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Industrial manslaughter progresses in the Northern Territory and Western Australia

Following our recent updates regarding the introduction of workplace manslaughter laws in Victoria (see our blog article here) and proposed legislative changes in New South Wales (see our blog article here), there have now been further developments, with industrial manslaughter laws being passed in the Northern Territory (NT) and proposed in Western Australia as part … Continue reading

Don’t be so reckless – Employer convicted in first successful safety prosecution for bullying under the harmonised WHS Act

Safe Work Australia has recently revealed that the number of serious workplace injuries related to bullying and harassment has nearly doubled in Australia since 2009.  Mental health-related  claims that involve workplace harassment or bullying are skyrocketing, with about a quarter of all psychological claims based on allegations of workplace harassment or bullying.  In the 2019/20 … Continue reading

Wrong interpretation of industrial agreement leads to successful underpayment claim for 150 workers

The Federal Court of Australia recently decided in favour of a representative proceeding (more commonly known as a ‘class action’) brought on behalf of approximately 150 workers, and backed by the Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Maritime Employees Union against Thiess Pty Ltd, on the question of payment for travel time at the end of a … Continue reading

New South Wales responds to Marie Boland Review recommendations

New South Wales has introduced a WHS Amendment Bill (Bill) in response to the recommendations of the Marie Boland report issued in February 2019 (see our blog article here regarding the Marie Boland review). The changes, if passed, will commence on the day they receive royal assent. The Bill proposes to: increase maximum penalties (with … Continue reading

Workplace manslaughter legislation introduced in Victoria (Part 3)

Bill update As reported in earlier articles on this blog, the Victorian Legislative Assembly has heard the second reading speech of the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2019 (Vic) (the Bill) and passed the Bill on 14 November 2019. The Bill was sent to the Legislative Council on 14 November 2019 … Continue reading

Employee dismissed following long term absence due to mental illness: Federal Court finds it lawful

In an important decision last month, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia upheld the appeal of an employer who claimed, in dismissing a client executive who had been absent from work for 7 months due to mental health issues, it had acted lawfully and not dismissed him because of his illness.[1] The … Continue reading

Workplace manslaughter legislation introduced in Victoria (Part 2)

Yesterday, 30 October 2019, the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2019 (Vic) (the Bill) received its second reading speech in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. The Bill, if passed, provides for the new offence of ‘workplace manslaughter’ to come into operation on a day to be proclaimed or on 1 July … Continue reading

Industrial Manslaughter laws introduced to Victorian parliament today

As reported in our earlier article (found here), the Victorian government announced in 2018 that it would introduce an industrial manslaughter offence. The Minister for Workplace Safety, The Hon Jill Hennessy, today announced that new ‘workplace manslaughter’ laws were introduced in Parliament. The Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and other matters) Bill 2019 has … Continue reading

First Industrial Manslaughter prosecution in Queensland

On Friday the Minister for Industrial Relations announced the first prosecution in Queensland for industrial manslaughter under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (the Act). The industrial manslaughter prosecution has been brought against Brisbane Auto Recycling Pty Ltd (Brisbane Auto) arising from the fatality of a worker killed by a reversing forklift on … Continue reading

Shining the spotlight on dust lung disease in Queensland: a regulatory response for the resources industry

Since 2015, Queensland’s resources industry has been shaken by the re-emergence of dust lung diseases, largely among the State’s large coal mining workforce.  So far, more than 130 workers have been diagnosed with incurable forms of lung disease across Australia, resulting in 6 Queensland deaths in the past 12 months.[1] The State Government has responded … Continue reading

Not-for-profit organisations bound by the whistleblowing regime

From 1 July 2019, not-for-profit incorporated organisations that meet the definition of a “trading or financial corporation” must comply with the corporate sector whistleblower regime in Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act). What entities are obliged to comply with the new whistleblowing regime? The new whistleblower regime applies to “regulated entities”, … Continue reading

The WHS Response to psychological health and a PCBU’s obligations

Psychosocial hazards and work-related stresses are amongst the most challenging workplace health and safety issues. In recent times, there has been an increased focus by WHS regulators on ‘mentally healthy’ workplaces. Organisations are expected to have appropriate systems in place to eliminate or reduce psychosocial hazards, such as bullying and harassment, to effectively respond to … Continue reading

Marie Boland’s Review of the Work Health and Safety Laws, Part 3: Safe Work Australia‘s Consultation Regulation Impact Statement

On 24 June 2019, Safe Work Australia released a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) seeking feedback on the possible impacts of implementing the recommendations of the Marie Boland independent review of the model Work Health and Safety Laws final report (Report). In February this year, Marie Boland (former Executive Director of SafeWork SA) delivered the Report which found the model … Continue reading

Crouch, bind, set: Folau to tackle Rugby Australia in the Federal Court

The termination of Israel Folau’s $4m playing contract has set the scrum for a Federal Court case which is likely to shape the landscape of religious expression and vilification in the employment context. Background Folau’s controversial “warning” on Instagram stated that “Hell awaits” those who are “homosexuals … thieves and atheists”, among others, telling them … Continue reading

Keeping your finger(print) on the pulse:  Employer’s warned of the risks associated with the collection of biometric data

The everyday use of biometric technology in contemporary society is nothing new. We live in a world where we regularly use fingerprint recognition for home security, facial recognition to open our phones and voice recognition to ask Siri to spice up a party by playing the latest Taylor Swift tune.  Despite the significant advancements and … Continue reading

Australian minimum wage to be increased by 3% to $19.49 per hour from 1 July 2019

The Fair Work Commission has determined to award Australian workers a 3% increase on minimum wages. In the Annual Wage Review Decision handed down today, the Fair Work Commission has determined that from 1 July 2019: The national minimum wage and modern award minimum wages are to be increased by 3%. The national minimum wage … Continue reading

New laws in force to prevent “sharp corporate practices” of employers in avoiding payment of employee entitlements

The Corporations Amendment (Strengthening Protections for Employee Entitlements) Act 2019 (Act) received Royal Assent on 5 April 2019.[1]  The Act amends Part 5.8A of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) to discourage the use of “sharp corporate practices” used by employers to avoid paying employee entitlements when their business enters winding up, including improper … Continue reading

New code of practice for managing the mental health of FIFO workers

The Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, in conjunction with the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health and the Mining Industry Advisory Committee, has released a Code of Practice “Mentally healthy workplaces for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in the resources and construction sectors” (Code).[1]  The Code recommends implementing a risk-based approach to … Continue reading

New whistleblowing laws require a compliant policy

Amendments to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) take effect from 1 July 2019 ushering in significant changes to Australia’s whistleblowing laws.[1] Chief among the key changes is a requirement on public companies and large proprietary companies[2] to have a compliant whistleblowing policy by 1 January 2020. A failure … Continue reading

Marie Boland’s Review of the Work Health and Safety Laws, Part 2: current status of industrial manslaughter provisions around Australia

As reported in an earlier article on this blog, Marie Boland (former Executive Director of SafeWork SA) undertook the first review of the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws and delivered her report on 25 February 2019 (Report). The Report concluded that the model WHS laws are operating as intended and the “three-tier framework” … Continue reading

Queensland director’s ‘flagrant disregard’ for safety methods leads to custodial sentence following reckless conduct conviction

Earlier this year Gary Lavin and his company Multi-Run Roofing Pty Ltd (Multi-Run Roofing) were found guilty by a jury of reckless conduct under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (the Act), following the death of a worker in July 2014. Mr Lavin was sentenced to 12 months in prison (suspended after 4); … Continue reading
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