The long-awaited ‘Independent Review of Occupational Health and Safety Compliance and Enforcement in Victoria’

Despite being dated November 2016, the long-awaited report entitled ‘Independent Review of Occupational Health and Safety Compliance and Enforcement in Victoria’ (the review) was released on 18 December 2017, just in time for some light holiday reading.  At the same time the Victorian government response to the review was also released (the government response).

The review was undertaken between February and November 2016 by Dr Claire Noone, Ms Cathy Butcher and Ms Margaret Donnan (the panel).  The terms of reference included to examine, review and make recommendations about “…the relevance and appropriateness of WorkSafe’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy” and “…the appropriateness and effectiveness of Worksafe’s compliance and enforcement activities”.

In all, 22 recommendations were made by the panel (after having reviewed 112 submissions[1]) and a number of them are summarised below.

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Changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law coming in mid-2018

Australia’s Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is changing in mid-2018.  The changes are not only relevant to businesses that drive or operate heavy vehicles.  They will also apply to any businesses that consign, pack, load or receive goods by heavy vehicles.

Background to Chain of Responsibility Amendments

As a result of concerns expressed by industry participants and regulators, and after extensive consultation, Australia’s transport ministers resolved that the HVNL should be reformed to better align with other national safety legislation such as the Model Work Health and Safety Act and the Rail Safety National Law. Continue reading

Guaranteed wage increase upon return from maternity leave

An employer cannot replace an increase of salary due to an employee returning from maternity leave by the payment of an exceptional bonus.

For the first time, the French Supreme Court has issued a ruling concerning the nature of the salary increase due to an employee returning from maternity leave, as required by article L.1225-26 of the French labor code.

In this particular case, an employee requested an increase of salary calculated on the basis of the salary increases which took place within the company during her maternity leave. Continue reading

The proposed bill to amend Québec’s labour standards: what are the effects on placement agencies?

The Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions (the bill) was tabled by the liberal government at the National Assembly at the end of March. Several provisions of this bill will have an impact on the businesses of personnel placement agencies. Here is our take on these issues.

In a nutshell

Simply put, in addition to establishing the principle that agency employees may not be remunerated at a lower rate of wage than that granted to the employees of the client enterprise, the bill requires personnel placement agencies and recruitment agencies for temporary foreign workers to hold a licence and provides for the implementation of regulations concerning such agencies. Enterprises that retain the services of such an agency that does not hold a licence will be liable to a penal sanction. In addition, personnel placement agencies and the client enterprises that retain their services will from now on be solidarily liable to an employee for the pecuniary obligations fixed by the Act respecting labour standards.

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The fairness of a misconduct dismissal

A recent case has considered whether a school was entitled to summarily dismiss a head teacher for her failure to disclose a personal relationship with a convicted sex offender.

In the case of Reilly v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council Mrs Reilly was dismissed after she failed to disclose her friendship with a convicted sex offender, to the governing body of the school at which she was headmistress (the School). Mrs Reilly brought a claim for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal which she lost, and her subsequent appeals at the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court were all dismissed. Continue reading

Le projet de loi sur la réforme de la Loi sur les normes du travail est déposé à l’Assemblée nationale

La ministre responsable du Travail, Dominique Vien, vient tout juste de déposer le projet de loi 176 sur la modification de la Loi sur les normes du travail (LNT) et d’autres dispositions législatives afin principalement de faciliter la conciliation travail-famille.

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The UK Government’s Good Work Plan and the Gig economy

Further to our post on the UK Government’s announcement (7 February 2018) of its Good Work plan following the Taylor review of Modern Working Practices published in July last year (the Review), the Government’s full response has now been published (the Response) together with the four consultation documents promised.

The key proposals detailed in the Response and the four consultation documents are set out below.
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ICO updates its subject access Code of Practice

The Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK (ICO) has updated its Subject Access Code of Practice (the Code) which deals with requests from individuals for personal information. The amendments are mainly to reflect the Court of Appeal’s decisions in the recent cases of Dawson-Damer and others v Taylor Wessing LLP [2017] EWCA Civ 74 and Ittihadieh v 5-11 Cheyne Gardens RTM Company Ltd and Deer v University of Oxford [2017] EWCA Civ 121.

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Artificial Intelligence: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the need for improved employee representation

Traditional labour law is facing new challenges with the upcoming availability of flexible employment platforms (e.g. Uber/Takeaway/Deliveroo/Helpling). Society demands flexible working hours, flexible contracts and most employees are now – or in the near future – required to constantly review their skills to remain employed.

It follows from research performed by the World Economic Forum that the rise of artificial intelligence, robotics and other digital developments is displacing the primacy of human expertise in the economy.

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What do #MeToo and #TIMESUP mean in an Australian workplace context?

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations surfacing in October 2017, the ‘MeToo’ movement has gained widespread traction after women and men around the world started sharing their experiences of workplace sexual harassment and sexual violence on twitter using the hashtag #MeToo.

In circumstances where one in five people surveyed by the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that they had been sexually harassed within the 5 years immediately prior to the survey3, it is time to ask what do #MeToo and #TIMESUP mean in an Australian workplace context and what should employers be doing?

If you would like to learn what to do about #MeToo have a read of our recent legal update or come to one of our upcoming free seminars.