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
The Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of New South Wales considered this issue in Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer v Hill  NSWCA 54, 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
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
Queensland’s first industrial manslaughter sentence was handed down yesterday by the Brisbane District Court for the death of a worker at an auto recycling yard in 2019. … Continue Reading
Laws introducing the offence of industrial manslaughter in the resources sector were passed by Queensland Parliament on 20 May 2020.… Continue Reading
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
On 8 April 2020, the Commonwealth Parliament passed amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) to assist employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme to deal with the economic impact of the Coronavirus.… Continue Reading
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
The Federal Government announced 30 March 2020 that it intends to pass legislation to introduce a wage subsidy, called the JobKeeper payment, for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19.… Continue Reading
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
As Australian businesses scramble to implement a COVID-19 task force, response plan and risk management protocols, at some point they may face a very important issue: to pay or not to pay their employees.… Continue Reading
Australia, like many countries, continues to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus situation, caused by the outbreak of a novel coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.… Continue Reading
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, like many countries, is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019.
In order to meet their duty of care to workers, there are a number of steps employers should now be taking.… Continue Reading
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
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
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
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
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
The Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Act 2019 was passed by the Victorian Legislative Counsel on 26 November 2019 without any amendments. It is now awaiting royal assent, and will come into operation on a day to be proclaimed or on 1 July 2020 at the latest.… Continue Reading
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. The case is part of the growing trend of class actions in the employment sphere.… Continue Reading
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 the maximum penalty for category 1 offences to increase from $3 million to $3.46 million);
- create a penalty unit system to ensure maximum penalties increase every year to reflect changes to the consumer price index;
- prohibit insurance against safety fines for offences under
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 at which time it received its first and second reading. The Legislative Council heard that the Bill seeks to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) to provide for offences for workplace manslaughter and will provide … Continue Reading