jackson dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim that his employer breached its duty of
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Standing up to the bully – Who can be legally represented?

By Clayton Payne In a recent decision of the Fair Work Commission, the respondents to a bullying complaint were permitted legal representation at an upcoming arbitration. In the decision of H v. Centre and Others, the employer (known as ‘the Centre’) applied to have itself, and two employees named in the complaint, legally represented. By
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Be careful what you say and do – trouble in refusing Carers’ Leave

By Clayton Payne An employer has been ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 to the Transport Workers’ Union of Australia and a sum of $10,000 to a former employee, after being found to have contravened two workplace rights under the Fair Work Act. In the matter of Transport Workers’ Union of Australia v Atkins
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A million reasons to be mindful of termination notice periods

By Clayton Payne A former employee of a company has recently been awarded damages in excess of $1,000,000 after her former employer was found to have terminated her employment without giving her reasonable notice[1]. On 6 June 2011, the former employee’s employment was terminated after she declined a proposed variation to her employment contract. The
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Risky Business: How having a comprehensive workplace policy and seeking legal advice before terminating employment will save you.

By Clayton Payne A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission highlights the importance of well drafted polices in any workplace. In Arne McDonald v TNT Australia Pty Ltd T/A TNT Express, Senior Deputy President O’Callaghan decided that a former employee should be reinstated to the position he held prior to his dismissal, having concluded
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Time to Face(book) the music

By Clayton Payne Why your company needs a social media policy As the recent media attention into the alleged behaviour of a certain rugby league player has shown, individuals can pay a very high price indeed for antics on social media. Not only can misbehaviour bring the individual in question into disrepute, but it can
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Thriving Thirties at Mills Oakley as young gun collects award

Mills Oakley lawyer David Burnton is now Thane of the Thirties, having been named in the prestigious Lawyers’ Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards. The 30 Under 30 Awards recognise the finest private practice and in-house lawyers across Australia who were under 30 years at the time of judging. Three winners were named in each of 
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The FWC increases minimum wage rates

The Minimum Wage Panel of the Fair Work Commission (Panel) has decided in its annual wage review to increase the minimum wage by 2.6 percent, effective 1 July 2013. This 2.6 percent increase represents a $15.80 weekly (or $0.41 hourly) increase for full time employees.  The minimum wage will therefore be $622.20 per week or
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Severe penalties for lessees under wider asbestos regulations

In the past, responsibility for asbestos management largely fell upon the owners of buildings. That position has changed under the Federal Model Work Health & Safety legislation. The Model legislation imposes obligations on lessees of a building concerning the detection and management of asbestos containing materials in their leased premises. The obligations relate to buildings
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New gender equality reporting obligations for employers, effective 1 April 2013

The reporting regime under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth) (the Act) is now fully operational.  From the 2013–2014 reporting period, which commenced 1 April 2013, all non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees (including employees of subsidiaries) must report annually on a set of ‘gender equality indicators’ (GEIs). The new regime replaces
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Obligations and penalties for property developers, builders and owners under the national WH&S scheme

1. What is the extent of your workplace health and safety (WH&S) responsibility and liability during construction, fit out and ownership or occupation of buildings and building sites? 2. How can you mitigate liability? Regulatory Framework 1. The Workplace Health & Safety Model Act harmonising WH&S laws nationally has significant implications for property developers, builders
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Are you super compliant?

From 1 July 2013, the Superannuation Guarantee Charge Percentage increases from 9% to 9.25%. The Charge Percentage will incrementally increase each financial year thereafter until it reaches 12% by 1 July 2019. Employers must be aware of these changes to ensure they comply with their obligations under the Superannuation Guarantee Scheme (SGC) laws. Employers must
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Training programs offered by Mills Oakley

Mills Oakley is pleased to offer you a wide variety of training programs, which can be tailored to address the needs of your business. Training programs provide employers and management with an understanding of relevant obligations and promote more effective negotiation, enabling a more confident and proactive approach to managing workplace issues. Our training programs
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Anticipated Bill expected to increase burden of anti-discrimination compliance for employers

A new federal anti-discrimination Bill is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives soon, following last week’s reporting date to the Senate by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, in relation to the draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 (Draft Bill). The Draft Bill proposes to consolidate the five current federal
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The 2013 federal election employment and IR battle has begun

Even though the federal election is 7 months away, employment and industrial relations policy is already an important point of contention between the parties. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a second tranche of amendments to the Fair Work Act.  These amendments would provide increased protection for employees against sudden roster changes and a greater
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Penalties for employers rise by 50 per cent

The Federal Parliament has amended the Crimes Act increasing the value of the penalty unit from $110 to $170 for federal offences committed after 28 December 2012. For employers, the increase means significantly harsher financial penalties for contraventions of the civil remedy provisions contained in the Fair Work Act. The amended legislation also contains a
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