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Caution for employers: redundancy entitlement when employer changes employment conditions and employee continues working for their employer

The Federal Court of Australia (FCA) recently considered this issue in Broadlex Services Pty Ltd v United Workers’ Union [2020] FCA 867,[1] holding that an employee who was required to transfer her full-time employment to part-time was entitled to redundancy pay, because the employer no longer required the full-time job to be performed by anyone.

Facts

On 1 May 2014, Broadlex Services Pty Ltd (Employer) hired Ms Brizitka Vrtkovski (Employee) as a full-time cleaner.

On 15 August 2017 the Employer informed the Employee that “due to consideration of work flow an Continue Reading

Victoria’s wage theft legislation

On 16 June 2020, the Victorian Parliament passed the Wage Theft Bill 2020 in response to a series of high-profile underpayment cases.  The prevalence of these underpayments, according to Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy, indicates that the civil penalty regime under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is failing to provide a sufficient deterrent against wage theft.  Victoria’s answer to wage theft – meaning the dishonest underpayment of employees – is to introduce criminal liability as a deterrent and establish a new body to investigate and prosecute wage theft offences.… Continue Reading

Can injuries sustained working from home, including death, be considered to have occurred in the course of employment?

The Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of New South Wales considered this issue in Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer v Hill [2020] NSWCA 54,[1] confirming that a death which happened while working from home occurred as a result of injury arising out of and in the course of the deceased’s employment.… Continue Reading

The Miscellaneous Award now has greater reach

On 12 February 2020 the Fair Work Commission (Commission) amended the Miscellaneous Award 2010 with effect from 1 July 2020. The changes extend the coverage of this Award to traditionally award-free employees with potentially far reaching consequences for some employers.… Continue Reading

Sometimes it isn’t about the destination: Journey-claims and the associated risks for employers

Most employers are conscious of their health and safety obligations for when employees are at work, but what about employer obligations to employees travelling to and from work?  A recent New South Wales decision highlights the importance of employers taking a holistic approach to fatigue management both within and outside of the workplace.… Continue Reading

Temporary variations to the Hospitality and Clerks modern awards in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has acted on applications made by employer associations and unions by varying a number of awards to introduce temporary flexibility provisions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated public health orders. These important measures aim to provide employers with the flexibility to resource their businesses appropriately in the current climate whilst maintaining compliance with the applicable modern award, allowing them to continue active operations and retain employees.… Continue Reading

Australian Human Rights Commission – Respect@Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has recently released its ‘Respect@Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces’ report (Report) in response to the decision in June 2018 by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, and the then Minister for Women, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer, to launch the independent national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces (Inquiry).… Continue Reading

Coronavirus and Discrimination: The balance between protecting the workforce and community and avoiding unlawful discrimination  

Last week a Malaysian student of Chinese descent returned to her rented home in Perth’s southern suburbs after visiting family in Malaysia for a few weeks. Upon arriving home, she found the locks had been changed and a handwritten sign was on the door, notifying her she was no longer welcome in the house given the coronavirus “emergency”.… Continue Reading

Australia – What to look out for in employment law in 2020

2019 saw many legislative and jurisprudential developments in employment law which should be top of mind for employers moving forward in 2020.  In this article, we summarise the main issues to watch in 2020.

The underpayment crisis – “wage theft”

The recent spate of very public self-reported wage underpayments by businesses has resulted in increased scrutiny into “wage theft”.  The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), for example, has prioritised issues of wage underpayment and non-compliance with awards and the National Employment Standards (NES).  The FWO will also take a stronger approach to enforcement in relation to non-compliance, … Continue Reading

Australia – Things to look out for in WHS law in 2020

This blog identifies developments in WHS law to watch in 2020:

Industrial Manslaughter Offences

The number of Australian jurisdictions with industrial manslaughter offences in operation will expand this year. Currently, the ACT and Queensland are the only states with such legislation in operation.

The Victorian law, the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and other matters) Bill 2019 will come into force on 1 July 2020 (potentially earlier), while the Northern Territory legislature has passed similar amendments introducing industrial manslaughter offences to commence operation later in the year but with a date yet to be fixed. Industrial manslaughter laws were … Continue Reading

Taking it a day at a time

Section 96 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) provides that “for each year of service with his or her employer, an employee [excluding casual employees] is entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave”.  This entitlement accrues progressively during a year of service according to the employee’s ordinary hours of work and it accumulates from year to year.

What is a day?

In a recent case the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia had to consider the meaning of “day” in section 96 of the Act.

The case related to a group of employees … Continue Reading

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 of a mirror work health and safety (WHS) Bill.… 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 financial year, over 1,800 people were compensated for a workplace injury sustained through workplace bullying or harassment.

In light of these numbers, WHS regulators around the country have become increasingly focussed on prosecuting individuals for bullying-related breaches of the national harmonised WHS law.

Highlighting the … 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 worker’s shift.[1] The case is part of the growing trend of class actions in the employment sphere.… Continue Reading

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