HR News

Human Resources News & Opinion

10th August 2022

Comcare claims; important tips about the claims process
Comcare is the Federal ‘no-fault’ workers’ compensation scheme. It covers Commonwealth Government employees and employees of certain licensed companies. Eligible injured workers can claim a range of benefits including income payments, medical expenses and lump sum payments for permanent impairment. When lodging a claim, it’s important to ensure that the details of your claim clearly demonstrate the connection between work and your injury; a threshold test referred to as causation.
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When Councillors or Council staff are out of line: New model policies for local councillors and staff
Local councils are an important part of our system of representative government. As with other representatives, it is reasonable to expect that our local councillors will be held to a high standard of accountability. Unfortunately, sometimes councillors can fall short of the community’s expectations as the transition to online and remote meeting platforms has exposed. The increase in council meetings being held virtually appears to have shed greater light on instances of meltdowns, bullying, and online trolling occurring during council meetings
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Local councils are not immune from regulatory attention, and should maintain robust safety management systems to manage the work of third party contractors
Wingecarribee Shire Council (Council) has recently entered into an enforceable undertaking with SafeWork NSW following alleged breaches of health and safety duties, which left two workers injured. In 2018, Council engaged a contractor to drain vessels at a sewerage treatment plant. In October 2018, during the course of that work, a 15 tonne crane was being used to dismantle a piece of equipment and came into contact with overhead powerlines. Unfortunately, two workers who were guiding the equipment at the time received electric shocks and suffered serious injuries. The driver of the crane was not injured.
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Employees v contractors—where are we at?
The tide is changing, again. Last August, I wrote about the Latest clarity on casual v permanent employees, which dealt with the intersection of two issues: Rossato case law and workplace reforms/Fair Work precedents. Since then, the High Court has followed the changing tide, allowing the appeals and overturning several Full Federal Court decisions. Effectively, the High Court said, barring sham contracting, it was only the written contract that determines if a person is an employee or contractor, not post-contractual conduct.
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What is constructive dismissal?
Constructive dismissal is the term used to describe a situation where an employee has been left with no real choice but to resign from their employment because of conduct, or a course of conduct, engaged in by their employer. Constructive dismissals are also sometimes referred to as a forced resignation. When making a constructive dismissal claim, the employee must prove that they did not resign from their employment voluntarily and that they were instead forced to do so because of their employer’s conduct.
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Why you should get advice before you sign an employment contract
Many employment contracts contain restrictions on employees during and post their employment. It is important to understand what your obligations are and check if they are fair and suitable. Many employment contracts contain clauses that restrict employees during or after their employment. This can include working for competitors, talking to clients or working within certain areas after they leave.
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Fears regional students left increasingly behind as tertiary education needed for future jobs left by the wayside
Tertiary education experts are concerned the gap between regional and metropolitan students seeking further education is widening. Nicole Wright from the Country Education Foundation said regional and rural children are 20 per cent less likely to opt for university and TAFE courses than city students.
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Gender pay gap remains worst for women in WA despite uptick in those working, report finds
Women are participating in the workforce at a higher rate than ever before in Western Australia but they still face the biggest gender pay gap in the country, a report has found. The WA government's 2022 Women's Report Card — which measures the health, safety, economic independence and leadership opportunities of the state's women — says female participation in the workforce is the highest it has ever been.
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Fair Work Ombudsman announces a record $532 million in unpaid wages were recovered in 2021-22
The amount is more than three times that of last year's figure. "It's clearly a problem," AMP senior economist Diana Mousina said. Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah announced the figures in a speech to the Policy-Influence-Reform (PIR) conference in Canberra on Monday afternoon and said they were good news for workers and compliant businesses.
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Stress less: Why we shouldn’t fear the four-day working week
Dogs in offices. Flexible work hours. Mental health days. It may sound simplistic, but most workplace change stems from an employee wanting to improve their life and a leader brave enough to listen and implement. As a Scottish business owner in Australia, I used to take great pleasure in my annual 30-hour transit back home. It was my time to clock off and think big. I didn’t work, I didn’t jump on my laptop, but when I landed I ended up roaming around Europe, hunting for a notepad and pen when growth plans came to me.
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Embrace the change: Working from home is here to stay
Working from home appears to be exercising the minds of Victorians this week. LaTrobe University academics were interviewed in the media about their study of working from home (WFH) during the 2020 lockdowns, most commonly with a focus on reported negative health impacts. In another contribution, Liberal Melbourne City councillor and barrister Roshena Campbell argued in this masthead that working from home risks creating a new class divide.
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3rd August 2022

Can employees challenge a written warning?
A written warning is a document issued by an employer to an employee indicating that the employee is at risk of dismissal due to unsatisfactory performance or conduct. A warning is often used to support a decision to dismiss and should therefore be treated seriously by employees.
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Can employees negotiate out of lengthy notice periods?
Lengthy notice periods are an increasingly common mandate for employees in senior or executive level positions or those with highly sought-after skills. For employees bound by these extended timeframes, it can be difficult to navigate how and when to leave a role for a new opportunity, especially if their new or prospective employer wants them to start sooner.
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Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave Bill to be introduced this week
The Federal Government is set to introduce the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022 (the Bill) on Thursday as Parliament resumes this week. Earlier this year, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) began its four yearly review of the Family and domestic violence leave entitlements in modern awards and arrived at a provisional view that the entitlement should be increased to ten days paid family and domestic violence leave.
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Rebels Who Dislike the Cause: Can Employees Be Directed to Act Contrary to Beliefs?
The recent controversy over the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles‘rainbow’ rugby league jersey raises an interesting employment law question which extends beyond football: to what extent can an employer direct an employee to promote, or be involved in, a cause, message or campaign to which the employee objects?
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Survey: print media portrayal of teachers doesn’t help recruitment
Remember when former Morrison government minister Stuart Robert lashed out at “dud” teachers? In March, the then acting education minister said the “bottom 10 per cent” of teachers “can’t read and write” and blamed them for declining academic results. This is more than just a sensational headline or a politician trying to get attention. My research argues the way teachers are talked about in the media has a flow-on effect to how people feel about becoming a teacher, and how current teachers see their place in the community.
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Never mind home alone, interns arrive to empty offices
Alex Hyman pictured his summer internship being one part Entourage and one part The Office: people screaming into telephones, others menacing their desk mates as unnervingly. Instead, the office of his entertainment agency was mostly empty when Hyman, 20, arrived in early June, on the day he had been told to report to the Los Angeles location. He waited outside a locked door until a colleague found him and explained that his boss was working from home. Hyman was dropped off in a conference room with his fellow interns. They spent the day navigating Excel and joking about it.
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What is emotional intelligence and why is it becoming 'a must-have skill' at work?
Daniel Goleman has a blunt warning for jobseekers in 2022 and beyond: It's no longer enough just to be smart. Dr Goleman, an American author and psychologist, has spent decades touting the importance of 'emotional intelligence' in the workplace and other areas of life. And it appears companies and organisations have caught up with him. But what exactly is emotional intelligence or EI? And is it just more work-speak or 'a must-have skill' of the future?
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'Grand compromise' at Western Sydney University hailed as answer to tertiary sector's reliance on insecure work
After years of revelations about the university sector's "dirty secret" — casualisation rates as high as two-thirds of all staff, as well as wage theft — there could be a solution. It comes as university staff negotiate their industrial agreements, with ugly scenes already unfolding on campuses across Australia.
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Refuse refusal: rubbish collectors to let garbage pile up on Melbourne CBD streets during work ban
Melbourne’s city streets are in danger of disappearing under a pile of waste as rubbish collectors step up demands for a new pay deal. Nearly 100 staff, covered by the Municipal and Utilities Workers Union (MUWU), kicked off work bans on Thursday by refusing to service four key city streets.
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Female tradies inspire next generation to fight gender stereotype through school program
When Erin Murphy decided to pursue a carpentry apprenticeship, she didn't realise the extent of the sexism she would face just to get her foot in the door. She said once a potential employer saw that she was a woman, she rarely heard back. "I have a very specific memory of a person calling me up for an interview and they were super excited, they said 'Can I please speak to Aaron Murphy?' And I said, 'oh no it's Erin Murphy'," she said.
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27th July 2022

The Workplace Vaccine Mandate Myth Buster Case

In the recent Fair Work Commission decision of Eileen Owens v I-Med Radiology Ltd [2022] FWC 1823, an interlocutory judgment considering whether an unfair dismissal application had been filed within the required 21 days, Deputy President Asbury surveyed recent cases dealing with mandatory workplace COVID-19 vaccination and very helpfully set out principles emerging from those decisions relevant to a requirement for employees to be vaccinated in workplaces which are subject to government directives.
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Failure to protect: Damages for distress, hurt and humiliation
The recent Federal Circuit and Family Court decision of Ruttley v Willis Brothers Installation (Qld) Pty Ltd [2022] FedCFamC2G 430 has highlighted the need for employers to properly respond to and deal with employees’ requests and inquiries about their employment. In this case, the employer’s failure to do so made it liable for additional damages for the employee’s distress, hurt and humiliation.
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Employer’s ‘inadvertent error’ invalidates enterprise agreement
In a notable decision, the Fair Work Commission (Commission) has dismissed an employer’s application to approve its enterprise agreement, even though it was voted up by its employees, because the employer failed to comply with the strict Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) requirements in distributing a Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERR) to its employees. In recent years, we have seen a steady decline in the number of enterprise agreements being made. This trend can partly be attributed to the technical requirements to make a valid enterprise agreement.
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COVID-19 resurgence extends unpaid pandemic leave
The full bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) handed down a decision on Friday 15 July 2022 confirming that it will extend the unpaid pandemic leave provisions (Schedule X provisions) in certain modern awards. Essentially, this means that employees covered under numerous modern awards will continue to have access to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave if they’re unable to work because of COVID-19 (i.e. are required to self-isolate), until 31 December 2022.
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Childcare workers to strike on 7 September as union says sector needs serious overhaul
The new Labor government will fail in its attempts to make early childhood education more accessible and more affordable without a serious overhaul of the sector’s conditions and wages, the United Workers’ Union has warned. Educators voted on Wednesday to take strike action on 7 September – Early Childhood Educators Day – to highlight the issues and stress that workers within the sector have been experiencing after “more than a decade of inaction”.
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Workplace reform to proceed even without consensus at jobs summit, Tony Burke says
Labor will not allow its desire for “consensus” at the jobs summit to be “an excuse for inaction”, Tony Burke has said, warning reforms to boost pay and job security will proceed even over employers’ objections. The workplace relations minister told Guardian Australia he intends to “bring as many measures as possible from Labor’s secure jobs better pay policy in a single bill later in the year” after the September summit.
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As Australian job vacancies double, which sectors are facing the biggest labour shortages?
Job vacancies in the Australian labour market have not just recovered from the Covid pandemic, they’ve doubled. According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics release, there are 480,100 job vacancies in Australia, a 111.1% increase since February 2020. In June unemployment tumbled to 3.5% as Australia approaches what is considered full employment, meaning almost everyone willing and able to work is in a job.
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Ground crew, baggage handlers threaten strike action prompting fears of further delays at major Australian airports
Long queues, flight cancellations and baggage delays at major Australian airports could worsen, with "chronically overworked" ground crew threatening strike action over pay and working conditions. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said about 700 baggage and ramp operations staff at global aviation company, Dnata, will apply to the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday to hold a vote on industrial action.
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Government winds back Australian Building and Construction Commission's powers to 'bare legal minimum'
The federal construction watchdog's powers will be stripped back to the "bare legal minimum" within days, in a federal government move to dump what it describes as "ridiculous" rules. Labor went to the last election vowing to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) altogether, arguing it had been wasteful in pursuing cases against unions.
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Artificial intelligence can monitor workplaces for safety breaches. Experts say privacy laws are lagging
The emergence of artificial intelligence that uses cameras to check for health and safety breaches in the workplace has raised concerns about a creeping culture of workplace surveillance and a lack of protections for workers. AI technology which uses CCTV cameras can be trained to identify breaches such as when a worker is not wearing gloves or a hard hat, or to identify hazards like spills.
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How to make performance reviews less terrible – especially given the challenges of supervising remote workers
Few office workers seem to like performance reviews, those annual examinations of how well workers are doing their jobs. And many seem to outright hate – or fear – them. A 2015 survey of Fortune 1000 companies found that nearly two-thirds of employees were dissatisfied with performance reviews, didn’t think they were relevant to their jobs – or both. In a separate survey conducted in 2016, a quarter of men and nearly a fifth of women reported crying as a result of a bad review. The figures were even higher for younger workers.
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20th July 2022

Serious Misconduct – What employers need to think about
It can often be confusing for an employer when assessing if an employee has engaged ‘serious misconduct’ and if it is therefore appropriate to dismiss them from their employment without notice. In this blog, we clarify what is most important for an employer to consider in determining that an employee has engaged in serious misconduct.
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Family and Domestic Violence / FDV Leave
A landmark decision has been handed down by The Fair Work Commission providing Australian workers with an entitlement to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave. What is family and domestic violence?
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Proposed courier and gig economy changes in Queensland
The Queensland State Government has introduced laws which, if passed by State Parliament and approved by the Federal Attorney-General, will fundamentally change the regulation of couriers, lorry owner drivers and those working in the gig economy. The Industrial Relations and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 contains what will be a new chapter of the Industrial Relations Act dealing with independent couriers. These are individuals (who are not employees) who provide a service transporting goods using a courier vehicle (including a car, van, lorry, truck, bicycle or scooter).
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WorkCover weekly payments
When you suffer an injury at work in Victoria, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages (weekly payments), medical expenses and lump sum compensation called an impairment benefit. These entitlements are known as your statutory benefits, or no-fault benefits. This article will examine the first of these entitlements, weekly payments of compensation after a workplace injury.
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What is the difference between redundancy and retrenchment?
Redundancy and retrenchment are two terms that are sometimes confused by employers and employees. Redundancy occurs when a specific role is no longer required because of operational changes within a business. Once a position is redundant, the employee holding that role can either be redeployed (moved into another job for the same employer) or retrenched (lose their job).
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Difference between accumulation and defined benefit super funds
Most Australian workers have a superannuation fund into which monthly or quarterly deposits are made by their employer as well as the option for contributions to be made by the worker themselves. Employers need to make super guarantee payments (a legislated percentage of the employee’s wages) and some employers will also offer higher contributions as part of a salary package, employment contract or enterprise agreement.
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When Does Work Commence? The Difference Between Paid Working Time and Unpaid Preparation Time
It is generally accepted that employees will need to take steps to prepare themselves before commencing work, and that this preparation time is unpaid. However, there are circumstances where employees are required to perform work-related tasks prior to commencing work, or during their break. For example, applying and removing personal protective equipment (“PPE”). The question arises…what constitutes paid working time, and what remains unpaid preparation time?
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What to do if your Tasmanian worker’s compensation claim is disputed?
If you’re injured at work in Tasmania, you’re entitled to lodge a claim for worker's compensation. If your claim is accepted, you will be entitled to weekly payments, medical expenses and other benefits. But what happens if your WorkCover claim is disputed by your employer? How long does your employer have to make a decision on your WorkCover claim?
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Significant damages awarded to a bullied worker under Fair Work Act
In a recent series of decisions before the Federal Court of Australia, a long-serving employee who had been harassed and bullied by the company’s CEO successfully obtained a very significant order for compensation for breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), after the Court held that it was not confined by the restrictions imposed on a claim by the employee for the same events under state workers compensation laws.
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War for talent myth debunked
Every day there are headlines about how difficult it is for businesses to find great staff - but it is somewhat of an exaggerated rhetoric. That’s the view of Charles Ferguson, Asia-Pacific general manager of global employment platform Globalization Partners, who says the war for talent is all about perspective.
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13th July 2022

Hundreds of Perth health staff, police and firefighters rally in stop-work meeting for pay rises
Pausing mortgages, carpooling to save on fuel, and asking for help to feed themselves - they're the many ways health staff say they're making ends meet. As rising inflation and interest rates put more pressure on their pay cheques each month, hospital workers are pushing for what they say is a fair pay rise after two years of living on the front lines of COVID. It's why hundreds rallied outside Perth Children's Hospital today, in a bid to try and convince the government to review its public sector wages policy as new pay deals are negotiated.
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Unfair Dismissal Cap Rises to $81,000 Today
The caps for compensation and income in unfair dismissal claims increase from today. The high-income threshold for unfair dismissal applications increases to $162,000, while the maximum compensation increases to $81,000 for any dismissal claims lodged from 1 July 2022. The high-income threshold means that the Fair Work Commission will not have jurisdiction to hear a claim for unfair dismissal made by any employee not covered by an award AND who earns more than $162,000.
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Government eyes increase to skilled migration, but says it won't be the simple fix to Australia's labour woes
Treasurer Jim Chalmers says a proposal to temporarily double skilled migration places to 200,000 to address critical labour shortages is a reasonable one, as the federal government plans a jobs summit to find common ground in the private sector. Business groups have lobbied for a lift in the migration intake as nearly every sector struggles to find workers.
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Proving causal nexus in psychological injury claims
If a co-worker sets up a colleague for a criminal offence, and the colleague suffers a psychological injury – does the psychological injury occur in the course of, or arise out of, employment? In the matter of Nizamdeen v University of New South Wales [2022] NSWPIC 17 (12 January 2022) the Commission decided the psychological injury did not occur in the course of, or arise out of, employment.
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Updated OHS framework for labour hire workers and hosts in Victoria
The Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (Vic) (Amending Act) amended the OHS Act to expand the scope of the occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations on organisations when they use labour hire workers in Victoria. Although host organisations already owed OHS duties to labour hire workers, a key practical implication of the Amending Act is the new express obligation requiring consultation and cooperation between host employers and labour hire suppliers in relation to OHS issues.
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Accounting for Portable Long Service Leave
Whilst many of us are familiar with the concept of Long Service Leave (LSL), we may be less familiar with the concept of Portable LSL. With the shift in numerous industries to short-term contracts, many employees will never be able to work for the same company for the required number of years to be entitled to LSL.
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Workplace relations changes effective 1 July 2022
There are various workplace relations changes that came into effect on 1 July 2022. Employers and employees must be aware of these changes. As discussed in our previous article, the Fair Work Commission has approved increases in respect of the National Minimum Wage (NMW). These changes include the NMW increasing by 5.2 per cent, meaning the new NMW will be equal to $812.60 per week (or $21.38 per hour). In addition, modern award minimum wages have increased, with modern award rates below $869.60 per week attracting an increase of $40 per week, and modern award rates above $869.60 attracting an increase of 4.6 per cent.
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Widow of food delivery rider vows to fight for workers' rights after legal win
The widow of a food delivery rider who died in Sydney has vowed to continue fighting for worker rights after winning a lengthy legal battle against gig company Hungry Panda. Speaking to 7.30 after the bittersweet victory, Lihong Wei said her two children were still struggling to deal with the loss of their father, Xiaojun Chen, two years ago.
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Curtin University study predicts workplace silica exposure could cause 10,000 Australians to develop lung cancer
The co-author of a new study that predicts up to 10,000 Australians will develop lung cancer from workplace exposure to silica dust says the use of artificial stone for kitchen benchtops should be banned. Lin Fritschi, a professor at the Curtin University School of Population, said silica dust — the most potent source of which is artificial stone — is a dangerous product and banning it would save the lives of construction workers.
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Melbourne aged-care provider charged by workplace safety watchdog after Covid outbreak
A Victorian aged-care provider has been charged with occupational health and safety offences after a deadly Covid-19 outbreak at one of its facilities. WorkSafe has alleged Heritage Care Pty Ltd failed to properly train staff at its Epping Gardens residential aged-care facility in 2020 during an outbreak that resulted in several deaths and infections. WorkSafe said 89 residents and 65 staff developed Covid during the outbreak, with 34 residents subsequently dying from Covid-related complications.
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6th July 2022

Land­mark State­ment on the Rights of Gig Econ­o­my Workers
Uber and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) have signed a joint Statement of Principles that calls for reform of the rights and conditions of workers in the on-demand transport industry who are not engaged as employees. The statement signals support for the Federal Government legislating for an independent body with the capacity to: set minimum earnings/benefits and conditions for platform workers; facilitate a mechanism to resolve disputes; ensure the effective representation of platform workers; and ensure that appropriate enforcement mechanisms are in place.
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Limits to relying on a specialist contractor
A recent judgment has emphasised the limitation of relying on a specialist contractor to safely perform work, where the risk of injury is obvious and no action is taken to stop the unsafe work. While a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) is entitled to rely on the expertise of another contractor when they do not possess the skills to do the work itself, it does not completely remove the duty of care. Where there is a known risk to health and safety, and the PCBU has processes in place to reduce that risk, then it has a duty to stop any unsafe work until those processes are complied with.
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Mammoth fines for unions supporting essential worker strikes
The NSW Government plans to dramatically increase fines for unions that take strike action not approved by the State. NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said Labor will block the new bill and criticised the new premier for failing to do what his predecessor was capable of.
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NSW government loses bid to stop rail union’s industrial action
Sydney is set for more train delays on Wednesday after the New South Wales government lost its case to suspend planned industrial action by the state’s rail union. The government launched a case in the Fair Work Commission on Monday seeking orders to block the fresh round of industrial action by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU).
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Unions seek high court challenge to NSW campaign spending restrictions
The peak union body in New South Wales is seeking to launch a high court challenge against the Perrottet government amid a push to reintroduce controversial laws that cap third-party campaign spending ahead of next year’s state election. Unions NSW filed pleadings in the high court on Thursday, targeting so-called “acting-in-concert” laws that ban unions and other third-party organisations such as religious and community groups from pooling resources during election campaigns.
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Industrial action to continue across Sydney rail's network causing delays for commuters
Sydney commuters will face further rail delays with trains operating at 60 per cent capacity for the rest of the week. The NSW government made an application with the Fair Work Commission to halt further industrial action by the rail union which would see only 25 per cent of trains on the tracks operational.
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What employees want from their jobs
The acute skills shortage shows no signs of slowing down, meaning this could be the perfect time for professionals to rethink their relationship with their employer – whether through asking for a pay rise, embracing greater flexibility at work or starting the search for better opportunities elsewhere.
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Four-day work week has a chance to gain traction this time
The four-day work week is having a moment. With thousands of workers in the UK trying it – part of a recently launched six-month trial that is the largest of its kind in the world – there’s a sense that it might finally gain wider traction. At least if employees have any say.
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Australia hasn’t had the Great Resignation, but more people are quitting now
The past year has been awash with suggestions countries such as Australia are experiencing a “great resignation” as workers previously loyal to their employers quit their jobs and look for others elsewhere. Last year, newspaper articles aside, there was little evidence for this in Australia, although substantial evidence in the United States where the term came from.
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Letting pensioners work more may help fill job vacancies, but there may be better alternatives
There's almost never been a harder time to find good staff. Shop windows across the country are plastered with "help wanted" signs, and most of those businesses are finding help pretty hard to find. Health care, hospitality, IT, construction and manufacturing are just some of the industries clamouring for new staff, and competing for a fairly small pool of available workers.
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29th June 2022

Why are almost half of our work-related fatalities occurring on our roads?
According to the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland, fatigue contributes to 20% to 30% of all injuries and deaths on the road. [1] The true statistics may very well be more significant given, in many instances, fatigue is but one of several factors that may have contributed to the accident. It is not just a public safety issue. It is also a workplace issue.
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Do you want to be an independent contractor, or an employee?
The legal distinction between independent contractors and employees is often written about: not so often the question of whether a working doctor is better off as an independent contractor or as an employee. If you have a choice, or the option is negotiable, what factors are relevant in deciding which way should you go?
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Signing a deed of release may affect your ongoing worker’s compensation benefits
On occasion, a worker may be asked to sign a deed of release when an employer moves to terminate the worker. A deed of release is a legally binding document between an employer and employee, setting out the terms of settlement (for example, payments and what each party can and cannot do), following an employee’s termination. In this article, we explore how a deed of release can affect an injured worker’s ongoing worker’s compensation benefits following termination of employment.
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Recent amendments to Model WHS Act
On 6 June 2022, the national Model WHS Laws were amended to consider a wide range of matters, including recommendations from Marie Boland’s independent review of the laws in 2018. Of Boland’s 34 recommendations for the harmonised laws, Safe Work Australia (SWA) has implemented 20 of them. Updates will be made to the model WHS Act, the Act’s explanatory memorandum, the model WHS Regulations, the Regulations’ explanatory statement and other relevant materials.
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Sexual harassment in the workplace
Among other significant events in 2021 was the commencement the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act 2021 (Cth), known as the Respect@Work legislation, that clarified and expanded the operation of the existing laws and amended the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth), the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)./
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Qantas outsourcing heading to High Court as airline loses appeal
Qantas outsourcing of 1,683 ground crew worker jobs during the pandemic was found to be illegal by the Federal Court and the company lost its subsequent appeal against that decision. The airline now plans to take the landmark case to the High Court where it could be liable for huge costs if it loses, including compensating the sacked workers, as well as penalties for breaching the Fair Work Act.
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Changes to the WA industrial relations act
Changes to the Western Australia industrial relations system come into effect on 20 June 2022. The Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Act 2021 amends a number of acts, including the Industrial Relations Act 1979, the Long Service Leave Act 1958, the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993, and the Public and Bank Holidays Act.
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Fair Work Commission Considers COVID-19 Vaccination Policy Implemented During Omicron
A recent decision relating to a dispute under an Enterprise Agreement shows that COVID-19 vaccination policies in the absence and easing of government directions can be reasonable and lawful, even with high community and workplace vaccination rates. In this case, the Fair Work Commission disagreed with submissions from union representatives that insufficient consultation occurred, the policy was unreasonable because lesser control measures could be used, or that vaccine requirements were disproportionate to the risk, particularly in light of Omicron, and upheld the policy as lawful and reasonable.
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Labor unveils 'clean slate policy' as part of last-minute tweak to controversial jobseeker reforms
Jobseekers who have accrued penalties or demerits under Australia's outgoing employment services program will have their slates wiped clean, under a Labor pledge made just days before a controversial new system comes into effect. From next Monday, a new service called Workforce Australia will replace the jobactive scheme, which required jobseekers to submit 20 job applications a month to keep their Centrelink payments
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"Tick-a-box exercise’: majority of jobseekers dissatisfied with billion-dollar Jobactive system, report finds
Jobseekers are dissatisfied with the poor quality service and punitive treatment they’ve received under a $1bn-a-year privatised employment services program, according to a new report. An Australian Council of Social Service report, released on Tuesday, surveyed respondents about their experiences of the Jobactive system, which has been the main scheme for people on unemployment benefits in Australia since 2015.
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Workplace Gender Equality Agency report shows the gender pay gap widens as women get older
Women are vastly underpaid over their lifetimes and missing out on top management roles while pay parity with men remains elusive, according to research out today. Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows that across all generations, less than 50 per cent of women are working full time and earn consistently less than men in every age bracket.
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22nd June 2022

FWC hands down highly anticipated minimum wage decision
An expert panel of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has handed down its decision in its annual minimum wage review for 2021-22. In a highly anticipated decision, the FWC has approved a series of increases in respect of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and modern award minimum wages.
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Workplace bullying or reasonable management action – what injured workers or employees in Victoria need to know
The negative effects of workplace bullying, stress and/or harassment on an injured worker can be traumatic, severe and permanent – often resulting in lifelong adverse mental health consequences. If you are or have been subject to bullying in your workplace, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
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Government will introduce ten days paid family and domestic violence leave
In 2018, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) varied over 100 modern awards to include five days’ unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence. Earlier this year, the FWC began its four yearly review of the Family and domestic violence leave entitlements in modern awards and arrived at a provisional view that the entitlement should be increased to ten days paid family and domestic violence leave.
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Fair Work Commission minimum and award wage increase - cost of living fire blanket for workers or inflationary fire accelerant for business?
The Fair Work Commission Expert Panel on Annual Wage Reviews has handed down its decision to raise the national minimum wage and modern award minimum wages by 5.2%. Under s.285(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), the Expert Panel is required to “conduct and complete an annual wage review in each financial year”.
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Federal Court rules in favour of international workers in wage dispute
The Federal Court has ruled a New South Wales restaurateur significantly underpaid two international workers in a major contravention of the Fair Work Act. Indian national Midhun Basi and Pakistani national Syed Haider sued Vaisakh Usha and his company, Namitha Nakul Pty Ltd, claiming breaches of the Act.
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Am I thin-skinned, or is my colleague’s nagging getting nasty?
I have a colleague who criticises my work. In the beginning, the criticism was firm but usually fair. Now it feels to me as if it often gets personal, unhelpful and even a tad nasty. It is confusing because by many measures, I see my work has only got better over this period.
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Rural escape: Where talking about the weather is more than small talk
When Millie Fisher and her friend and boss Grace Brennan from rural online marketplace Buy from the Bush jump on Zoom meetings with city dwellers, they often kick off with a comment about the weather. They’re not just making small talk. “People just look at us blankly as if to say, ‘What are you telling us that for?’ Unfortunately, out here the weather affects the internet. That can definitely be a struggle at times, but we always manage to work around it,” says Fisher.
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Diversity and inclusion aren’t the same, and both need your attention
Recognition and understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in Australian workplaces is increasing, which is an encouraging shift in the right direction. However, something I frequently observe is that the two terms—diversity and inclusion—are used interchangeably. In reality, they are two distinct concepts that are certainly interconnected, but not exchangeable.
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Universities on workplace watchdog’s wage theft priority list
Eleven universities are being investigated for potentially underpaying staff and the federal workplace watchdog has flagged “high-level” action against several as it put the tertiary education sector on this year’s priority list. Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said underpayments in the tertiary sector had become a systemic issue, which has been linked to the use of casual academics.
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Major boost for workplace mental health and mines safety
The McGowan Government has announced two major workplace initiatives that will further support the health and safety of Western Australian workers. Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston has appointed an independent expert to review the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s (DMIRS) protocols for responding to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the mining industry.
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NSW teachers to strike over pay and 'crippling workloads' next week
Teachers from NSW's public and Catholic schools will go on strike on Thursday, June 30, over a dispute about pay and staff shortages. The NSW Teachers Federation and the NSW branch of the Independent Education Union of Australia have announced the historic 24-hour strike action, for the day before the end of term two.
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15th June 2022

Response to modern slavery law disappointing, report finds
When the government brought in the Modern Slavery Act in January 2019, it was hailed as a critical first step by Australia towards tackling the global problem of modern slavery. The government proclaimed it would transform the way businesses respond to modern slavery by requiring companies to report on how they take effective action to address the risks of slavery in their operations and supply chains. However, new figures reveal that the early impact of the Act is disappointing.
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Terminating an Employee for Excessive Phone Usage during Work Hours
As employees start to return to the office, they may find it increasingly difficult to leave their personal lives at home. Employees may be tempted to handle private affairs such as a side business or non-work related calls during working hours. While employers may be lenient to a certain extent, what happens when this compromises the quality of the employee’s work? As an employer are you entitled to dismiss an employee simply because they were using their phone?
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What can we expect from the Albanese government in relation to employment, industrial relations and workplace safety?
In the lead up to and now post-election, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has flagged several significant changes to Australia’s employment, industrial relations and workplace safety landscape. As the ALP has now formed a majority government, we can expect sweeping reform and the implementation of key policy directives. It will be important for businesses to remain attuned to developments in this space, as many of the ALP’s proposals, if implemented, will require substantial updates to workplace policies, procedures and employment contracts.
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The Importance Of Understanding Award Coverage and Application
Whether you’re an employee or an employer, it’s important to know whether you/your employee’s position is award covered and, if so, by which award. Award coverage is relevant to determining monetary and non-monetary entitlements, as well as availability of/exposure to unfair dismissal claims on termination of employment and breach of award claims.
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Using his own words against him: How a complete refusal to comply with an employer’s vaccination policy regardless of its contents can justify termination without notice
Mr Matthew Colwell was employed by Wellways Australia, until his employment was terminated on 18 December 2021. His employment was terminated on the grounds that he failed to comply with a policy requirement that he be vaccinated against COVID-19. Mr Colwell made an application under s 394 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) seeking a remedy for unfair dismissal. In his application, Mr Colwell claimed that the policy was not subject to proper consultation, such that a decision to dismiss him for non-compliance could not be a valid reason for dismissal.
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Fair Work upholds decision to dismiss for IP disclosure
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission to uphold the dismissal under the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code highlights the value to business of ensuring employment agreements include important intellectual property protections. In August 2021 Amplified AI Pty Ltd (AAI) dismissed its Head of Design, James Mansfield, for breach of confidentiality obligations and infringement of its intellectual property (IP). In the decision in James Mark Mansfield v Amplified AI Pty Limited [2021] FWC 6702 (30 December 2021) the Commission upheld the dismissal under the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code 2011.
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Sexual harassment under the microscope – importance of reform
A recent NSW discrimination case has highlighted the importance of reform in the area of sex discrimination and sends a message to employers about the impact of the proposed amendments to federal sex discrimination laws. In the recent decision of Vafa v Holdsworth; Vafa v University of Newcastle [2022] NSWCATAD 163, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) considered whether conduct occurring between an academic and his student amounted to sexual harassment.
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Sexual Harassment Training Essential in Today’s Workplace
One of the objectives of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (the “Act”) is to eliminate sexual harassment. A recent decision of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“VCAT”) serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of employee training to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and the need for effective systems to deal with complaints. An employee, Ms Oliver, alleged that over the course of almost 11 months her co-worker, Mr Catalfamo, engaged in conduct that constituted sexual harassment at the beauty salon where they both worked. Such conduct included suggestive and inappropriate comments, enquiries, jokes, requests and touching. There was also an incident of sexual assault.
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Changes to the WHS Model Laws – coming to a state and territory near you!
On 20 May 2021, the Ministers responsible for Work Health and Safety (WHS) from the Commonwealth and each state and territory met to consider a range of matters, including the response to the 2018 “Boland Review”. On 14 April 2022, a raft of amendments were made to the Model WHS Laws – but for reasons unknown, the updated model WHS Laws were not published until 6 June 2022.[1]
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NSW education department launches legal action against teachers union over May strikes
The New South Wales Teachers Federation is facing potential court-ordered penalties because of widespread strikes in May over pay and conditions in public schools. In a lawsuit, the state’s Department of Education accused the union of breaching orders made by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) in November last year ordering it to refrain from further industrial action.
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What Albanese needs to build a new industrial relations consensus
A few weeks before his election victory, Anthony Albanese made an important speech to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He talked of “socially inclusive growth – the kind of growth that is only possible with economic reform that lifts productivity”. But how to do it? Albanese’s answer was a good one: greater co-operation.
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SA government reaches compromise with unions and business over ReturnToWorkSA changes
South Australian workers would still be able to claim compensation for multiple injuries caused in the same incident, under legislation proposed by the state government after backing down due to pressure from unions. However, the threshold for workers to be considered "seriously injured" would increase from 30 per cent to 35 per cent of whole-person impairment in order to keep down the premiums employers pay to ReturnToWorkSA to cover potential work injury claims.
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8th June 2022



Public sector employees to join Hyde Park rally and NSW parliament march today
A statewide strike of public sector workers and a march will go ahead today, despite a commitment by the NSW government to lift wages. On Monday, Premier Dominic Perrottet said that workers could expect a pay rise of 3 per cent this year, with another 0.5 per cent increase likely next year. But the Public Service Association (PSA) NSW, which is leading the march, is calling for the government to increase wages by a minimum of 5.2 per cent.
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Exempt workers: Compensation for First Responders
In 2012 and 2015, amendments were introduced to NSW workers compensation legislation. Workers compensation entitlements were reduced for all workers in NSW except emergency service workers including police officers, paramedics, firefighters and lifeguards. As these workers are exempt from these amendments, they are generally referred to as “exempt workers.”
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What the ALP Election Victory Means for Employers
As the dust settles from the 2022 federal election, the election of the Australian Labor Party (the “ALP”) is likely to bring about some changes to the employment and industrial relations landscape in Australia. Throughout the election campaign a number of promises were made by the ALP and we have considered what the ALP election victory means for employers.
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The Rise of Workplace Banter
There is an interesting development in the UK, with the rise of “workplace banter” as a defence to claims of harassment, bullying and discrimination. It raises the question of what constitutes light-hearted banter, what constitutes inappropriate workplace behaviour, and whether employees are aware of the distinction. The FWC has similarly dealt with many cases of inappropriate workplace behaviour.
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Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission endorses a broader definition of ‘termination of employment’
A 5-member Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (‘the FWC’) has addressed the relationship between demotion and dismissal under the Fair Work Act (‘the FW Act’) in a recent appeal determination. In NSW Trains v Todd James [2022] FWCFB 55 (‘Todd James’), the Full Bench overturned a decision of DP Saunders, who in a 2021 decision held that demotions amount to dismissal where employment continues with significant reductions in remuneration or duties.
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Australia is on the brink of a wellbeing recession
Lockdowns and border closures may (hopefully) be a thing of the past, but the legacy of COVID looms large over our ways of working. One of the lasting impacts of COVID is that many Australians are working more hours and feeling more burnt out than before the pandemic. Remarkably, more than 90 per cent of workers now say their physical and mental wellbeing is just as important as their pay – and that’s during a cost-of-living crisis. Simply put, Australia is in danger of tipping into a wellbeing recession.
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Buzzword bingo: Corporate jargon strikes back
So much corporate gobbledygook gets thrown around LinkedIn that when an account from comic creation Alan Partridge was launched in the midst of the pandemic, his spoof posts seemed to blend in seamlessly. In one update mocking those who spout meaningless career advice, he urged his followers to “be different, be you, be best” — telling them to flex their creative muscle as soon as they wake up by thinking of unusual ways to get out of bed (“roly poly off the end”) or attend a video call (“why not host the call while scratching your feet with a pumice stone, or doing some lunges? Again, try to be creative”).
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Meetings – a waste of time or valuable part of office life?
Face-to-face meetings are one of the many challenges of reintegrating back into office life. No longer can you dial into team meetings with the camera off because of your dressing gown and bed head. In-person meetings not only require a greater level of engagement, but a greater attention to grooming.
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Unions claim 'astounding' changes to ReturntoWorkSA injury insurance scheme to be rushed in on budget day
SA Unions says the state's new Labor government is trying to rush through legislation to make it more difficult for workers to claim compensation for multiple injuries caused by the same workplace incident. The state government and Business SA have said the changes would make the ReturnToWorkSA scheme more affordable for employers.
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Eco-friendly policies could entice workers back to the office
Climate change took centre stage at Australia’s recent Federal election with many voters using their ballots to put the environment at the top of the political agenda. While the benefits of climate change mitigation for the environment are clear, University of South Australia human resources expert Dr Subha Parida says ‘going green’ could also bring workers back to the city – a challenge many employers face as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease.
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Casuals, contractors and gig workers set for 'potentially massive' changes under Labor
With the election campaign focused on issues as disparate as the cost of living, China’s growing regional influence and transgender women playing sport, you might have missed it — but the incoming Labor government has promised a radical overhaul of an employment system it says is letting workers down. "The changes are potentially going to be huge … potentially massive," says Giuseppe Carabetta, senior lecturer in employment law at the business school of the University of Sydney.
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1st June 2022



Employee wins almost $100,000 in compensation and penalties following unlawful adverse action by employer
In December 2021, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia found that an employer had taken adverse action against an employee for a prohibited reason under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Mr Stuart Lees was employed in 2014 by Asaleo Personal Care Pty Ltd as a sourcing manager. Mr Lees was regarded as a good and valuable employee until 2019, when part of the business was sold. On 14 July 2019, Mr Lees requested a formal redundancy. The General Manager denied this requested as Mr Lee’s job was not redundant despite three category members no longer reporting to him.
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“What’s in a Name?” High Court of Australia confirms the Employee versus Independent Contractor Test
On 9 February 2022, the High Court of Australia (High Court) altered the legal test used to determine whether a person is an independent contractor or employee at law, with the focus now on what the parties have agreed. In analysing the “totality of the relationship between the parties”, Courts will consider the rights and obligations conferred and give less weight to how the relationship operates in practice.
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Exploitation of Migrant Workers Set to Increase
Natural disasters, the Covid-19 pandemic and a federal election may have knocked the exploitation of international students and temporary visa holders off the front pages of the newspapers, but it remains a significant issue in Australia – and a hidden one as workers are often unaware of their rights or too scared to speak out for fear of repercussions. There are concerns the problem could get a great deal worse as international borders reopen and students return to a nation desperate for workers, which now allows their hours to be limitless.
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An employer can breach their duty of care by allowing an employee to repetitively turn their head when operating machinery
In the New South Wales District Court, Judge Russell dismissed Mr Cavanagh’s claim for injuries arising from his employment with Manning Valley Race Club. Mr Cavanagh claimed that he had suffered a serious cervical spine and right shoulder injury while working as a course manager for Manning Valley Race Club at the Bushland Drive Racecourse in Taree. Mr Cavanagh alleged that he sustained his injuries between June 1999 and February 2011 due to the nature and condition of his work, which resulted in an impairment of 27% of his spine.
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Can an employer dismiss an employee following a serious drink driving conviction?
In the recent case of Sydney Trains v Andrew Bobrenitsky [2022] FWCFB 32, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission upheld an appeal on the grounds that the Deputy President erred in concluding that an employee had been unfairly dismissed following a serious drink driving conviction. Although Mr Bobrenitsky’s employment was terminated in response to misconduct that transpired away from his work, the Full Bench held that the nature of the misconduct was such that the employee could not be reasonably entrusted to continue carrying out his train driving duties.
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Proposed 10 Days Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave
The Fair Work Commission has provided a provisional view that employers engaging staff across 123 different awards will be required to provide 10 days of paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave. The FWC has outlined its ‘next steps’ for FDV leave to be filed on 1 July 2022. The FWC cited the introduction of the family and domestic violence leave will “help individuals to maintain their economic security, to access relevant services and to safely exit a life free from FDV”.
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Paramedics across NSW take snap industrial action after last-minute union decision
Paramedics across New South Wales will take five days of industrial action from Friday night after a last-minute union decision. The Australian Paramedics Association (APA) has moved forward with its on-the-job industrial action which was planned to begin on Monday in lieu of negotiations with the NSW government over a pay rise and a resource deficit.
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Firefighter registration fuels tension between unions, Victorian government amid fire services overhaul saga
All paid Victorian firefighters will soon be certified by a new union-backed registration scheme despite the state government working on an alternative model to recognise firefighter qualifications. There are also concerns from some firefighters that the new registration board will give the United Firefighters Union (UFU) control over who can work as a firefighter.
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There’s one big reason wages are stagnating: the enterprise bargaining system is broken, and in terminal decline
Real wages in Australia have been stagnating for the better part of a decade. Now, with higher inflation, they’re declining. So what can the new Albanese government, having campaigned hard on the previous government’s failures, do about it?
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Anthony Albanese has some tough economic problems on his plate. Here are seven of them
All new governments face challenges but the Albanese government faces some very unique economic problems no previous government has had to deal with as it comes to grips with running the country.
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Labor’s jobs summit to focus on pay deals and productivity in bid to lift wages
More immigration, improved skills policy and simplifying collective bargaining have emerged as three top demands from employers for the new Labor government’s jobs summit. Experts suggest the forum could also pave the way for reforms including wage theft legislation, which was dropped from the Coalition’s industrial relations bill, and action on union demands about insecure work.
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25th May 2022

Proposals to expand the Federal System to ‘employee-like’ arrangements and alter ‘casual employee’ definition
Much of the Australian Labor Party (ALP or Labor) policy that was taken to this election concerns what the party describes as ‘insecure work’. Debate during the campaign has made clear that for the ALP, that description encompasses a wide class of worker – including casual employees, labour hire employees and independent contractors. We have reported on numerous ALP policies which impact this group, for example the same job/same pay and portable leave proposals.
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Australian Federal Election Workplace and Industrial Relations Survey: Back to the future?
The results of our recent 2022 Federal Election Workplace and Industrial Relations Survey of our clients suggest that, as we emerge from the pandemic, the industrial relations challenges are quickly returning back to normal. In other words, despite the unprecedented events of the past couple of years, the headline issues in industrial relations are the same as they have always been; with limited new ideas to address them.
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Case Note Update: Qantas Airways Limited v Transport Workers’ Union Australia [2022] FCAFC 71
The Trial Judge found that Qantas could not prove a negative - that the substantive and operative cause of the airline’s decision to make the staff redundant was not to prevent the workers exercising a workplace right. The workplace right was identified as the ability to negotiate a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement in the 6 months following the redundancy.
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Full bench suggests ten days family and domestic violence leave
In 2018, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) varied over 100 modern awards to include five days’ unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence. Earlier this year, the FWC began its four yearly review of the Family and domestic violence leave entitlements in modern awards. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) made arguments in support of increasing leave entitlements noting that all workers should have access to ten days paid family and domestic violence leave.
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Workers in the office feel less connected than those working from home, study finds
CEOs hellbent on getting workers back in the office say that being physically together boosts connectivity. Turns out that’s not the case. Only one in six people feel strongly connected at work, with on-site employees the least connected of all, according to a study on Tuesday from global consulting firm Accenture. Some 22 per cent of fully remote workers say they feel “not connected,” while the share for those in the office is nearly double.
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Unions, business, lay out priorities for incoming Albanese government
Australia’s union movement and the major business groups have staked out their priorities for the incoming federal government, with skills shortages and the spectre of an old battle over industrial law emerging as the two main themes.
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Legal centres and employer groups call for better protections for migrant workers
Fernanda* was one of around 80 international students underpaid by a cleaning company that went into liquidation and set up under a new name a short time later. It is a practice known as phoenixing, where companies go into liquidation to avoid paying debts, such as entitlements owed to staff. A recent Senate inquiry found migrant workers like Fernanda were particularly vulnerable to underpayment and exploitation and most did not seek help.
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Liberals should make superannuation voluntary and childcare free, moderate Andrew Bragg says
The Liberals should promise to make superannuation voluntary, introduce state income tax, offer free childcare and increase climate targets according to a radical reform agenda proposed by Andrew Bragg. The New South Wales senator has called on the opposition to abandon culture war issues in favour of economic reforms that unite Liberals in the wake of the Morrison government’s devastating defeat on Saturday.
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Labor’s jobs summit to focus on pay deals and productivity in bid to lift wages
More immigration, improved skills policy and simplifying collective bargaining have emerged as three top demands from employers for the new Labor government’s jobs summit. Experts suggest the forum could also pave the way for reforms including wage theft legislation, which was dropped from the Coalition’s industrial relations bill, and action on union demands about insecure work.
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Wages growth edges up, but still a long way short of the rising cost of living
Australian workers saw their base wages rise an average of 0.7 per cent over the March quarter and 2.4 per cent over the past year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The annual pay rise trails a 5.1 per cent jump in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, over the same period.
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18th May 2022



DoorDash, TWU sign industry-first agreement on gig economy principles, paving the way for further regulation
Meal delivery platform DoorDash and the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) have signed a first-of-its-kind agreement, laying out key principles for workers and companies operating in the gig economy while backing the push for enforceable industry standards. Major gig economy providers like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Deliveroo operate under a independent contractor model, where riders and drivers decide when, where, and how long they work.
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Australian Uber drivers warn of mass exodus if base pay rates remain unsustainably low
Uber drivers, already feeling rising cost-of-living pains, say there will be a mass industry exodus if base rates don’t increase to sustainable levels. Les Johnson, the secretary of the Ride Share Drivers’ Association of Australia, said fees and charges had “gone through the roof” in recent months resulting in high driver cancellation rates.
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Family and domestic violence paid leave on the political agenda after Fair Work Commission decision
Unions and advocates are calling on the next federal government to give all workers access to 10 days' paid and family violence leave, after the Fair Work Commission's landmark in-principle decision on the issue. The Fair Work Commission gave its in-principle support to vary the awards for around 2.3 million workers to include annual entitlements of 10 days' paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave.
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Managing the risks of employees impaired by alcohol and other drugs
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has just released a new regulatory guidance note on managing the risks associated with alcohol and other drug use impairment in the workplace. This follows the NHVR’s first regulatory advice notices on managing the risk of transporting freight in shipping containers and managing the risks of light to medium heavy vehicles. What are the safety risks associated with drug and alcohol use?
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Australia should lock in full employment: new Grattan report
Australia should shoot for full employment after the COVID crisis, according to a new Grattan Institute report. No one left behind: Why Australia should lock in full employment shows that all workers suffer when unemployment is high, but the most vulnerable workers suffer the most. And the costs of failing to reach full employment increase over time.
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The side hustle supporting women post-pandemic
The impacts of the Covid pandemic have not been shared equally, with research revealing women have had a much more challenging time of it. But Australian women are resilient, and many are finding flexible work as they recover from the financial woes of the past couple of years. What the pandemic has taught us is that flexibility in where, when and how we earn a living is providing women with choices.
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Why Aussies are seeking more flexible work solutions
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that most of us work far too many hours. In fact, according to the Australian Institute of Health & Safety, Covid-19 has contributed to increased risk of burnout. This has led workers to seek out more flexible opportunities. Sydney’s Jayson Wong is a case in point. He was a business manager for a luxury car company when life stepped in and revealed it had other plans for him.
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Eliminating gender bias in the workplace
Most of us don’t intend to be biased – but what many don’t realise is that removing bias requires conscious action. We are all hardwired to categorise things we encounter to help us make sense of the complex world around us, which often show up as biases both inside and outside the workplace. Many large companies have been increasing their focus on diversity and inclusion and expecting all employees to take responsibility for educating themselves and adapting their behaviours company-wide.
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Employers fear the cost of making workplaces accessible. Turns out it's mostly free
Nathan Basha didn't let his disability prevent him from getting his dream job at a Sydney radio station. "I might have Down syndrome, but that is not who I am," he said. With a passion to work somewhere that embraced his interest in film, music and celebrities, Mr Basha said it was his supportive mum who asked him "how do we make this happen?"
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Employer duty of care greater where risk of injury at work is obvious
An employer’s duty of care to its employees is greater when there is an obvious risk of psychological or physical injury (whether or not it results in a workers compensation claim) due to the nature of the work and/or the working environment. Zagi Kozarov was a dedicated and hard working solicitor, repeatedly exposed to traumatic sexual material which caused her to suffer psychiatric injury. She brought a WorkCover common law claim for compensation against her employer after being diagnosed with PTSD and depressive disorder.
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11th May 2022



Pre-election workplace relations policy tracker
Since the release of the Australian Labor Party’s Secure Australian Jobs Plan, the team at Corrs have been tracking key announcements made by major political figures regarding industrial relations, workplace relations and other issues potentially relevant to business.
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The flip side of the 'Great Resignation'
The so-called “Great Resignation” has recently taken up a lot of headline space, with many self-appointed experts providing plenty of fact-light assessments about the effect of the pandemic on people deciding to leave their jobs. Much less time has been devoted to understanding those who want to stay put in their jobs, especially those employees who were forced by the pandemic to work from home and have now decided they should be allowed to keep working from home indefinitely.
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Journalist Awarded $180,000 in WorkCover common law claim for PTSD
A journalist was awarded $180,000 for pain and suffering damages in her WorkCover common law claim for psychiatric injuries after she was exposed to traumatic events as a crime and court reporter. YZ (a pseudonym) brought a claim against the Age in 2019 after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (‘PTSD’).
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Labour Hire Agreements
In the current environment, it is not unusual for businesses to enter into an arrangement with another party for the provision of workers, whether for a specific task or type of work, or for the ongoing performance of services. Labour hire agreements can be drafted to reflect the terms and conditions of such an arrangement, that is, between one party who provides the workers (“Provider”), and the other party who “hires” the workers (“Client”).
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Top 5 Tips for Employers to manage risk in 2022
Depending on your industry, you may be operating your business from home, or you may be exercising a hybrid working model (balancing work from home with work from the office). Whatever your current method of managing your working arrangements with your employees, our experience of COVID-19 over the last two years, and of the ebbs and flows of professional legal services within the employment scape, has equipped us with a knowledge of the risks, experiences, and concerns of employers within these unprecedented times.
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Employee monitoring software became the new normal during COVID-19. It seems workers are stuck with it
In early 2020, as offices emptied and employees set up laptops on kitchen tables to work from home, the way managers kept tabs on white-collar workers underwent an abrupt change as well. Bosses used to counting the number of empty desks, or gauging the volume of keyboard clatter, now had to rely on video calls and tiny green "active" icons in workplace chat programs.
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The solution to Australia’s jobs crunch could be already here
Australian businesses starved of skilled workers could recruit from a pool of more than half a million job-ready women, but only if the next government invests in better childcare, improves access to paid parental leave and drives higher wages in critical industries. As Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese clash over how to drive up pay packets in the face of sharply rising inflation, new research shows a solution to the nation’s skilled worker crisis could already be here.
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How an auto-reply helped me regain control of my inbox
Send me an email and you'll immediately get a reply — one informing you that I might not get back to you for a good week or more. It's an auto-responder I set up two or three years ago, as the weight of an ever-expanding inbox and the pressure to reply speedily began wreaking havoc on my workday and my mind.
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Industry warns ’small business can’t afford it’ after Albanese backs 5.1% minimum wage rise
Employers have warned against “unaffordable” wage increases after Anthony Albanese backed a 5.1% minimum wage rise to keep up with inflation. Despite the warnings, the Australian Industry Group has raised its own submission to the Fair Work Commission from 2% to 2.5%, while the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked for low-paid workers to get a 3% rise.
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Underfunding and staff shortages are driving aged care sector to ‘untenable standstill’, major provider warns
The head of a major Australian aged care provider has warned workforce shortages and underfunding are exhausting staff and driving the sector into an “untenable standstill”. The BaptistCare NSW and ACT chief executive, Charles Moore, has issued a plea to whichever party forms government to act immediately to improve aged care funding, warning the current pressures are unsustainable and are hitting vulnerable residents as well as staff.
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4th May 2022



The importance of giving employees an opportunity to respond before termination
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (Commission) has affirmed the importance of giving employees (subject to termination) a genuine opportunity to respond, even where the reasons for dismissal are valid. Employers should consider the following to ensure that the dismissal of employees does not contravene the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act),
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High Court decides the Commissioner of Police’s decisions to medically retire police officers are not exempt from unfair dismissal
On 3 November 2021, the High Court determined that a decision made by the Commissioner of Police (NSW) (Commissioner) to medically retire a police officer was not excluded from challenge under the unfair dismissal regime in the Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW) (Industrial Relations Act).
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Eco-focused talent is in high demand
Demand for green skills is surging in the Australian labour market, driven by the transformation of the energy sector and the ongoing, economy-wide transition to a lower-carbon future. Jobs data backs up the idea that Australia’s economy is transitioning to be greener in nature. In 2021, the recruitment of sustainability managers was 24 per cent higher than 2016, according to LinkedIn’s most recent Global Green Skills Report, which analyses the platform’s data.
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Opinion: Why the Great Resignation is a myth in Australia
“March is the Month of Expectation. The things we do not know - The Persons of prognostication Are coming now,” wrote poet Emily Dickinson in March is the Month of Expectation. Well, March has been and gone, a month in which prognosticators writing in major news outlets last year claimed “millions of Australians” would leave their jobs.
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Consumer finance fintech InDebted named Australia’s best place to work
Consumer finance fintech InDebted has won the top spot in the 2022 AFR BOSS Best Place to Work list, thanks to its newly implemented four-day work week, work from anywhere policy, and payment of a quarterly office stipend. The online debt collection agency was also crowned the AFR BOSS Best Place to Work in the technology sector over progressive companies including employee wellbeing startup Culture Amp and online jobs company SEEK.
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Qantas loses appeal on 'illegally' outsourcing jobs, with compensation and penalties awaiting
Qantas has lost its appeal against a Federal Court decision that found the outsourcing of about 2,000 ground crew workers was illegal. But the company now plans to appeal the landmark case to the High Court. If it loses it could be liable for hefty costs including compensating the sacked workers as well as facing penalties.
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Teachers to strike despite plea from NSW government to delay industrial action
Teachers in New South Wales will go ahead with a planned strike on Wednesday despite an 11th-hour plea from the government for the union to delay action until after the June budget. Teachers will walk off the job for the second time in five months, amid long-running concerns over wages and conditions. It is the latest in a series of strikes in the state’s public service, with train drivers, nurses and paramedics recently taking such industrial action.
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Industrial Relations on the Agenda in the Upcoming Election
With the 2022 federal election looming, PCS examines some of the prominent industrial relations policies being put forward by the major parties and the implications for employers. Both the Liberal-National Coalition (the “Coalition”) and Australian Labour Party (the “ALP”) have put forward policies to protect employees and employers, boost wages and address unlawful practices in the workplace.
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Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission confirms the meaning of ‘dismissed’ in unfair dismissal cases
A five member Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission in NSW Trains v James [2022] FWCFB 55 has reversed a single member decision that would have allowed employees who were lawfully demoted to challenge their demotions as unfair dismissals. This is a significant decision confirming that section 386(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) exclusively defines the meaning of whether an employee is ‘dismissed’ and that employers with a right under an enterprise agreement, or other industrial or legislative instrument, to demote an employee are not exposed to unfair dismissal claims if they properly exercise that right.
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Managing Sick or Injured Employees
This podcast is the second part of our series discussing managing absent employees. In this episode we address the management of employees that have had a long term absence due to personal injury or illness. We discuss how to take the next steps, the legal risks, and the procedures that need to be followed when it becomes apparent that the inherent requirements of the role can’t be met. This is a complex and high risk area of law and employers are advised to proceed with caution and seek legal advice for their specific situation.
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27th April 2022


Graduate hiring on the rise as employers offer more than money
As more graduate roles open up, employers will need to ensure their offer is attractive. While salary is a key component of any good offer, graduates consider more than money when deciding where to start their career.
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Main parties fall short on career development policy
As we are frantically wooed by political parties, once again, policies that relate to career development are heavily targeted at relatively short-term exercises in boosting numbers enrolled in courses or apprenticeships, with little or no consideration (and therefore support) of the longer-term outcomes.
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Managing Personal Leave
Businesses report that one of their biggest costs of managing their business is the cost of personal leave. Personal leave is an employee entitlement under the National Employment Standards, but is commonly misused, and this misuse costs the Australian economy millions of dollars each year. There are steps that all businesses can take to minimise this exposure.
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Respect@Work: positive duties for a new age
Two years after the landmark Respect@Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces Report (Respect@Work Report), it is clear that the prevention of and response to sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace will continue to be a significant issue for employers, irrespective of which party wins the federal election.
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Demotion did not Trigger Dismissal
In certain circumstances the demotion of an employee can trigger the termination of their employment and allow them to bring an unfair dismissal claim. A recent decision of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has found that an employee who was demoted was not dismissed despite an almost 10 per cent reduction in salary.
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Australian farm revolution: hopes and fears as a new workforce replaces backpackers
The government’s visa refund scheme to entice working holidaymakers back to Australia ended this week, with little more than 7,000 backpackers having taken advantage of the offer. That modest return is one indicator of a profound change in the fabric of Australia’s agriculture industry, as backpackers are replaced by migrant workers thanks to pandemic restrictions and a wider shake-up in the visa system.
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ReBOOT: what is the ‘better off overall test’, and should you be worried about it?
The Coalition and Labor have been arguing over the “better off overall test”, known as the BOOT. What is it, why are they arguing, and who is right?
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Factcheck: has the Coalition really ruled out industrial relations changes that could cut pay?
Labor is warning that a return of the Coalition’s omnibus industrial relations bill will mean changes to the better off overall test, allowing pay cuts.
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20th April 2022



Should pay secrecy clauses stay or go?
There’s been a lot of debate in mainstream and social media in the past week about major Australian corporates removing pay secrecy clauses from their employment contracts. The Financial Services Union is keeping sustained pressure on employers in that industry to remove the clauses from their employment contracts.
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Bosses don’t follow their own advice in returning to the office
Bosses are hellbent on getting their staff back into the office. It’s just that the rules don’t necessarily apply to them. While 35 per cent of non-executive employees are in the office five days a week, just 19 per cent of executives can say the same, according to a survey by Future Forum, a research consortium backed by messaging channel Slack.
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‘Retention is the new black’: Bosses must earn the commute or pay the price
For Australian employers, the writing is on the wall: there’s little choice but to take a proactive approach in tempting workers back into the office, or pay the high cost of staff turnover amid an increasingly expensive war for talent. As the post-pandemic “hybrid work” model becomes the norm, experts are warning organisations large and small they must offer flexibility as well as “earn the commute” in a red-hot job market where a poor return-to-office policy can see even the most loyal employee walk out the door.
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Gannawarra Shire Council pleads guilty to safety violations over Kerang thumb amputation
A northern Victorian council has been slapped with a $15,000 fine after pleading guilty to workplace safety breaches that resulted in an employee losing part of his hand. The incident occurred in October 2019 when the man, a diesel mechanic employed in Kerang by the Gannawarra Shire Council, was attempting to adjust the height of a hydraulic press that had a broken handle.
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Aged care workers across Australia vote to take industrial action
Aged care workers across the country have voted to take industrial action over acute staff shortages and continuing low rates of pay, and their union says the mood for strike action prior to the election is “very strong”. The United Workers Union says members at five aged care providers collectively employing 7,000 workers have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action, with three more ballots due in the next week.
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Workcover weekly payments after 130 weeks
Most people need some time off work after sustaining an injury. If this injury occurred at work or in the course of your employment, you would likely be entitled to WorkCover payments of weekly compensation. But what happens if you can’t get back to work for a very long time or can’t go back to work at all? This article will examine how long your entitlement to weekly payments will last and what happens once you’ve been on WorkCover in Victoria for more than 130 weeks.
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Compensation win for vulnerable victim of workplace racial abuse
Hall Payne Lawyers recently successfully represented a First Nations worker who had suffered a serious psychological injury after being the victim of ongoing, nasty racial abuse from colleagues. A workers compensation claim was initially accepted then subsequently denied before finally being won on appeal at the Northern Territory Work Health Court.
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Changes to employee share schemes a win for talent
Employee share schemes have been overhauled as a part of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s Budget 2022/23 announcements, with the government introducing a number of changes to increase access to share schemes. Companies use employee share schemes to incentivise current and potential employees by offering an opportunity to purchase shares or options in the company, usually at a discount.
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Labour reform: a key issue for employers in the Federal Election
This election will be held in an Australia that is facing, what must feel to many of us, a very challenging and complicated world — the erosion of the rules-based order with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on-going and persistent tensions in Australia’s relationship with China, the trials of exiting the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, inflation, rising interest rates and energy costs, and challenges in supply chains from shortages of labour. Organisations have much to contemplate — and we will continue to hear lots about these issues in the election campaign.
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New OHS regulations dealing with psychosocial hazards
The Victorian government is on the way to making employers more accountable for the mental health of their employees. Important amendments relating to psychosocial hazards have been proposed to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (Vic). The proposed changes are to commence on 1 July 2022. We expect the proposed changes will largely be made in their current form. Under the new regulations, employers will need to identify psychosocial hazards, properly manage psychosocial hazards and actively report complaints of psychosocial hazards to WorkSafe. Failing to do so will expose an employer to prosecution and penalties.
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Can the Fair Work Commission and federal courts award costs in employment matters?
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) and the Fair Work Division of the federal courts are both ostensibly ‘no costs’ jurisdictions. This means that the default position regarding claims and litigation associated with employment (e.g., unfair dismissal and general protections claims) is that no claims for costs against the other party can be made and consequently each party will pay its own costs.
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13th April 2022



Thousands of health workers walk off the job over pay dispute with NSW government
Thousands of health workers have walked off the job as they call for a pay rise in an ongoing dispute with the New South Wales government. The strike is designed to put pressure on the government before a conciliation hearing at the Industrial Relations Commission next week. Under the state’s wages cap, public sector pay increases cannot legally exceed 2.5%. The Health Services Union said this was not enough as inflation is running at 3.5%.
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Hospitality industry calls for pay freeze for Australia’s lowest-paid workers
Workers on the lowest pay would receive a real pay cut under a proposal to freeze the minimum wage pushed by the cafe and restaurant industry. The Restaurant and Catering Industry Association called for no increase in the minimum wage in its submission to the annual review, arguing take-home pay is already rising due to job shortages, on top of super increases and budget giveaways.
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WFH forever? Two years into a work-from-home revolution, some may never return to the office
For almost a decade, Jenny Searle has had the same job. However, in the past two years, everything has changed for the better. Jenny is part of a social revolution that has swept the nation in the two years since March 2020, when governments mandated people who could work from home should do so, to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Australia enshrines protection against modern slavery
In the past four years, the Australian government has taken steps to address workplace exploitation in the operations and supply chains of Australian companies and this week it ratified the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Protocol on Forced Labour. With the ratification of the ILO Protocol on Forced Labour, Australia inches closer to making its response to modern slavery more survivor-centred, placing increased emphasis on the rehabilitation and compensation of those that have been exploited.
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Temporary migrant workers remain vulnerable to workplace exploitation
Our borders have reopened. International students and backpackers are returning. Employers who complained of labour shortage can rejoice. But temporary migrant workers were vulnerable to workplace mistreatment before COVID-19. And there is no reason to think that employers will benevolently pay legal wages where they didn’t before. So, what has Australia’s government done to ensure businesses act appropriately now? The federal government has regularly touted its two main responses to the wage theft crisis – raising maximum penalties and increasing the Fair Work Ombudsman’s funding.
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Consequential conditions – circumstances where a diagnosis is required
In the recent case of Grant v Dateline Imports Pty Ltd [2022] NSWPICPD 3, on appeal, Deputy President Wood confirmed the worker must have evidence of a diagnosis in support of an alleged consequential condition. The presence of symptoms, rather than a diagnosis, was insufficient to support a finding of consequential injury.
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Workplace sexual harassment and compensation
Everyone has the right to a workplace that is safe and free from sexual harassment. Despite legislation across multiple Acts of Parliament aimed at protecting workers against sexual harassment, incidents continue to occur. In this article, we look at the options for compensation for those who have experienced sexual harassment at work. If you or someone you know has been physically or mentally injured from sexual harassment in the workplace, you can make a WorkCover claim for no fault statutory benefits including weekly payments, medical expenses and a lump sum claim for permanent impairment.
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Blindsiding a worker into a redundancy meeting is not “reasonable management action”
In this article, we explore a case where a worker’s initial claim for workers compensation was denied by WorkCover Queensland due to the employer’s actions being considered “reasonable management action”. Upon application to Workers’ Compensation Regulator, that original decision was confirmed. The worker appealed to the Queensland Industrial Relations Tribunal (“QIRC”) who overturned the prior decisions and the workers’ compensation claim was ultimately accepted.
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Stop Sexual Harassment Order Not Made by FWC Due to Employee’s Resignation
In 2021 the Government brought in reforms designed to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. This included the introduction of a “stop sexual harassment order”, equivalent to a “stop bullying order”. In accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (the “FW Act”) a worker who believes that they have been sexually harassed at work may apply to the Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) for an order to make the sexual harassment stop. The FWC can make a stop sexual harassment order if it is satisfied that the worker has been sexually harassed at work and there is a risk that the harassment will continue.
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Self-opinionated bore is making work unbearable
I want to know how I should deal with an annoying person at work. This guy refers to himself as a “renegade” and a “free thinker”. He says he’s the only person at the company who “thinks outside the box” and could easily be the CEO of the organisation, but “couldn’t deal with all the brown-nosing”.
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6th April 2022



NT WorkSafe charges Darwin construction company with industrial manslaughter
The Northern Territory's work safety watchdog has launched its first industrial manslaughter prosecution, over the death of a worker in a remote Aboriginal community two years ago. The 50-year-old man suffered fatal injuries after a chain allegedly failed during a towing operation in Maningrida, about 370 kilometres east of Darwin.
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Network effect and how it is changing face of work at CBA
Social media and advocacy networks such as LinkedIn are playing an increasingly important role in attracting, recruiting and retaining people in a highly competitive world for employees, says Sian Lewis, Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Group Executive for Human Resources. Being able to leverage these internal and external connections forged between existing employees, potential recruits and professional links outside of an organisation has expanded the pool of available talent nationally and internationally, she states.
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Three emerging trends in a post-pandemic hybrid work era
The first national study of working arrangements in Australia since government work-from-home directions were lifted shows post-pandemic office life is going to be dramatically different to what existed before. Our survey of 1421 knowledge workers — essentially anyone doing computer-based work able to be done remotely at least some of the time — was conducted on March 21-25, 2022. It shows fewer than a quarter of workers (about 23%) returning to commuting five days a week, with about the same percentage working remotely full-time.
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Employee or Contractor?: the High Court decides
The High Court of Australia (HCA) handed down two major decisions that highlight the importance of getting contractual terms correct and how those terms can determine the nature of the relationship. In the two decisions, the HCA makes clear that where the terms of the parties’ relationship are comprehensively committed to a written contract, (and the contract is not a sham or otherwise varied), there is no reason why the contract should not determine the character of the relationship.
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Dismissal of unvaccinated employee supported by Fair Work Commission due to vaccination being a ‘regulatory requirement’
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has again confirmed that although a worker can refuse COVID-19 vaccinations, terminating their employment for that reason will not be considered harsh, unjust, or unfair when there is a vaccine mandate in place, making vaccination an inherent requirement of the role. In Isabella Stevens v Epworth Foundation [2022] FWC 593, the FWC upheld the dismissal of a dietician who refused to provide her employer with proof of her vaccination status.
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Sick Pay Guarantee Introduced for Casual Employees in Victoria
The nature of casual employment means that casual employees are not ordinarily entitled to paid leave such as annual leave or personal/carer’s leave. In order to compensate for the loss of these entitlements, casual employees are usually entitled to a casual loading rate under relevant awards and agreements which affords them a higher rate of pay. The Victorian Government has recently introduced its Sick Pay Guarantee, which provides casual and contract workers from selected industries with access to five days of personal and carer’s leave each year to be paid at the national minimum wage.
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Sexual Harassment Update in the Fair Work Commission
A recent decision of Deputy President Beaumont in the Fair Work Commission ('FWC') (Application by Ranmeet Kaur [2022] FWC 487) has examined the scope of the FWC’s power to make orders to stop sexual harassment which were introduced under amendments to the Fair Work Act ('FWA') in 2021. The case examined both the jurisdictional requirements necessary for the FWC to make orders and the evidentiary requirements for it to be satisfied that a contravention had occurred, warranting the making of orders.
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Individual jailed for WHS Industrial Manslaughter in Queensland
History was made on Friday, 25 March 2022 when Gympie business owner Jeffrey Owen was found guilty of an industrial manslaughter offence under Queensland’s work health and safety laws, and sentenced to a five year jail term (with 18 months to be served until the remaining period is suspended). This is the first successful prosecution of an individual since this offence was brought onto Queensland’s statute books in 2017. The previous, and only other, time this offence was successfully used in a Queensland prosecution was against a company, Brisbane Auto Recyclers, in 2020. In that matter, the company’s directors separately pleaded to charges of recklessness.
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Hospitality workers say unfair rostering practices driving people out of industry
From the age of 15, Erin Thompson dreamed of having a career in hospitality, but after 10 years working unpredictable hours they decided to call it quits. "The lack of security when it came to rosters encouraged me to leave the industry," they said.
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Businesses, industry groups call for visa process to be sped up, as skilled worker shortage stings
Maria Zia is a vocational education trainer for international students in Brisbane and says her business, like many across the country, has been crippled by the halt to immigration during the pandemic. While borders have reopened and international students and workers can apply for visas to Australia, a backlog of applications has put further delays on what can already be a lengthy years-long approval process.
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30th March 2022



Job services industry stunned after wave of contract terminations
A federal government shake-up of employment services and job providers will disrupt hundreds of thousands of long-term unemployed and risk up to 10,000 jobs, the sector’s peak body has warned. The National Employment Services Association estimates the government has this month turned over existing job providers in 80 per cent of 51 regions, a level of “disruption” that the association’s chief executive, Sally Sinclair, said was unprecedented and without regard for past performance.br /> Read more

Why all Australian organisations need to address racism in the workplace, DCA report
Organisations looking to effectively address racism in the workplace, will now have access to evidence-based guidelines thanks to a new report by Diversity Council Australia. The report, Racism at work, combines the survey responses of more than 1500 Australians across industries, pinpointing the barriers facilitating racism in workplaces and how corporations can address the issue.
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Culturally diverse women paid less, stuck in middle management longer and more likely to be harassed
When Sarah Liu started her career in corporate Australia, her superiors gave her some unwelcome so-called advice. "I was actually told by different recruiters and different leaders that I was way too ambitious for my own good," she recalls. "That for a young, culturally diverse female like me in Australia, I needed to manage my own expectations around how far I can get to." At every turn, working in branding and marketing, Ms Liu was confronted by the lack of young, culturally diverse female representation.
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Labour-hire firms leaving workers with $100 a week after deductions not appropriate, minister says
The federal Agriculture Minister has taken a swipe at labour-hire companies that leave foreign workers with just $100 in weekly wages. David Littleproud said it was not appropriate the workers be left with such little take-home pay after their employer made deductions for things like accommodation, transport and visas. "There is a small cohort in agriculture, as there is in every industry, that do the wrong thing that cut corners," he said.
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Nurse loses fight against South Australian COVID-19 vaccine mandate as 3,724 new cases recorded
South Australia's industrial relations court has thrown out a bid by a nurse to continue working while not being vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision comes four days ahead of a Supreme Court challenge against the same regulations that require healthcare workers to have an approved vaccine against the coronavirus.
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Workers in Belgium can now request a four-day week. Should Australia do the same?
Belgium is the latest country to allow its residents to work a four-day week in a bid to provide greater flexibility options for employees. The government's new law reforms allow people to request working 10-hour days across four days in order to have an additional day off in the week, without a reduction in salary. Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that employees' new rights will aid in their productivity after the COVID-19 pandemic required the global labour market to change rigid working arrangements.
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Managing Underperforming Employees
Managing performance effectively is one of the critical aspects of the management of any business. Employers who fail to tackle, promptly and effectively, the problem of underperforming employees, risk long running and often expensive legal and operational problems. Not only can poor performers undermine the efforts of co-workers and harm workplace culture, but their failings can have consequences for the bottom line.
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Return to Work: Addressing Issues of Culture, Workplace Behaviour and Performance Management
For two years, restrictions and lockdowns have kept workplaces empty. However, the easing of restrictions across Australia has seen employees return to the workplace and offices comeback to life. This has been met with enthusiasm by employees and employers alike. This return to work presents the opportunity for employers to re-engage with employees and it is a good time to consider how employers can ensure high workplace standards.
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Labor Government to reform South Australia’s employment laws
The newly-elected Labor government has pledged to introduce significant and varied reforms to South Australia’s employment laws which are likely to impact employers across all industries. Notably, the policy foreshadows the introduction of maximum prison terms of up to 20 years and significant financial penalties where an employer acts recklessly and their actions are the primary cause of an employee’s death.
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FWC decision reminds employees to update their contact details
In the recent case of Daniel James Hunter v Karara Mining Ltd [2022] FWC 494, a senior Fair Work Commission (FWC) member (Member) found that an employee’s failure to update their contact information, which resulted in the employee missing his termination notice, is not enough to warrant the FWC accepting an unfair dismissal claim filed one day late.
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A FIFO Tale: Tell him he’s dreamin’: Employer liable for sleepwalker who urinates on co-worker
The Queensland Court of Appeal recently reignited the debate on the liability of an employer for an employee’s conduct while ‘working away from home’. For contractors pursuing or taking on ‘remote’ work, this should be a reminder to carefully consider the implications of FIFO living arrangements for workers. Employers and contractors may find themselves legally responsible for the actions of their employees and workers in circumstances usually considered to be outside their scope of control.
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23rd March 2022



Hybrid work becomes new battleground in war for talent
A swathe of Australians are expected to hand in their notices over the next two months when they start to collect their bonuses in the latest wave of the ‘Great Resignation’, as employers struggle to convince workers to come back into the office. Experts say employers hoping for a return to the status quo are making a mistake, as workers now crave novelty, a sense of adventure and enjoyment after two years in ‘survival mode’.
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Five Key Issues in the Australian Workplace—Highlights for Multinational Employers
The key issues affecting Australian workplaces bear a strong resemblance with those in the United States. While generalizations suffer from the limitations of being just that, here are five issues HR and workplace leaders in Australia are grappling with in a two-minute read.
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FWC Holds Unpaid Authorised Absences do not Count when Calculating the Minimum Employment Period
Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (the “FW Act”) one of the conditions an employee must satisfy to bring an unfair dismissal claim is that they have completed a period of continuous service at least equal to the minimum employment period. For businesses other than small businesses, the minimum employment period is six months. A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) confirms that unpaid authorised absences will not count when calculating an employee’s period of continuous service.
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“But I don’t want to go” – a subjective belief of unlawfulness cannot amount to a reasonable excuse
A subjective belief alone, as to the unlawfulness of a Notice to undergo a medical examination, cannot amount to a reasonable excuse for the purpose of section 57(2) of the SRC Act.
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Victorian Sick Pay Pilot – A Sign Of Things To Come For Australia's Casual Workers?
On 14 March 2022, the Andrews Labor Government announced the start of a two-year pilot program to make personal and carer’s leave payments to eligible casual and self-employed workers under its Sick Pay Guarantee. It is available now. While the scheme only applies to eligible Victorian workers, the Sick Pay Guarantee is clearly consistent with the Australian Labor Party's (ALP's) National Platform’s focus on ‘insecure’ work and reinforces that the Covid-19 pandemic provides strong political grounding to launch workplace reform of this nature.
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At what point does a psychiatric injury become reasonably foreseeable to an employer?
The Queensland Supreme Court has recently considered in detail whether a psychiatric injury suffered by a worker subject to disciplinary action was reasonably foreseeable. The Court’s decision highlights the importance for employers to be on the lookout for employees who may be developing a psychiatric injury.
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Spilling the beans: Waiver of privilege for your investigation reports
There are a wide range of workplace and safety scenarios where employers may undertake an investigation and obtain a written report. Sometimes these investigations and reports are set up to be the subject of the legal professional privilege. However, while the report may start out as being subject to a claim for legal professional privilege, this can be waived by subsequent conduct and result in ‘spilling the beans’.
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NSW parliament proposes making COVID19 long service leave flexibility permanent
The proposed Bill will provide employers and workers with greater flexibility in accessing long service leave.
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Natural disasters: Navigating business closures and employee leave entitlements
Australia is exposed to a unique range of natural disasters than can occur year-round including droughts, floods, earthquakes, tropical cyclones and bushfires. Natural disasters can have a devastating impact on businesses and often require that employers make immediate decisions about business operations and employee entitlements.
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Even Google agrees there’s no going back to the old office life
The great enforced global experiment in working from home is coming to an end, as vaccines, the Omicron variant and new therapeutic drugs bring the COVID-19 crisis under control. But a voluntary experiment has begun, as organisations navigate the new landscape of hybrid work, combining the best elements of remote work with time in the office.
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16th March 2022



Culturally diverse women paid less, stuck in middle management longer and more likely to be harassed
Div Pillay, the CEO of diversity research and consultancy firm MindTribes, says cultural diversity is difficult for corporate Australia to discuss, even at companies working to address gender diversity.
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BP worker wins unfair dismissal case after being sacked for posting Hitler meme
In 2018, a BP employee was sacked after sharing a Hitler meme on social media. The court case caused a media flurry, with journalists writing headlines such as “Hitler a joke court finds”. But behind all the commotion was a complex unfair dismissal case that dragged on for two years and cost the employer $200,000.
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Can your boss use electronic surveillance to monitor you when you’re working from home?
We know the boss can monitor everything we do in the workplace, whether they do it in person or via electronic surveillance. They can keep tabs on your computer use, time spent in the tearoom, smoko breaks and long boozy lunches. They can also track websites you’ve visited, chats with colleagues or phone calls to friends and family. But what about when we work from home, as many of us are now doing since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic?
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Losing it not using it: Half of new fathers not taking up paid parental leave
Impact Economics’ Angela Jackson says the government would be “squibbing it” if it fails to learn lessons from overseas that parental leave must offer more time and more money for Australia to get closer to equal take-up between mothers and fathers.
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In a post-COVID workplace, is dressing for success old hat?
A new report from the University of Sydney Business School highlights the importance of appearance in the office and the refashioning of professional attire in the age of remote work.
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Can You Furlough Employees in Australia?
Furlough is not a common term used in Australia. However, there is an equivalent known as ‘stand down’. Stand down is when an employer places an employee on unpaid leave rather than discontinuing their employment. There are various circumstances where you, as an employer, would consider standing down an employee.
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Commission upholds dismissal of employee sacked for objecting to working with ex-con
Highlighting the difficulties faced by employers, the Fair Work Commission recently upheld the dismissal of a supermarket employee who objected to working alongside a co-worker with a criminal record in Tiffany Stodart v The Employer [2022] FWC 277.
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It’s time Australia dumped its bureaucratic list-based approach to temporary work visas
Australia’s temporary skilled migration program is hard for businesses to use while still not protecting migrants from exploitation. There is a better way, concludes a new report from the Grattan Institute on fixing temporary skilled migration.
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Rise in hours worked signals post-lockdown recovery, but more people have multiple jobs than ever
But while the job recovery has been better than expected, when we look at what type of work has grown, we see some big concerns.
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9th March 2022



Study Reveals the Bias Still Needs to be Broken
HiBob’s Annual Study “Women Professionals in the Modern Workplace” shows that only 32% of Australian professional women surveyed believe that men and women are paid equally.
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Reckitt transforms workplace culture to promote inclusivity
Whether it be concerning economic security, workplace participation or women in leadership, current statistics continue to reflect a culture of male dominance in Australia’s workforce – however not at Reckitt Australia and New Zealand.
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Australia needs another 280,000 skilled workers by 2025
Australia’s near-insatiable need for foreign skilled workers could be alleviated by allowing students to stay longer than two years, as well as creating more flexible office practices made possible by the pandemic, said three top human resources tech specialists.
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The huge changes coming to your workplace if Labor wins the election
Workers will legally be allowed to discuss their pay-packets with their colleagues if Labor wins power at the Federal election. If elected, the ALP will also change the definition of a casual worker to make sure employees with a fixed roster are given permanent jobs. And gig workers such as Uber and Deliveroo drivers will be covered by new rules to ensure they earn at least the minimum wage.
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There’s never been a better time for Australia to embrace the 4-day week
Unlike the end of paid work, a four-day week is well within the realm of economic feasibility. But how much, if anything, would it cost in terms of lost production and lower wages?
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Why insecure work is finally being recognised as a health hazard for some Australians
Whether you are labourer engaged by a labour hire company, a checkout operator, a ride-share driver or a university lecturer on a casual contract, job insecurity can harm both your physical and mental health. In an Australian first, Western Australia has formally recognised this in its new Code of Practice on Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace.
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A ‘sound, defensible and well-founded’ approach to dismissing unvaccinated employees
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has provided some comfort to employers affected by vaccine mandates who are forced to make the difficult decision to terminate an otherwise model employee. The decision confirms that employers who provide procedural fairness to unvaccinated employees and follow a fair termination process will not be penalised for unfair dismissal.
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Growing mismatch between where Sydney’s skilled workers live and work
The number of Western Sydney residents with professional skills, including IT, finance, science and public administration, has spiked by up to 34 per cent in five years, but tens of thousands still face long commutes to jobs outside the area.
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How women can protect against ‘COVID burnout’ at work
Women bore the brunt of job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic and there are fresh warnings that women’s longer-term financial independence may be in peril amid the return to the office.
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What if women were to go on strike from unpaid care?
Emily Dimitriadis loves being a mother, but she admits what some mothers feel guilty confessing to. Which is that having a "strike day" – or in her case, simply a few hours a week away from child-raising and unpaid domestic work — is important for one's sanity.
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2nd March 2022



Back to Work! FWC Upholds Dismissal of Employee who Refused to Return to Work
A decision of the Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) has provided guidance as to the ability of employers to take disciplinary action against employees who refuse to return to work after a period of working from home. The employee commenced employment with the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”) in or around 2010 in the News & Online Services Team. In 2017 the employee, who had autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and depression, moved workstations pursuant to the medical advice of his treating doctor.
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Gambling with transfer of business under the Fair Work Act
Prior to the enactment of the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act), an enterprise agreement (EA) could only transmit from the employer who made it, to bind another employer, where all or part of the ‘business’ of the first employer had transferred to the second. Despite the fact that Part 2-8 of the FW Act is titled ‘Transfer of business’, this is a misnomer. That is because an EA now transfers to a new employer where there has been a ‘transfer of work’ – so long as the work being performed after the change is ‘the same, or substantially the same’ as before the change.
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Death in hotel gym found to be compensable
The South Australian Employment Tribunal has recently ruled that the family of an Adelaide businessman who suffered a lethal heart attack while exercising in a hotel gym during a work trip to Hangzhou City, China should be eligible to apply for compensation, because the exercise was conducted with “the implied encouragement” of the employer.
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Examining the proposed employee share scheme changes
Equity ownership is an important tool for Australian businesses, particularly those in their start-up phase or which are cash-poor. Equity ownership though an employee share scheme (ESS) or similar is critical for these businesses to attract and retain top talent – talent that will be the defining factor in whether or not a company is able to compete and succeed in a globalised environment.
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Offensive posts on personal social media accounts can get you sacked – some people still don’t get it…
It is somewhat surprising that, in 2022, we still see unfair dismissal claims involving employees dismissed for offensive posts on their personal social media accounts. It is also surprising that some employers’ social media policies do not expressly deal with out-of-hours conduct. We have a look these issues here, and conclude with some important take away points for employers.
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Three defendants found liable in workplace injury common law damages claim
The 2021 case of Muller v Klosed Pty Ltd gives a good insight into how Victorian Courts assess personal injury compensation and the calculation of damages for injured workers where there is more than one defendant. In this case, an apportionment of liability was determined for the employer as well as two further companies associated with the safety of equipment involved in the accident.
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Flexibility At Work
For many of the world’s traditional nine-to-five ‘office workers’, COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the concept of the workplace. For many employers, this has been an opportunity to explore and embrace technologies and remote work practices to unprecedented levels. For many employees, remote working has become the new ‘norm’, and an expectation therefore that jobs will include at least a partial ‘working from home’ component, has become standard.
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Sexual harassment in the workplace: Australia’s first stop sexual harassment case
On 11 November 2021, the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) anti-sexual harassment jurisdiction commenced operation. Section 789FF of the Fair Work Act provides that a “worker” (as defined under work health and safety legislation) can apply to the FWC for orders to stop sexual harassment if, while they are at work, one or more individuals sexually harasses them and there is a risk of future sexual harassment.
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Contracts: sometimes worth the paper they're written on
Last year (2021), the decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato (Rossato) provided clarity to business owners about the difference between permanent and casual employees. The decision emphasised the importance of written contracts in assessing whether a casual employee was legally recognised as 'casual'. This decision was significant, and to some surprising, outlining the High Court's view as to the primacy of a written contract.
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Why HR is becoming increasingly more strategic for business
The events of the last few years have blurred the line between our work and personal lives and catapulted the HR function into the world's spotlight, according to United VARs. HR leaders have been instrumental in steering organisations through the challenges caused by Covid-related restrictions and disruptions. They have had to cope with much uncertainty and still face the unknown, but tumultuous times can open the doors to greater opportunity and creative developments.
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HR morality police won’t make parliament safer
Two big challenges face parliamentary workplaces. First, those little fiefdoms of MPs that have operated as the wild west, with few rules and no clear lines of accountability, need to change. Immediately. Parliament must be brought into the real world to protect staff from workplace misbehaviour. The Jenkins review into parliamentary culture, instigated by Scott Morrison, is an important part of that reckoning.
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23rd February 2022



ATO to ramp up use of powers against employers that don't pay their workers superannuation
The ATO held off enforcement action against businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they now ramping up enforcement and renewing their debt collection activities.
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International students say career opportunities in Australia do not match their qualifications
Confusion around visa policies and a lack of career development services are issues that graduate employability experts and advocates say have left many people without a job.
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Omicron hits hours worked as unemployment holds steady through January
If it felt to you like no-one was at work for large parts of January, then the latest official employment figures confirm your hunch.
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Let’s circle back: The 14 most-despised workplace phrases
Are you guilty of just checking in on a team player, circling back and touching base, or demanding 110% ASAP? These are the workplace jargon phrases that make employees cringe, especially in the — ahem — ‘new normal’ of hybrid work.
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Returning to COVID-normal in the workplace
The last two years have been full of unique challenges and unexpected pivots that have forced the business world to adapt quickly. One function that has risen to centre stage across all businesses, regardless of industry, is safety...
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A totally fabricated diary of working hours, and still no costs!
A recent decision of the Federal Circuit and Family Court serves as a reminder of just how difficult it can be to be awarded costs in the Fair Work jurisdiction.
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2022 Australian Federal Election and Workplace Reform
Another federal election campaign is almost upon us, with expectation for a 14 May poll date building. For industrial relations practitioners, this often means that it is time to brace for impact. IR is almost always a hot topic in politics, with each major party having different views on how workplaces and employment relationships should be regulated. Law reform is almost always on the agenda in the lead up to an election.
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What businesses need to know as masks scrapped in Victorian, Queensland workplaces
It’s masks off in Victoria and Queensland after both states confirmed they are easing the rules in the coming weeks, a move that could see workers returning to the office unencumbered by the facial covering.
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Half of all Australians with a disability are not employed. This business model could fix that
When Paralympian Dylan Alcott won Australian of the Year in January, he took the opportunity to issue Australian business a challenge. “Of the 4.5 million people [living with disability in Australia], only 54% of them are employed. That number hasn’t moved in 30 years … It’s you who need to start changing your unconscious biases and leave the negative stigmas in the past,” the tennis star said.
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Job complaints policies don’t work for those they aim to protect
Most of us have no experience of a legal process or the ways and means of a court. Yet, it is this system where ultimately we may have to turn to enforce our legal rights at work, or anywhere else for that matter. The problem is obvious. The system that ultimately can provide a remedy, punishment, or act as a barrier against those that might trespass against us, is no more than the vaguest abstract notion to most people.
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16th February 2022



Contract Rules – In two landmark decisions, the High Court has restored some confidence in contracting with individual workers
Businesses can now have more confidence in sourcing work from individuals who agree to be treated as self-employed, provided the terms of their contracts are consistent with that characterisation. There is less risk that the practical reality of a working relationship might be invoked by a court to find such workers to be employees.
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Flexible Work Arrangements – Responding Flexibly
A recent NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) decision has highlighted the potential pitfalls that can arise when dealing with flexible work requests, and the benefits of attempting to accommodate an employee by proposing alternate arrangements.
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The other 'CTO': The emerging role of the chief transformation officer
While the role of the chief technology officer has long been considered critical to business, organisations are starting to recognise a different CTO: The chief transformation officer.
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What Are the Work Health and Safety Duties?
This article explains the WHS duties and offences in the workplace and outlines a recent case example in New South Wales.
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What Is an Employment Separation Certificate and When Do I Need to Provide One?
As an employer, you have legal obligations when you terminate an employee. For example, if you are an employer terminating an employee, you must complete an employment separation certificate upon request. Indeed, it is important that as an employer you take such obligations seriously to avoid issues in the future. Therefore, this article will explain what this certificate is for employers who have terminated an employee, to help you understand and navigate this obligation.
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Corporate Giant Accused of Systemic Workplace Bullying and Harassment
Another corporate global giant has been caught out covering up systemic bullying, assault and harassment within its Australian workplace.
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FWC Dismisses Privacy Concerns About Employers Collecting Sensitive Information
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) provides greater clarity for employers in relation to whether collecting sensitive information from employees regarding their vaccination status is a lawful and reasonable direction.
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Do I have to provide suitable employment?
An examination of two recent decisions of the South Australian Employment Tribunal regarding South Australia’s extremely generous obligations to provide suitable employment under the Return to Work Act 2014.
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Fighting at work can lead to disciplinary action, including termination
A worker involved in a physical altercation in the workplace can face serious disciplinary consequences, including the immediate termination of their employment.
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Even bosses are giving up on the five-day office week
Offices are getting busier. Yet vast numbers of desks still remain empty. Even with COVID-19 case numbers flat or falling in the UK, US and much of Europe, many employees are still actively choosing to work from home for at least part of the week. It’s increasingly hard for managers to claim that their offices will simply fill up when the virus abates.
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2 February 2022



Workplace commission rejects an employee’s bid to work remotely from interstate
A workplace tribunal has found a Queensland employer’s decision to reject a worker’s request to work remotely was “fair and reasonable” in a case that could foreshadow an end to the widespread shift towards working from home.
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65,000 Belgian workers given right to ignore their boss after hours
Thousands of Belgian federal employees will be given the legal right to ignore work calls or emails outside of business hours from Tuesday.
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Reputational Risk – FWC Upholds Dismissal of Employee who Breached Stay-at-Home Orders
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) demonstrates that conduct by an employee which creates reputational risk can be a valid reason for dismissal. In this case, an employee’s attendance at a violent protest in breach of Victorian stay-at-home orders presented enough of a reputational risk to warrant his dismissal.
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Breaking down an employer’s ability to collect and store an employee’s vaccination status under the Privacy Act
With a rising number of employees claiming that asking for their vaccination status is a ‘breach of their privacy’, it is important for employers to understand their rights and obligations under the Privacy Act.
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Employer fined $124,000 for injuries sustained by teenager on 14-day work trial who repeatedly failed to follow instructions
In an important lesson for employers, this case demonstrates that a worker’s disobedience or failure to follow instructions does not excuse inadequate safe work procedures and training.
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Employers lure talent with flexible hours in tourism job boom
Over the past two years Australians who love travel will undoubtedly have felt the impact of COVID-19 restrictions. But lockdowns impacted tourism operators too, and as we open up, so do careers in an industry that in 2019-2020 directly employed 621,000 Australians.
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Staff could walk out on the job unless they get RATs free of charge
Unions are threatening to walk off the job unless employers give out elusive rapid antigen tests (RATs) free of charge — but with shortages predicted ’til February, a stalemate could see Australia’s already-choked supply chains placed under greater strain.
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Repeated instances of unreasonable behaviour do not necessarily constitute workplace bullying
To constitute bullying in the workplace, the test of ‘repeatedly behaving unreasonably towards an employee’ requires more than a mere finding that unreasonable behaviour has occurred repeatedly. While this appears confusing, it was confirmed and explained by the Industrial Court of Queensland in the recent case of Greenall v State of Queensland (Queensland Corrective Services) [2021] ICQ 19.
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Leave options for self-isolating employees
As an employer, it is very likely you will be required to consider how to best manage a situation where an employee either tests positive to COVID-19, is caring for someone with COVID-19, or is required by a government directive to self-isolate as a close contact.
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27 January 2022



Reworking the week: Let’s lose a day and find more time for life
What can the rest of the world teach us about beating occupational fatigue?
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More than two in five Australians seek workplace flexibility
More than two in five (41 per cent) Australians indicate that having the option of full flexibility – regarding days, hours and location – for everyone would be the best working model for their team. This compares to 19 per cent preferring that all employees are together at the worksite and 10 per cent preferring that all employees work fully remote.
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Global HR Trend Watch - Wrapping up 2021, Moving into 2022
The pandemic continues to shape workplace policies and practices, with an increasing move towards Mandatory Vaccination for workers, continued hybrid and remote working arrangements, ongoing changes to travel restrictions and more. Meanwhile, legal frameworks are evolving as governments step up their inclusion and diversity agendas, with Pay Transparency gaining traction in the US, a proposed Pay Transparency Directive on the horizon in Europe and the Work-Life Balance Directive due to be implemented this year. Other trends in local labor regulations include changes in Employee Privacy Rights and a myriad of pandemic-related measures for employers to keep up with as they prioritize compliance across their operations in the coming year.
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Everything You Should Stop Doing on Your Work Computer
Employee monitoring software — which you can safely expect to be installed on your work-issued computer — allows your workplace to view every site you visit, every email you’ve sent, and even all the personal passwords you save.
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Can employers mandate the booster shot?
With the emergence of the COVID-19 booster vaccination over recent months, you may be wondering whether the booster can, or in fact should, be mandated in the workplace.
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QIRC rejects employee request for remote working arrangements
As we see many businesses returning to their offices after lengthy periods of working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are likely to receive an increase in requests for remote working arrangements. Employers will need to balance the employee desires for remote working arrangements with the need to meet business operational requirements.
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The Omicron workplace safety dilemma
While some State Governments have reduced the isolation requirements in health orders, especially for workers employed in health care or other critical industries or functions, employers still need to be mindful of their obligations under workplace health and safety legislation.
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What it takes to get an FWC order to stop sexual harassment
On 24 December 2021, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) dismissed the first application to be heard based on the newly-legislated anti-sexual harassment provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), in the decision of THDL [2021] FWC 6692. The decision to dismiss the application was based on a finding that there was no ongoing risk of bullying or sexual harassment to the relevant worker.
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FWC upholds dismissal of unvaccinated aged care worker
An unvaccinated aged care sector worker in Victoria, who was dismissed for incapacity to perform his job, has failed in an unfair dismissal application.
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19th January 2022



15 jobs on the rise in Australia
Human resources and technology-focused roles have been the fastest-growing job titles over the past five years, according to LinkedIn.
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Diversity in the workplace must be matched with an atmosphere of genuine inclusion
Diversity initiatives often originate in the belief that a true meritocracy can be achieved only by creating an environment in which everyone has the same chance of succeeding. Yet there is no blueprint for creating a true meritocracy. It may not even be possible.
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Engineer unfairly dismissed due to lack of procedural fairness
When considering whether a dismissal is unfair, the Fair Work Commission (the "FWC") must be satisfied that the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. An important consideration in this decision is whether the employee was afforded procedural fairness.
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Employee surveillance kills workplace culture dead
Spying on your team might excite those in the corner offices in the proverbial ivory towers, yet nothing destroys trust like Big Brother. Never before has staff retention been so important. And never before has organisational culture been so influential in avoiding the costs associated with recruitment and onboarding.
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The COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme is now live! What compensation is payable?
This article will look at the eligibility requirements, what compensation is payable, how to claim and how to dispute a rejected claim.
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Worker dismissal for protesting against vaccine mandates was lawful, Fair Work Commission finds
The Fair Work tribunal has upheld a company’s decision to immediately terminate a construction industry worker after he attended rallies in Melbourne outside the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) office in the CBD.
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Why we need more ‘me’ time at work
The "always on" work culture was already a problem before the pandemic. It started with the advent of email, accelerated with smartphones, and exploded during the pandemic. Particularly for those with jobs that allow working from home, 8-5 isn't even a guideline anymore. Emails, texts and Slack messages come in at all hours, making it hard to ever truly unplug from work.
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If I get COVID on annual leave, can I use sick leave instead?
After an exhausting year fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, many Australians were looking forward to switching off for a summer break. As we all know, the Omicron variant had other ideas.
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12th January 2022

Your Head of H.R. Is Now Basically the School Nurse

Vaccine mandates. Boosters. Exemptions. Testing protocol. Just a handful of public health questions that human resources departments now have to answer. Just as the Covid-19 crisis made amateur epidemiologists of people trying to go about their daily lives, it also forced H.R. professionals, especially those at small and midsize businesses, into a new focus on public health. As companies weighed when to return to the office, whether to require coronavirus vaccines and what sort of exemptions from those rules to allow, it was often H.R. directors who were asked to lead those efforts. It was no longer sufficient for these professionals to manage the job satisfaction and career development of their colleagues. Suddenly, they were also charged with monitoring their health, safety and views on immunization.
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Job ads offering permanent work from home arrangements increased by 95% in 2021. Experts say it’s now the defining factor in attracting highly-skilled workers.
The number of ads for Australian jobs offering work from home arrangements skyrocketed in 2021, new research shows. Younger companies operating for two years or less recorded a greater proportion of WFH job ads. Experts say flexible work policies are now a defining factor in attracting talent.
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Sacked for Being Vaxxed
A New South Wales woman is seeking damages for unfair dismissal after she was allegedly fired from her job for having the Covid-19 vaccination. Lainie Chait says she was dismissed by the Newcastle-based Church of Ubuntu last October after her boss found out that she had been vaccinated against Covid-19.
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Who pays compensation if you are injured from the COVID-19 vaccine?
With the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines increasing and the introduction of COVID related directives, associated penalties, and restrictions if not vaccinated set to remain, is it time for Australia to establish a no-fault vaccine injury compensation scheme? In this blog, we look at where the Federal Government is to date with a compensation scheme, how it will work, what evidence will be required and, importantly, what compensation may be currently available.
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Independent Contractors – how will the High Court approach the issue?
There are two cases currently before the High Court involving the distinction between independent contractors and employees. One of those cases involves a traditional two party relationship and the other involves a labour hire relationship. The question many practitioners are now asking is how will the approach the High Court took in Rossato, which concerned whether an employee was a casual, affect these two cases?
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Working from home shouldn’t hinder promotion chances
Working from home during Sydney’s four-month COVID-19 lockdown didn’t stop Tracy Floro getting a promotion. She was elevated to partner at Ernst & Young, one of the world’s biggest professional services companies, in July. “During my promotion I didn’t ever feel hamstrung by lockdown,” she said. “I don’t believe that additional face time in an office environment is necessarily the key factor in a successful career.” Swinburne University of Technology researcher John Hopkins said while working from home might ordinarily hamper chances of progression, the pandemic had “levelled the playing field” for many.
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Does knowledge of a candidate's salary history affect the hiring process?
New research explores the impact of voluntary disclosures of salary history on wage offers and hiring. The researchers conclude that employers see disclosing salary as a positive signal of candidate quality.
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More than half of HR professionals factor vaccine status into hiring decisions. Is it legal?
Human resources experts are warning recruiters to be careful of their legal obligations when screening candidates, after a study found more than half of HR professionals said they factor applicants’ vaccine status into hiring decisions. The Australian HR Institute surveyed 760 HR professionals across Australia in late November, finding that 59% of respondents said they consider the vaccination status of job candidates when making recruitment decisions. Meanwhile, 10% said they don’t, and the remaining 31% were unsure.
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Western Australia's vaccine mandate deadline passes for majority of workforce
The majority of the West Australian workforce subject to a vaccine mandate must have had their first or second dose by today, with those who do not comply risking heavy penalties. On October 20, the West Australian government announced about 75 per cent of the workforce would have to be vaccinated by early 2022.
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22nd December 2021



Why the gig economy needs its own place in Australia’s industrial relations system
Spare a thought for the gig worker this holiday season. They are the connective tissue that held us together during a very difficult two years, delivering us food and goodies while in lockdown and getting us safely from point A to point B when public transport became too scary. Yet, despite our increased reliance on the industry, the status of the gig worker remains in limbo. The gig economy has been around for over 10 years and by now, most are aware of the issue. Gig workers are engaged as independent contractors. However, many believe the substance of gig work is better characterised as employment, arguing workers are entitled to leave benefits, insurance coverage, and unfair dismissal protection.
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The majority of Australian workers keen to quit their jobs are looking to change industries, LinkedIn data reveals
Amid fears Australia would succumb to the ‘Great Resignation’ that has seen workers leaving the US workforce in droves, employment figures instead show the country experienced a reshuffle instead, according to LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s annual Workforce Confidence Index showed that among those open to changing jobs, nearly six out of 10 are considering a change in industry.The results echo similar data released by LinkedIn in November that showed employees are transitioning to new jobs at the fastest pace since the start of the pandemic, with 26% of Australian workers changing jobs in October compared with the same month in 2019.
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Qantas facing a fine for sacking 2000 crew despite court ruling
Qantas is facing a fine and paying compensation to workers for sacking 2000 ground crew after the Federal Court rejected a union bid for it to reinstate the personnel. In July, the court found the airline had acted unlawfully when it sacked the baggage handlers, aircraft towing crews, cleaners and other ground workers in November 2020 because it was partly motivated by a desire to avoid future industrial disputes with the unionised workforce.
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Christmas party drink limit set at BHP, Rio Tinto, Woodside
If you've ever had to organise your work Christmas party, you've probably wondered if you've ordered enough food and chosen the right venue. But should party planners and employers also be considering how much alcohol is too much? BHP, Woodside and Rio Tinto have and decided four alcoholic drinks per person was the maximum they would serve staff at their Christmas functions this year.
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‘This is just like Groundhog Day’: Omicron wrecks plans for office return
Just as it seemed like corporate America was on a path toward normalcy, a new wave of COVID uncertainty is upending business plans from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. The latest virus resurgence is putting bosses in a tough spot navigating employee safety and constantly shifting plans for office work, business travel and social gatherings after almost two years of COVID confusion. At the same time, many people have largely resumed normal activities in their personal lives, from dining out to attending big events, creating a disconnect between what’s happening at jobs and at home.
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How to keep the 'human' in human resources with AI-based tools
The past decade has brought a rapid expansion in the availability of and interest in artificial intelligence (AI) based tools to do HR tasks, but currently these tools risk being on the one hand oversold while at the same time overly feared. These opposing forces in turn make it difficult to implement AI-based HR tools in an effective and responsible way. AI-based HR tools come in a wide range of forms, aiming to take on some aspect of HR work such as hiring, training, benefits, or employee engagement. They can be oversold when their creators rely on the aura and mystery surrounding AI to promote their product, furthering the belief that AI is all-powerful and incomprehensible to the average person.
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WA announces mandatory COVID booster shots for some workers, extends hard border across country
Western Australia has become the first jurisdiction to introduce mandatory COVID-19 booster shots for certain sectors of its population. More than one million WA workers will be required to get vaccine booster shots, under an expanded mandate announced by Premier Mark McGowan. All workers who were previously required to get two doses of the jab will now also be required to get a booster shot within one month of becoming eligible.
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Man sacked over pizza awarded quarter of a million for unlawful termination
A man who was sacked for buying a pizza on his corporate credit card has been awarded $276,000 for unlawful termination. The man’s employer terminated him for what it called “serious misconduct”. The company claimed the man had taken a larger hotel room than necessary for a business trip to Melbourne, where his wife and two children joined him. The man filed an unlawful termination claim in the NSW District Court.
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And the First Vaccine Mandate to get the Flick goes to BHP
Although the Fair Work Commission has seemed to take an employer friendly approach when dealing with challenges to employer vaccination mandates over the last 12 months, the recent rejection of BHP’s vaccination mandate reminds us that the Commission is not willing to overlook the basic legal standards required of an enforceable employer direction. An employer direction must be lawful and reasonable to be valid. On 3 December 2021, the full bench of the Commission found that BHP failed to adequately consult with workers at its Mount Arthur mine before it mandated vaccination deadlines as a condition of site entry. It therefore failed to make a lawful and reasonable employer direction.
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The alignment of statute and common law: defining a casual employee
On 27 March 2021 the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery Act 2021 (Cth) (“Amending Legislation”) amended the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (“FWA”) and inserted a definition of “casual employee”. This new definition provides that a person’s status as a casual employee is determined at the beginning of the employment relationship, regardless of subsequent conduct. It is important to note that the Amending Legislation applies to offers of employment that were given before, on, or after commencement, but not in place of binding decisions made by courts before the Amending Legislation.
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New ruling on fruit picking wages shakes up farming industry
In a major shake-up in the horticultural farming sector, employers will have to pay minimum fruit picking wages to their workers under a new decision by the full bench of the Fair Work Commission. This means if you earn less than $25 per hour fruit picking in Australia, the farm employer is breaking the law. Penalties for underpaying employees can be as high as $126,000. Directors can also be held personally liable and fined. The ruling will effectively abolish “piece rates” which paid a “pieceworker” according to how much fruit or vegetables they pick in a shift, rather than being paid by the hour.
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15th December 2021



Consultation is Key – FWCFB Rejects Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Direction
The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (“FWCFB”) has found an employer’s efforts to put in place a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement for entry onto its sites has fallen short of its consultation obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (the “WHS Act”). While confirming the key focal points for employers considering the introduction of a mandatory vaccination policy, the decision emphasises the criticality of consultation before a decision is made with respect to its adoption and implementation, and that a failure to adequately consult is likely to render any subsequent direction, unreasonable.
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Mandatory vaccination policies: “a strong case in favour”
If the average punter was to solely rely on media reports on the recent Full Bench Fair Work Commission decision in CFMMEU v Mt Arthur Coal Pty Ltd [2021] FWCFB 6059, and unhelpful headlines like ‘policy not lawful and reasonable’, then they could be forgiven for having a false sense of the merit of mandatory vaccination policies. While the Commission found that Mt Arthur’s direction to workers at its Mine to be vaccinated was ‘unreasonable’ on this occasion, it did so on the basis of an apparent lack of consultation in the factual circumstances of this case.
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Government directions for "critical" businesses released
The government has today introduced its access directions, requiring vaccination for critical workers across a large range of industries. Which premises do these apply to? Any critical business site, which means a "critical accomodation premises", or a "critical hospitality premises", or a "critical retail, service or distribution premises".
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Picturing an inclusive, accessible and sustainable future
Last week, on Friday 3 December, we recognised the International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). This day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and to celebrate their achievements and contributions. Each year, the United Nations announces a theme, and for 2021, the focus is on ‘leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’.
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Workplace consultation crucial when mandating vaccination
Many employees wonder whether their employer can lawfully direct them to obtain a vaccination. Complexities including vaccine aversion and the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic have influenced the approach taken by Australian courts and tribunals in response to employer mandated COVID-19 vaccination. A recent decision of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has again considered the lawfulness of an employer’s vaccine mandate.
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Employer policies and political opinions
The question of how far employer policies can apply to the personal lives of employees is age old. It is one that has become relevant again amid the climate of social and political uncertainty facilitated by COVID-19. This question creates, and is likely to keep creating, conflict between employers and employees. A recent example of this is seen in the court action brought against the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) by an ex-employee, whose employment was terminated after she expressed a political opinion on LinkedIn.
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A Lesson for Employers in Coles’ perpetual underpayment
Underpayment of wages happens when an employee or worker is paid less than their minimum legal entitlement. The Fair Work Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) explains that it happens often because of a mistake or payroll error, which can lead to serious penalties if not rectified quickly and permanently. However, it can also happen intentionally (i.e. wage theft) as is often seen in amongst minority groups of workers. Although underpayment is particularly rife in industries, such as the building and construction industry, it does not discriminate, and is an ongoing, widespread concern across the Australian workforce.
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Work-related psychological injury - a sensitive and complex area
For reasons we all understand well, the last two years have seen major changes in how we work. With that has come challenges for both employers and employees in how to manage psychological wellbeing, highlighting the fact that workplaces are made up of human beings, who each respond to life’s – and work’s – challenges differently. From what we are seeing at Bartier Perry, councils are no exception.
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Out of my comfort zone, I’m rediscovering the joys of the office
In theory, working from home should have suited me down to the ground. I’m an introvert and a creature of habit; working from home, with my thrice daily walks around my neighbourhood, an extra hour each day thanks to the absence of a commute, my own cosy little routine should have been idyllic. But this last fortnight, I have been surprised by a decided lifting of the heart. Once again, there is a spring in my step which has been missing for too long.
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Pregnant pause leaves job seekers and employers out of sync
Nurse Lydia Joyce was two days away from starting a new job when she had her second miscarriage. “I thought, who is going to hire someone that has to go on leave straight away? I thought it was better to tell them I had gastro rather than tell them the truth,” Ms Joyce, 37, from Clyde, says. Worried about the stigma around pregnancy and miscarriage, she didn’t tell anyone what she was going through and started work a few days later. A survey conducted by hiring platform Indeed found that employees and employers are out of sync when it comes to recruitment.
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8th December 2021



Stoppage of Work – Wrongly Stood Down Worker Failed to Share the Burden
A recent decision by the Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) demonstrates that while employers must ensure that they have a legitimate reason to stand down employees, in some circumstances employees will have a part to play in sharing the burden of dealing with COVID-19.
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Tribunal: actions to address underperformance were reasonable
The Tribunal was asked to consider liability for a psychological condition, claimed to have been caused by bullying and harassment at the Department of Home Affairs.
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Tribunal finds lower back injury not caused by prolonged sitting/standing at government department
The Tribunal was asked to determine liability for a lower back injury claimed to have been sustained due to prolonged sitting and standing in the workplace.
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Queensland Businesses Vow Not to Discriminate Against the Unvaccinated
After months of living across closed borders, the Queensland hospitality and tourism industries, which have been the hardest hit financially and had been looking forward to borders being opened by Christmas, have been hit with another blow: the banning of unvaccinated people from their premises.
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Prediction: 2022 will be the year of workers’ compensation claims by work-from-homers
Results from a 2019 survey, conducted by Melbourne University’s HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia), showed that only around 8% of employees had a formal work-from-home arrangement averaging one day per week.
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Paralympian Katie Kelly is helping workplaces be more inclusive
It's important we consider people in our workplace, and where they are in both life cycle and with their disability.
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How Linguix, an AI Writing Assistant and Coach, Helps to Overcome Language Barrier in the Workplace
Because of the pandemic, a lot of businesses have shifted to remote work, allowing talented non-native speakers to join predominantly English-speaking companies. Despite all the advantages, there is one significant issue that affects successful teamwork and communication–the English language proficiency level.
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Women do 21 hours more unpaid work than men a week, national survey finds
The annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (Hilda) survey is a nationally representative study involving interviews with 17,500 people in 9,500 households. This year’s report, released on Tuesday and compiled by the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Institute, covers data from 2019, before the massive social and economic upheaval caused by Covid-19.
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Migrants in Australia to be fast-tracked into jobs to fill shortages, Employment Minister Stuart Robert announces
Migrants will be fast-tracked into jobs to help meet Australia’s urgent workforce needs as it recovers from the Covid pandemic.
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1st December 2021

Asbestos exposure: can I make a compensation claim?
It is easy with the benefit of hindsight to see that asbestos exposure in millions of Australian workers would cause such significant harm and damage in the form of asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases.
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Government introduces the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021(Cth)
This week the Morrison Government has introduced into Parliament the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 (Cth) (Bill) . The Bill seeks to make it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the ground of religious belief or activity in various areas of public life, including work, education, access to premises and the provision of goods, services and accommodation. However, it permits faith-based employers to discriminate against workers based on their “religious belief or activity” if it is connected to their position as an employee or prevents them performing inherent requirements.
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Public school teachers defy order to cancel planned December strike
The NSW Teachers Federation says a strike planned for next week will go ahead, despite the Industrial Relations Commission demanding it be called off. Public school teachers across the state voted on the weekend to strike on December 7 over pay and staff shortages.
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Reminder: Changes To Sexual Harassment Legislation
Following changes made to the Sexual Harassment Legislation, Australian employees are now better protected from sexual harassment from their colleagues in an attempt to make the workplace more safe. For a detailed summary of the changes made to the legislation, please refer to our previous blog titled Changes To Sexual Harassment Legislation.
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How the Covid pandemic exposed deep cracks in the Australian farm labour model
The Covid pandemic turned off the cheap labour tap. That has delivered a “come to Jesus” moment for employers of farm labour. But people shortages are not a new thing in the bush. The underemployment dilemma has been building for a while. John Goldsmith, the former principal of Longerenong Agricultural College, said a decade ago: “It’s not a skills shortage, it’s a people shortage.”
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Lockdowns have mostly ended, but the scarcity of international students is impacting Australian businesses
Howin Chui has been running nightclubs in Sydney for 10 years, but now describes the place as a "dead city". Sydney's recent lockdown had a "very, very big" impact on his businesses, including Chinatown's Ni Hao Bar, both through a lack of customers and understaffing. The federal budget projects COVID border closures caused the first fall in migration since 1946, with overseas migration falling sharply and a net outflow of 71,600 people during 2020-21, exacerbating Australia's existing labour shortages.
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Sex discrimination commissioner finds gender inequality key driver of toxic culture in federal parliament
Australia’s sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, has recommended a significant overhaul of federal parliament’s toxic workplace culture after handing down her landmark report that found one in three staffers interviewed had been sexually harassed. The Jenkins inquiry into parliament’s workplace culture was triggered after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped after hours in a ministerial office in March 2019. Higgins’ allegations are the subject of separate criminal proceedings.
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Australia relies on migrants to fill job shortages but many are exploited, survey reveals
Sixty-five per cent of temporary visa holders in Australia have experienced underpayment, while one in four say they have been exploited in the workplace, a survey has found.
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Record number of apprentices begin training – but fewer are completing it
State and federal governments are under pressure to boost low apprenticeship completion rates in the face of skills shortages and an expected infrastructure boom. Data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research shows just 55.1 per cent of apprentices across a range of trades who started their training in 2016 had completed it by July this year – a decrease of 2.5 percentage points from the 2015 cohort.
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To condemn or condone: the pressure to pick a side
Question: There is a person at my work who really splits opinions. I’ve heard him called “divisive”, “larger than life” and “the best thing to ever happen to this organisation”. During a discussion among our team, he was described as basically evil by one person and in the most glowing terms by someone else. I was asked where I “stood” on this character and said I wasn’t sure. I admitted I hadn’t had as much direct involvement with this person as many of my colleagues and didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about him. I said I didn’t worship or hate him.
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One in five plan to continue working from home one or more days
Up to one in five Australians are likely to keep working from home at least part of the week according to new research which also found an increase in the number of people moving out of the cities. The CSIRO research analysed NBN internet data of more than 8 million households, census data and Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys.
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24th November 2021

What is workplace discrimination and what to do if you think you are a victim
Every two years, the Diversity Council of Australia publishes the Inclusion@Work Index, a study that maps inclusion and harassment and discrimination across the Australian workforce.  The next Index is being released in December this year.  But what is workplace discrimination exactly? 
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Paramedic loses challenge to COVID-19 vaccine mandates
New South Wales paramedic John Larter has lost his challenge to COVID-19 vaccination mandates, and could now also lose his job. The New South Wales Supreme Court dismissed Mr Larter’s challenge to provisions in the state’s current public health order which prohibit healthcare workers from continuing in their employment if they are not fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption by 30 November 2021.
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Employers warned of COVID-related workers' compensation risks when Queensland opens borders
Businesses could face workers' compensation claims if staff can prove their employers failed to protect them from catching COVID-19 at work. But legal experts warn that it is not yet clear how far Queensland businesses would need to go to demonstrate they took adequate precautions to keep their staff safe.
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Push to make more employers report progress of workplace gender equality
More businesses may be forced to report things, such as whether they pay superannuation on parental leave, how much their chief executive is paid and provide a clearer breakdown of wages, if recommendations to a government review of the Workplace Gender Equality Act are taken up. The suggested changes were made in a submission by the agency in charge of implementing the act, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)
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New laws to bolster employment protections in WA inch closer
McGowan Government passes the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 in the Legislative Assembly. The Bill will provide the McGowan Government the power to start the process to bring local government industrial relations within the State industrial relations system.
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Workers Compensation entitlements for consequential injuries
Construction worker John suffered an injury to his left shoulder whilst at work. Due to the ongoing symptoms he was experiencing, over time John become reliant on his right shoulder to compensate for his injured left shoulder. As a result of his overreliance on his right shoulder, John then began to experience symptoms in his right shoulder including pain and loss of range of movement.
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Australians working 1.5 hours more unpaid overtime each week compared with pre-Covid
The average Australian is working 1.5 hours more unpaid overtime each week since the start of the Covid pandemic, according to a new survey. The poll, which used a nationally representative sample, found the average employed Australian is working 6.13 hours unpaid each week in 2021, up from 5.25 hours in 2020 and 4.62 hours in 2019.
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Employee vaccinations a complex decision
Like the Pat Benatar song, we are currently in a world where the majority of people are saying ‘hit me with your best shot’ and getting one of the vaccines for Coronavirus. There are still some people, however, who are unwilling or reluctant to get a vaccine. All businesses, including those in regional areas, will be left with a difficult decision about what to do in relation to unvaccinated people, whether that is employees, contractors or customers.
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COVID-19 workplace vaccination policies – FAQs
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedent impact on employment and workplace conditions generally. Now that COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more readily available, there is an increase in employers seeking to implement mandatory vaccination policies. Here we have answered some of the frequently asked questions about vaccine requirements in the workplace.
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What Do I need to know about hiring Christmas casual employees?
With Christmas shopping lists getting longer and longer, retail stores are starting to get busier and busier. As a result, it is usual for retail businesses to employ extra staff for the Christmas period to manage increased customers who are enjoying the Christmas specials. When you employ a worker for a short period, this is known as casual employment. As an employer, you must understand your obligations to your employees and what you need to consider when hiring Christmas casual employees.
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17th November 2021

The death of the workplace as we know it may have been exaggerated
As companies prepare for a post-pandemic world, the much-mooted “hub and spoke” workplace model is evolving in unexpected ways. Forget the idea of a city-centre office hub and a handful of smaller, suburban spoke offices. Most large corporates are doubling down on existing prime locations, hoping to lure workers back to the office with swish buildings and proximity to restaurants and shops. In the new hybrid set-up, the low-cost, commute-free spoke is your own home.
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When casual becomes committed
One of the key amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) required employers (with 15 or more employees) to proactively offer casual who were eligible, the opportunity to convert to permanent employment. These changes affected every national system employer in Australia that employs casual employees.
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Driver shortage, heavy compliance making life hard for trucking companies
A shortage of workers is exposing deep-set issues within the road transport industry, with regional Victorian trucking bosses describing mounting issues over safety and properly trained drivers. They say the strain is showing in supply chains with some regional trucking companies unable to find drivers to run routes.
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In Tasmania's first, stonemasonry pleads guilty after workers exposed to risk of silicosis
A Hobart stonemasonry business has pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches that exposed workers to the risk of developing the incurable lung disease silicosis. It's the first successful prosecution in Tasmania for engineered stone benchtop silica-related work health and safety offences and only the second in Australia.
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Rise in reports of sexual harassment in public service during lockdown
Reports of sexual harassment in the public service have slightly increased despite months of COVID-19 lockdown when many people were working from home. The NSW Public Service Commission’s annual people matter employee survey which was open to 400,000 workers from August 23 until September 17 suggests that the four months of lockdown failed to lower the proportion of people who had experienced sexual harassment or bullying.
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Australia’s version of the ‘great resignation’ revealed as staff swap jobs
The post-lockdown recovery is driving a resurgence in job hopping, in Australia’s version of the “great resignation”, after employees stayed put and focused on retaining work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Figures from professional networking site LinkedIn provided to The Sun-Herald show a 26 per cent jump in Australian workers moving from one company to another in October, compared with the same time in 2019, before the pandemic.
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Your workplace rights to paid or unpaid leave and free counselling to escape domestic violence
More Australian employers are implementing policies to fight domestic and family violence, recognising it's a workplace health and safety issue. According to a report released by the Champions of Change Coalition this week, it is a problem costing employers $2 billion annually because of absenteeism and lost productivity. How do you tell your boss that you are in an abusive relationship?
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How to safely manage COVID-19 in the workplace
As we move closer to full reopening in Victoria and NSW, the challenge for businesses is how to reopen safely. Open-plan offices, common areas such as meeting rooms and kitchens, hot-desking and the importance of air ventilation are factors that impact the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted in the office. But for all businesses across Australia, even those not under lockdown, the key emerging issue is the impact on safety, if any, of the interaction between unvaccinated workers and visitors.
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NSW workers compensation entitlements when working from home
One of the biggest surprises that has emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is the ability for a large number of workers to productively work from home (or WFH as it has come to be known). With WFH options continuing for many workers even after the pandemic, this poses the question, “What are my workers compensation entitlements if injured while working from home?”
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Commencement of stop sexual harassment orders in the Fair Work Commission will provide new protections for workers
From 11 November 2021, a worker who has been sexually harassed at work will be able to apply to the Fair Work Commission (Commission) for an order to stop the sexual harassment. It is now time for businesses to urgently review their sexual harassment policies and complaint handling processes. What is a stop sexual harassment order?
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10th November 2021

Lawsuits and workers compensation claims to rise as workers catch COVID
Workers compensation claims are expected to rise as COVID-19 restrictions ease and borders reopen, leaving businesses open to being sued by staff if they get sick at work. In Australia since the pandemic began there have been around 3,000 COVID-19 related workers compensation claims, according to data obtained by the ABC from state and territory agencies.
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Domestic violence was treated by workplaces as personal, now it's a $2b business problem
It takes, on average, seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship and about $18,000 and 141 hours to extricate oneself. But what if your employer helped you escape the situation? Kristy McKellar wishes she had the support of her employer when she was trying to leave her former partner years ago.
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The truth behind workplace lies that form the norm
Lying at work is probably more common than we appreciate, until we stop to consider all the ways in which we deploy untruths. It can start with exaggerations and falsehoods when applying for jobs. Once in place, we may express agreement in meetings with ideas we think are wrong to keep the peace. We may be tempted to call in sick tomorrow (I write this on Melbourne Cup day). We lie because it is political and strategic for us to do so. Furthermore, we should not be surprised therefore to discover that capital-P politics is no different if recent world events are anything to go by.
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Injured SA workers entitled to higher compensation payouts following High Court ruling
Injured South Australian workers will be entitled to hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of additional compensation following a High Court ruling. The man at the centre of the complex legal case, Shane Summerfield, said he hoped it would make it easier for others to get adequate payouts.
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What can you do when a workplace gets too loud?
Struggling in a loud environment is difficult under the best circumstances, but I know well that it’s particularly difficult for people who can’t concentrate on work with voices in their ear. I’m certainly one of them. I can’t listen to music with words when I’m working, and if someone’s talking in the background or if I can hear any kind of speech around me, I’m liable to include someone else’s words or phrases in what I’m writing.
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The Great Resignation: can you feel the winds of change?
It is said that in the post-lockdown era the workplace will be beset with what has become known as The Great Resignation. This is the idea that because of the pandemic, and a two-year stoppage in immigration causing a skills crunch, the skilled workers of the world are now primed and ready to resign en masse in order to take up better, more lucrative, offers.
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Not unfair dismissal for failing to vaccinate
A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has refused an appeal of an unfair dismissal application related to an employee’s defiance to obey a mandated workplace vaccination policy. The decision of Jennifer Kimber v Sapphire Coast Community Aged Care Ltd [2021] FWCFB 6015 has confirmed that a vaccination direction issued by Sapphire Community Aged Care was both lawful and reasonable in the circumstances, and that the employee’s noncompliance to be vaccinated rendered her unable to perform the inherent requirement for the role.
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Department of Justice fined over attacks on staff, including infamous guitar 'scalping'
Victoria's Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) has been fined $100,000 for failing to provide a safe workplace at its youth justice facilities, after two staff members were seriously injured in 2018. But a lawyer representing a female worker who was bashed with a guitar told the ABC the same authority that prosecuted DJSC over the incident had determined the injury as not serious.
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Sexual harassment in the workplace
Recommendations made in the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect at Work Report (2020) have now been implemented in the new Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill (Respect at Work Bill), which is expected to become law imminently. The Respect at Work Bill has addressed a number of the recommendations made (but not all of them) by clarifying and expanding on the operation of existing laws, and proposing amendments to a number of key laws.
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Clarity at last! When an employee’s complaint qualifies as a workplace right
The Fair Work Act 2009 prohibits employers from taking “adverse action” against an employee (including dismissal) because the employee has, or has not, exercised, or proposes to exercise a “workplace right”. Among other things, an employee has a “workplace right” if they are “able to make a complaint or inquiry in relation to his or her employment”. On first read, it may seem an employee has a workplace right to complain about anything to do with their employment.
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3 November 2021

Can my redundancy payment be reduced by my employer?
If the requirements for redundancy, as set out in the Fair Work Act, are met, an employee is ordinarily entitled to redundancy pay depending on the size of their employer and their length of service. However, employers are increasingly attempting to utilise a provision of the Act to reduce an employee’s entitlement to their redundancy pay.
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Tribunal upholds employer’s consultation steps and directions about COVID-19 vaccination
Mandatory vaccination is on the minds of many Australian employers and employees, but there is a lot of uncertainty amongst employers about how to go about it. The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) recently handed down a decision that helps explain the steps an employer needs to take when consulting about mandatory vaccination requirements. It also addresses what an employer does not need to do.
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Employers trying to escape psychological injury and stress claims
Psychological injuries can be just as debilitating as physical injuries, and yet there remains a stigma about seeking help and claiming compensation that you rightfully deserve. In this article, we will outline some of the common problems encountered in dealing with psychological injury claims, and how we have successfully overcome them in the past.
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Laws introduced to boost employment protections
The McGowan Government will today introduce the Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 into State Parliament to modernise Western Australia’s employment laws. The Bill implements the Government’s election commitments to make Easter Sunday a public holiday from 2022, and to introduce an entitlement to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year for all employees.
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PwC fires racist staff and fines partners for not intervening
Two of PwC Australia’s senior human resources specialists have been asked to leave the firm, following an internal investigation into alleged incidents of racism. The behaviour in question occurred during a staff event, and a “number of partners” who also attended but failed to intervene have also been penalised.
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Best HR software to manage employees in 2021
The best HR software makes it simple and easy to manage your employees, from hiring to firing, and from taxes and benefits. That could be a massive boon to your business, especially if you struggle to find the time to tackle HR tasks yourself or if you don't have an in-house department.
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Workplace deaths increase two years in row, report shows
Workplace fatalities have increased for a second year running according to data released this week. In a year that saw the Morrison Government reject including industrial manslaughter in model OHS laws, 194 workers lost their lives due to injuries at work.
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Qantas charged for standing down cleaner who raised COVID-19 concerns
Qantas has been charged with breaches of workplace safety law after it stood down an employee who raised concerns staff could be exposed to COVID-19 when cleaning an aircraft that arrived in Sydney from China early in the pandemic.
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Reports of epoch-shattering jobs change are a little overworked
Christmas has come early for a cabal of management consultants gifted “the great resignation” myth. They have pounced on figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in October that show the rate of people quitting their jobs in August 2021 had hit “a series high of 2.9 per cent”.
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What legal rights do you have if you catch COVID-19 at work?
The transition to living with COVID-19 makes contracting the virus at work a distinct possibility, even with high vaccination rates. So, what are your rights as an Australian employee if you catch COVID-19, particularly if you believe you have caught it while doing your job?
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27 October 2021

Refusal to Provide Urine Sample Costs Employee Job
The duty on employers to ensure the health and safety of workers includes mitigating the risks associated with drug and alcohol use, which are especially pronounced in industries such as construction, mining and transport. As such, employers in these industries are entitled to carry out workplace drug and alcohol testing to manage these risks. However, drug and alcohol testing is invasive and employers need to exercise caution when carrying out such testing.
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Sexist Dress Codes: Why Employers Should Walk a Mile in Their Employees’ Shoes
To avoid workplace sexual harassment, women should refrain from wearing “tight jeans and short shorts”. Such an eyebrow-raising statement from an employer may appear to be from a bygone era. Yet, this advice was actually delivered in 2013.
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“Right to Disconnect” After Hours in Victoria Signifies a Substantial Change to the Modern Working Environment
Police officers in Victoria have this week won the “right to disconnect” from work with a new clause that has been officially included into the Victoria Police Enterprise Agreement 2019 (Agreement). In essence, the clause directs the employer to respect an employee’s period of leave and rest days and provides that the employer is not permitted to contact an employee outside of the employee’s agreed working hours (unless it is a genuine emergency or welfare matter).
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Super Stapling – the new rules affecting employee onboarding processes
From 1 November 2021, employers need to ensure that their employee onboarding processes, payroll systems and contracts comply with the Government’s new super stapling requirements. These new rules are aimed at reducing the number of superannuation accounts that are established each time an employee commences a new role.
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Bullying policies and responding to complaints: is your house in order?
Two recent legal decisions have emphasised the importance of employers having an adequate workplace bullying policy or procedure and that a failure to have these in place (or having an inadequate policy or procedure), can have serious consequences.
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Employer liable to pay compensation for COVID-19 death
In what is believed to be the first decision of its kind, the Personal Injury Commission of New South Wales has found that an employee was in the course of his employment when he contracted COVID-19 and his employer was held liable to pay compensation to his widow. The decision in Sara v G & S Sara Pty Ltd [2021] NSWPIC 286 highlights the workers compensation risks faced by employers associated with COVID-19 and the importance of managing those risks.
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Skills Commission: Australian Jobs 2021 Edition
Australian Jobs gives an overview of trends in the Australian labour market. It is designed to support students, career advisers, job seekers, those considering future training and work and people interested in labour market issues.
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Unions are good for workers and good for society
Unions have a proud history in Australia of fighting for and winning improved rights and conditions for their members and for workers more generally. At Hall Payne, we think it is integral that these victories are continually recognised and celebrated so that society continues to appreciate the key role unions have played in Australia’s history; not just for workers but for their families and their communities.
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Radical workplace changes needed to improve work-life balance
Moves to keep work and home lives separate indicate once again how important maintaining a healthy “work-life balance” is for employers and employees. Both sides have a lot at stake.
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Disagreements over flexibility cause 'massive, growing divide' in 2021's final months
The divide between executives and staff over flexible work still has not been bridged entering the final months of 2021, creating two competing visions of the office's future, according to a recent multinational survey of executives and employees by Slack-owned think tank Future Forum.
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20 October 2021

Work safety poster leads to $200,000 damages award

A work safety poster has ended up costing $200,000 in damages after a court agreed it had made a female employee of Sydney Water feel like a "sex object". The problem was that the poster bore the words "Feel Great – Lubricate!" over a photo of the smiling female employee, who was stretching up and appearing to point to the word "lubricate".
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5 Key Questions Regarding Workplace Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment
There have been changes to the Fair Work Act and Sex Discrimination Act to adopt some recommendations from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report. So, it is a good time for employers to take stock and make sure they understand their obligations. To help, this article answers five key questions that employers frequently ask.
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Post-Employment Restriction Upheld by Court
The important role of post-employment restriction in protecting an employer’s legitimate business interests has again been highlighted in a recent decision of the NSW Supreme Court. In the decision, the Court upheld restraint clauses in the employment contracts of a Senior Manager and Sales Employee, finding that a nine-month post-employment restraint was reasonable for the purpose of protecting the employer’s confidential information.
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Update to Victorian mandatory vaccination requirements
This update summarises the key impacts on employers and the steps employers should take. It is a ‘must read’ for all Victorian employers.
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This proposed law would make employers liable for injuries arising from vaccine mandates
Fred Nile, a member of the Christian Democratic Party and the NSW Legislative Council, has introduced a Bill into State Parliament which would make employers who require their staff to be vaccinated liable for any injury, loss or damage caused by the vaccine.
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Working with children check (NSW)
This article explains what's involved in a WWCC, how it differs from a regular police check and some of the potential hurdles.
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Is it time for a public sector workforce 'right to disconnect' clause?
Hybrid models will continue as an established norm for the public sector workforce, bringing new challenges and opportunities for the post-covid workplace, according to a report by the UNSW Public Service Research Group.
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Four HR Trends That Are Driving The Future Of Work
The Covid-19 pandemic touched every corner of the globe, forcing countrywide lockdowns, disrupting business and driving HR departments around the world to make radical changes in how we operate.
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Unilever's HR chief: The future of work requires this key skill
Leena Nair talks about new programmes Unilever is experimenting with, from a 4-day work week in New Zealand to programs like U-Work, a model that joins the flexibility of contract work with the security (and benefits) of a traditional in-house role.
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13th October 2021



Court of Appeal finds 'heavily redacted' investigation report denied employee procedural fairness
The Victorian Court of Appeal (Court) recently held that the State of Victoria (by its department, the State Revenue Office) (SRO)’s “heavy” redaction of an investigation report into harassment claims against an employee, Mr Tobias Tucker, denied Mr Tucker “procedural fairness” and fell short of the SRO’s obligations.
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WA labour hire company and contractor penalised $29,000 for age discrimination
The Federal Court has penalised West Australian labour hire company, CoreStaff WA Pty Ltd, $20,000 and a WA based contractor, Gumala Enterprises Pty Ltd, $9,000. CoreStaff and Gumala Enterprises were found to have discriminated against a worker when they refused to hire a qualified 70 year old grader because of his age. The Court ordered 50 per cent of the penalties, totalling $14,500, be paid to the affected worker who was denied the opportunity to work.
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Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace: the new norm?
Encouraging, rather than coercing, employees to get vaccinated will likely be favoured by most employers. But if this is insufficient, what options do employers have open to them? What are the objections to mandatory vaccination policies in the workplace? And, more importantly, can these issues be addressed both from a legal and an ethical perspective?
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Priority Processing Arrangements for Permanent Skilled and Temporary Work Visas
The Minister for Immigration has updated his directions to the Department of Home Affairs which outline the order of processing for permanent skilled and temporary work visas (specifically the Subclass 482 visas).
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Case review - when does unpaid work constitute employment?
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission has again considered whether unpaid work constitutes employment. It is a timely reminder of the factors that workers must consider when determining whether they are entering into, or have entered into, an employment relationship.
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Returning to work after parental leave – your rights
No matter how much you love your job, going back to work after parental leave can be a scary prospect. The main concern for most parents is how to manage competing work and family responsibilities but some employees also face the prospect of their job changing or being made redundant before they return to work. So, what obligations does the employer have and what rights do you have, as an employee returning after parental leave?
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Ways technology can help transform mental health in the workplace
A recent report by WTW showed that focus on well-being and health is a top priority for human resource managers, especially after the pandemic. Over the last one and a half years, it has become obvious to organisations that keeping employees healthy and safe should always be a prime focus of attention.
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6th October 2021




Australia’s gender pay gap reporting missing the full picture
Gender pay gap reporting in Australia is failing to deliver constructive change, with an international study on the subject saying current practices are failing to account for a significant chunk of the country’s workforce.
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Can an employer mandate that employees be vaccinated? It depends ...
Whether employers can mandate vaccinations against COVID-19 for employees depends on the unique circumstances surrounding each workplace and whether it is lawful and reasonable. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has set out guidance for employers to determine when a direction for employees to be vaccinated may be considered reasonable.
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Double-dipping provisions for casual employees
The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021 offers employers greater certainty and protection from the threat of double-dipping practices in relation to casual employees. Previously, employers have sought (often unsuccessfully depending on the nature of their documentation) to set-off amounts paid to employees over and above the base requirements of an award or enterprise agreement, to satisfy any entitlement of the employee to accrue benefits such as paid annual and/or personal leave.
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Loaded rates for the hospitality industry
Employers in the hospitality industry have been successful in obtaining approval from the Fair Work Commission to roll overtime, penalty and split shift rates into the base hourly rate for higher paid full time staff. The aim was to increase flexibility to an industry that has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. The Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2020 has now been updated to include a schedule of the new loaded rates.
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Respect@Work: The Government's response
Protections against workplace sexual harassment have been substantially improved following changes to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (SD Act), the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (AHRC Act), which commenced on 11 September 2021. The amendments implement important changes recommended by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, following the Respect@Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (2020).
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Tribunal confirms physiological change necessary for an “Injury” under Comcare scheme
The Tribunal was asked to consider whether an Executive with Services Australia was entitled to further compensation in relation to a shoulder injury suffered in 2015. The Tribunal found that the original injury was a sprain, without physiological change, which did not constitute an “Injury”. The Tribunal found in favour of Comcare and the decision under review was affirmed.
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Australian Court raises the bar on Compensation Award for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
On 9 August 2021, the Industrial Court of Queensland in Australia handed down its judgment in Golding v Sippel and The Laundry Chute Pty Ltd [2021] ICQ 14 awarding combined general and aggravated damages of $130,000 to an employee, Ms Goulding, who had been subjected to sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace. Ms Golding was also awarded an additional sum of $28,702.60 for economic loss, bringing her total award of compensation to almost $160,000, which is a record-breaking amount of damages in the State of Queensland. This decision has significantly increased the amount of damages sexual harassment and discrimination victims can expect to be awarded.
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Deloitte issues mandatory vaccination order for employees
Professional services firm Deloitte has informed its 10,000 Australian staff-members that they will require full Covid-19 vaccination to return to the office or attend Deloitte events. According to reports, the vaccine mandate will be in place from at least the beginning of next year, and will extend to all partners and employees together with contractors. It’s unclear whether unvaccinated clients will be able to visit Deloitte offices or events.
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Football Australia responds to Lisa De Vanna allegations with independent investigation
Football Australia has responded to historical abuse claims made by former Matilda Lisa de Vanna, saying it is in the process of developing an independent investigation of historical allegations. De Vanna, 36, alleged she was bullied, sexually harassed and ostracised on a number of occasions during her stellar international career, in an explosive interview with The Daily Telegraph.
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NT Health warns of 12-month ban on junior doctors who resign early amid growing staff pressures at Royal Darwin Hospital
NT Health has sent a letter to junior medical officers warning them that if they fail to complete a contract, they will not be hired again for at least a year. The letter was written by Dr Colin Feekery, who is the acting deputy director of medical services at Royal Darwin and Palmerston Hospitals. "I have instructed our Medical Services Unit and our locum recruitment service, that if a doctor fails to complete a contract, this is to be recorded on their Human Resources file," he wrote.
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Deloitte takes top honours at human resources awards
As rivals PwC and KPMG deal with serious personnel misconduct issues (separately, a widespread cheating scandal and allegations of racism among staff), Deloitte has walked away with one of Australia’s top human resources honours, earning the HR Team of the Year gong at the Australian HR Awards for 2021. In addition, the firm was recognised for its diversity & inclusion and learning & development programs among others.
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Melbourne Port to face stoppages over MUA strike, supermarkets threaten closure
Port workers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle are preparing to strike as New South Wales and Victoria move towards easing lockdown restrictions. Sky News Business Editor Ross Greenwood said industrial action by the MUA had come to a head at “exactly the wrong time” for farmers and businesses.
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29th September 2021



What’s your age again? The AHRC has released a report on ageism in Australia
Discrimination takes many forms. When we think about “age discrimination”, discrimination against “older” workers is generally the first thing that comes to our mind. However, the reality is that young people are also subject to this type of discrimination.
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‘Your feelings are your problem’ – a lesson for employers about how not to treat employees
In Qu v Monards Gold Coast Pty Ltd; Tak Wing Wong [2021] FWC 4507, an employee successfully obtained a stop bullying order despite being fairly criticised at times for being engrossed in her mobile phone while working. This case highlights the importance of implementing effective workplace bullying policies and appropriately responding to employee complaints.
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Revisiting the limits of unfair dismissal claims: when is a contract expiry a dismissal?
The recent decision of Nasr v Mondelez Australia Pty Ltd highlights the importance of the specific factual scenario when considering the expiry of a time-limited contract as part of an unfair dismissal claim. Although the employee’s unfair dismissal application was ultimately dismissed the decision demonstrates the risks associated with multiple time-limited contracts.
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Employee awarded nearly $1.5 million in compensation for vibrating finger injury caused by employer’s negligence
In Tyndall v Kestrel Coal Pty Ltd (No 3) [2021] QSC 119, Mr Tyndall claimed that he developed white finger syndrome during the course of his employment, which was caused by the significant vibrations he experienced while driving a loader. After hearing considerable medical evidence, the Court awarded Mr Tyndall almost $1.5 million in damages.
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Term contracts: lessons learned from Naulty v Shoalhaven City Council
When employment ends as a consequence of the expiry of a term contract, an employee will not be eligible to access the unfair dismissal jurisdiction. However, it is critical to ensure that compliance with clause 34 of the Local Government (State) Award 2017 (Award) headed “Term Contracts” when considering whether a term contract is appropriate in the circumstances.
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Court confirms that employees refusing to perform work that may expose them to serious health and safety risks are protected
The recent Federal Circuit Court decision of McNamara v Era Pacific Pty Ltd [2021] FCCA 1689, involved an employee who was dismissed after refusing a task that he believed would expose him to a serious health and safety risk. The employee alleged that adverse action had been taken against him because he exercised a workplace right, being the refusal to carry out the risky task.
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Mandatory vaccinations: key considerations for local Councils
COVID-19 vaccination requirements in the workplace is an evolving discussion in Australia. Public health orders apply to some industries, but most employers in New South Wales are considering their obligation to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy to ensure health and safety, and respond to employee and community concerns.
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Successful compensation claim paid due to a COVID-19 death found to be work-related
On 10 August 2021, the Personal Injury Commission handed down its decision to award $834,200, weekly compensation and potentially medical expenses in the vicinity of $11 million (USD) to the estate of a deceased employee who contracted COVID-19 during the course of his employment.
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Charity CatholicCare NT jumps gun on mandatory COVID vaccines for staff
A Darwin charity and social service provider has demanded its staff be vaccinated or their employment will be terminated, prematurely quoting not-yet-existent government rules. CatholicCare NT director Jayne Lloyd sent a memo to its 230-plus staff across the NT and SA last week, saying anyone "unable or unwilling to get vaccinated" by November 1 "will not be able to work at CCNT".
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Surveillance in the Workplace
The use of surveillance devices by employers can be an important and effective way to manage workplace risks. However, there are strict laws regulating the use of surveillance devices in the workplace and employers can incur significant penalties for non-compliance. This article explores an employer’s obligations under the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 (NSW) (Act) and some of the important issues your organisation must consider before engaging in workplace surveillance.
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22nd September 2021



What to do when someone's friends or family get involved in a workplace dispute
Is it a matter for the workplace to resolve? Officially, WorkSafe Victoria says that "employers have an obligation to take every reasonably practicable step to protect their workers from the risks of work-related violence and aggression, including bullying and harassment." This directive is consistent with Safe Work Australia and Work Health and Safety laws within Australia across all states and territories.
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In the dog house for callous dismissal
The Industrial Relations Commission of Western Australia recently made an award of $9,438.89 against an employer whom it found had unfairly dismissed an employee in a manner it described as “callous”, causing the employee “distress beyond that of most dismissals” and resulting in the employee changing careers. The employment relationship between a kennel operator and one of its employees began to deteriorate when the employer accused the employee of reporting mistreatment of animals by the kennel to the RSPCA. The employee in question strongly denied making any such complaint.
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Australia's biggest banks look to paid internships to draw in new tech talent
NAB brings in hundreds, others dozens, to sate demand for digital skills. An investigation by iTnews shows that many of Australia’s largest financial institutions have increased their intakes of both interns as well as more traditional university graduates in recent years as they build upon existing technology foundations or replace outdated legacy systems.
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Victorian mother considering damages lawsuit one year on from family's COVID battle
In August last year, Angie Shrimpton was one of the thousands of Australians who contracted COVID-19 while at work. While Ms Shrimpton made a successful WorkCover application which covers the cost of some of her treatments and rehabilitation, the financial support does not extend to her dependents, meaning she's out-of-pocket paying for their ongoing treatment.
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Transport company claims strike will put vaccine supplies at risk
Australia Post-owned delivery company StarTrack has moved to terminate a planned strike by its workers over job security, claiming it will imperil coronavirus vaccine supplies as the rollout of the Moderna jab begins. About 2000 employees of the company who are members of the Transport Workers Union have legal protection to go on strike for 24 hours on Thursday as part of a national campaign during pay negotiations to roll back outsourcing and labour hire in the industry.
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New workplace rules spark concern for regional fire fighting volunteer numbers
Volunteer bushfire officers and regional shires in WA are concerned the threat of jail or large fines under new West Australian workplace legislation could see fewer people volunteering to fight fires in rural areas this summer. The WA Government's Work Health and Safety Bill — which introduces industrial manslaughter as a crime — passed through parliament in November last year.
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Victoria’s construction industry shutdown could cost billions as protesters regroup in Melbourne’s CBD
Victoria’s construction industry has been forced to a standstill with a two-week shutdown estimated to cost more than $6bn, after violent protests outside Melbourne’s CFMEU offices. The building and construction industry is the fourth largest sector in Victoria, accounting for 46% of the state’s tax revenue and employing more than 320,000 Victorians. Projected costs of the industry shut down amount to $455m a day, and $63m in lost wages.
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Why unions support vaccination — but not employer mandates
The American union movement has split over President Joe Biden’s proposal for companies with more than 100 employees to vaccinate their workforces against COVID-19. With increasing numbers of employers mandating COVID-19 vaccination, will something similar play out in Australia?
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Mental health days are on the rise in the corporate world, but they're not a silver bullet for workplace stress
Nicole Scott has a better understanding than most of the importance of looking after your mental health. As a peer-support worker at a mental health organisation, she spends her days counselling people through their own struggles. The emotional toll the job can take is why the organisation has a clear policy for mental health leave — employees are encouraged to take it whenever they feel like they need to, no questions asked.
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Qantas fails to delay push to reinstate 2000 sacked workers
Qantas has failed to delay court proceedings that could force it to reinstate some of the 2000 ground handlers it sacked last year after a judge ruled that it was illegal to outsource those jobs to third-party providers. The Federal Court ruled in July that the airline acted illegally when it laid off the baggage handlers, aircraft towing crews, cleaners and other ground workers in November 2020 because it was partly motivated by a desire to avoid future industrial disputes with the highly unionised workforce.
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I run a gig economy business. What are my employee obligations?
The gig economy is an integral part of everyday life for many Australians, both as customers and service providers. Whether you are a customer using a ride-sharing service as a mode of transport, or an individual using these app-based platforms to earn income, you are participating in the gig economy. The gig economy is notably a grey area of employment law.
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15th September 2021



What does the minimum wage increase mean for my business?
Each financial year, the Fair Work Commission reviews the minimum wage and decides whether to increase this amount and if so, by what percentage. As of 1 July 2021, both the national minimum wage and the award rates have increased by 2.5%. This decision accounts for (without limitation) the current COVID-19 context and its impact on businesses and also inflation. This article explains what the changes are and what this means for you as an employer.
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Employee who left work to obtain a medical certificate for an injury dismissed for ‘abandonment’
Mr Fe Ben Acal (the Applicant) was employed at the Rockhampton Plant as a maintenance fitter until he was dismissed for serious misconduct on 2 October 2019. JBS Australia Pty Limited (the Respondent) claimed that the Applicant had abandoned his employment by walking off the job. The Applicant brought an unfair dismissal claim against the Respondent.
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CBA steps up corporate Covid vaccination program
Commonwealth Bank of Australia is accelerating its COVID-19 vaccination program through the availability of the Pfizer vaccine to thousands of its people, their family and other household members in the Greater Sydney metropolitan area. The Pfizer vaccine will be made available to staff and their dependents as young as 12 years of age from today (Wednesday 15 September) as part of an expanded corporate vaccination project organised by Australia’s largest bank.
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Casual employee’s dismissal held to be unfair despite them not complying with company policies
A casual employee recorded conversations between herself and her managers without their knowledge or consent. The Court held that while the unauthorised recordings were a valid reason for dismissal, the employer did not know about the recordings at the time of the dismissal and therefore did not provide the employee with the opportunity to respond to this reason. The Court rejected the employer’s other reasons for dismissal and found that the employee had been unfairly dismissed.
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Having more female CEOs and stronger laws could help stamp out workplace sexual harassment
No female CEOs were appointed to ASX 200 companies in last financial year. Not one. This financial year has started on a slightly brighter note with Woodside appointing Meg O’Neill as the company’s chief executive officer and managing director.
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Pacific island meat workers on $9 per hour after wage deductions
Pacific island workers employed at a Victorian abattoir are taking home little more than $9 an hour after hundreds of dollars are deducted from their weekly pay to cover airfares, visas, phone plans, housing and furniture rentals. Contracts between Pacific islander meat workers and labour hire firm Regional Workforce Management Pty Ltd show some workers are left with just $310 from their weekly pay of $753 after the deductions are made, prompting exploitation concerns.
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Sometimes workplace training can be ridiculous
How many hours of productive work are lost because somebody with an overactive imagination has made up a list of hazards that have a theoretical chance of actually happening about as great as Peter FitzSimons releasing a Christmas book entitled “101 reasons why we should retain the monarchy”. Training staff is a good idea. Forcing employees to engage in time-consuming courses for “compliance” smacks far more of organisations covering their backs than providing any benefit to the individual concerned.
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StarTrack postal workers vote in favour of strike action: union
Workers at parcel and freight service StarTrack have voted to strike, which could add strain to a postal system already impacted by record volumes during COVID-19 lockdowns. The Transport Workers’ Union said an “overwhelming” 90 per cent of StarTrack workers who are union members voted in favour of strike action if certain job security guarantees were not met.
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NSW Personal Injury Commission finds workers compensation potentially exceeding $11 million payable for COVID-19 death
The New South Wales Personal Injury Commission has determined that a worker who contracted COVID-19 during the course of his employment has a compensable injury within the meaning of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW). The worker, a Director of a company dealing in dental technology whose primary business was based in Australia, had travelled to the United States in July 2020 in order to oversee the set-up of an American facility when he contracted COVID-19. The worker contracted the virus having attended several networking functions with colleagues.
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How changing work practices increase the risk of employee underpayment
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our work lives in a multitude of ways, forcing many companies to change their business models, reassess their requirements of employees and facilitate employees working from home. These changes have seemingly happened overnight and, in many cases, are becoming our new normal. This perfect storm of flexible working arrangements, changing roles and rapidly diversifying business models can unwittingly cause companies to find themselves underpaying employees, especially when record keeping is insufficient.
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Respect@Work – Amendments Pass Parliament
We have closely followed the progress of the reforms recommended in the Respect@Work Report, published following a 2018 Government commissioned national inquiry into sexual harassment and discrimination in Australian workplaces. We wrote about the background to the recommended reforms and outlined which of those recommendations had been endorsed by the Government, making their way into the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 (the “Bill”). The Bill has now passed Parliament, amending the Fair Work Act 2009 (“FW Act”) and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (“SD Act”) to introduce a number of noteworthy reforms.
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Explainer: what is a 'positive duty' to prevent workplace sexual harassment and why is it so important?
This week’s national women’s safety summit has been roundly criticised by community and women’s groups as being little more than a talkfest. It was intended to inform the development of a national plan to prevent violence against women and their children. But the government’s recent steps on this issue show how it is more committed to rhetoric and spin than taking real action.
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8th September 2021



Psychological injuries arising out of employment
The Applicant sustained psychological injuries arising out of or in the course of his employment with Genesis Care Pty Ltd (‘the Respondent’) and was assessed by Dr Michael Hong as having 17% Whole Person Impairment. The Applicant was receiving weekly benefits at the maximum statutory rate however they ceased for 22 weeks from 13 August 2020 to 13 January 2021. The Insurer, iCare, issued a section 78 Notice disputing liability and the Applicant’s entitlement to lump sum compensation, weekly payments, and medical expenses.
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Government Passes Landmark Bill to Combat Sexual Harassment
The House of Rep­esentatives has passed the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021. The Bill implements certain recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission report, Respect@Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces presented to the Government by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, in March last year.
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Unions call for consultation before Australian businesses adopt ‘no jab, no work’ policies
Unions will continue to support workers who push back against employers mandating Covid-19 vaccination, and have urged consultation before the implementation of “no jab, no work” policies. As the Australian Medical Association calls for mandatory vaccination for all healthcare workers, police forces in New South Wales and Queensland mandate vaccinations, and major employers including Telstra, Qantas, Virgin Australia and SPC consider their own mandates, unions are caught in a bind: supporting the rights and choices of individual workers, but knowing that boosting the national vaccination rate is pivotal to resuscitating the economy.
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Your workers Compensation Payments may have been inaccurate
Have you received a letter from icare? According to the media, icare have written to thousands and thousands of injured people about their PIAWE (Pre-Injury Average Weekly Earnings). An incorrect calculation process may have happened when determining your Weekly Earnings in relation to your Workers Compensation Claim.
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Former Uber Eats courier paid $400,000 in out-of-court settlement
Is an Uber Eats courier an employee or an independent contract worker? The line that separates the two classifications is becoming increasingly blurred, especially in the gig economy. In 2019, after being told she’d failed to meet delivery time standards, Uber Eats courier Amita Gupta had her access cut off. With the support of the Transport Workers’ Union, Ms Gupta brought an unfair dismissal case against Uber.
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Workers Rights During COVID 19
Workers are entitled to elect a health and safety representative (HSR) if they wish to be represented by one, request the formation of a health and safety committee, cease unsafe work in certain circumstances, have health and safety issues at the workplace resolved in accordance with an agreed issue resolution procedure, and not be discriminated against for raising health and safety issues.
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SA Parliament to set up HR unit to tackle harassment
State Parliament has agreed to establish a specialised unit tasked with stamping out harassment at Parliament House, months after the Equal Opportunity Commission revealed findings of a “toxic” and “rotten” workplace culture.
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No jab, no job: David Walsh mandates Covid vaccination for all Mona staff
The owner of the Hobart gallery penned a colourful memo defending his decision, which has renewed discussion on the legality of compulsory vaccination. Tasmania’s flagship gallery, the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), has become the first cultural institution in Australia to compel employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
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Deakin University to lay off more staff amid fears of second wave of education job cuts
Vice-chancellor Iain Martin says international student numbers will not return to pre-pandemic figures in the foreseeable future. Deakin University has announced plans to terminate up to 220 employees as the tertiary education sector braces for a “second wave” of job cuts. During a town hall conference on Tuesday, the Deakin University vice-chancellor, Prof Iain Martin, announced a plan to cut between 180 and 220 jobs, citing rising staff costs and falling revenue, the latter exacerbated greatly by the pandemic.
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Hundreds of Victorian ambulance paramedics decline COVID-19 vaccine
Hundreds of Victorian ambulance paramedics have declined to be vaccinated for COVID-19, reinforcing calls for mandatory vaccination of all frontline healthcare workers in the state. Internal Ambulance Victoria figures obtained by the ABC show that 256 "on-road clinical staff" from Ambulance Victoria have declined to be vaccinated, 4.6 per cent of the total number of paramedics.
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Management culture to blame for sexual harassment crisis in FIFO mining, union tells inquiry
Representatives of the Western Mineworkers Alliance (WMWA) have told WA’s inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry that the problem in the industry is endemic and driven in large part by management actively discouraging women from coming forward.
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1st September 2021



When a duck is not a duck: Differentiating contractors from employees
Earlier this month, the High Court handed down a landmark decision providing certainty on casual employment in WorkPac v Rossato & Ors [2021] HCA 23 (WorkPac v Rossato). In WorkPac v Rossato, the High Court rejected that the courts should focus on the “real substance, practical reality and true nature of that relationship” and found that the relevant test is to be determined by the terms of the employment contract.
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Working From Home With Kids: What Options Do Employers Have With Working Parents?
When working parents are struggling to balance remote learning and their own responsibilities as an employee during lockdown, employers often wonder what options are available for them to help their staff. As each employee’s circumstances will be different, it is impossible to apply a blanket rule - so the best way for employers to assist their employees in managing their individual responsibilities during lockdown is to have a full understanding of the options available to them.
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The High Court to determine whether truck drivers were employees or independent contractors
The decision handed down in Jamsek v ZG Operations Australia Pty Ltd [2020] FCAFC 119 (Jamsek) is set to be heard by the High Court, as the next in a recent slew of employment matters being decided at the highest level.
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Australia Post to notify former employees of final pay error
Australia Post has identified a payroll processing error that caused some former employees to not receive their full accrued annual leave entitlement when they left the organisation, with an average amount owed of $92. The error was identified by an internal proactive compliance review to ensure Australia Post’s human resources and payroll systems are working effectively, and processing pay and entitlements correctly for employees.
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Employers at the pointy end of Covid compo war
When it comes to the pandemic, some can afford an ideological viewpoint. They can rail against restrictions and demand we start “living with the virus”. At the same time, they may oppose compulsory vaccinations in employment settings and “vaccine passports”, citing freedom, liberty and choice. Politicians and commentators can see the world through the prism of politics, with a culture war focus. Their position is all care, no responsibility.
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Morrison government under pressure from within to expand aged care Covid vaccine mandate
The Coalition is facing calls from within its ranks to extend a Covid vaccine mandate for workers in residential aged care to all aged care and disability care workers. Warren Entsch, the Liberal MP for Leichhardt, raised the issue with the health minister, Greg Hunt, this week, saying the mandate for the residential aged care workforce did not go far enough.
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The implications of WorkPac v Rossato – not just a casual issue
In the recent decision of WorkPac v Rossato the High Court unanimously held that Mr Rossato, a former employee of WorkPac, was a casual employee and therefore not entitled to benefits such as annual leave. Ben Motro, Partner, and Professor Andrew Stewart, Consultant, consider the High Court’s reasoning in this case, and explore the implications that the Court’s findings have for the future of employment law.
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My Employer Forced me to Resign
The Fair Work Commission (‘FWC’) states that a forced resignation happens when you have no ‘real choice’ but to resign. That is, your resignation was likely not a ‘clear and unmistakable resignation’, therefore raising questions regarding whether your resignation was, in fact, voluntary. In any subsequent claim or proceedings, you must prove that you did, in fact, not resign voluntarily and / or prove that your employer forced you to resign. Whether your employer gave you no choice but to resign is a tight threshold, however it is a threshold that must be closely drawn and rigorously observed.
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Employees – Damages for Breach of Contractual and Fiduciary Obligations
Employees are generally subject to the express terms of their employment agreements and implied and fiduciary duties and statutory duties. Breaching those duties may lead to significant damages claims against them, although the exact measure of damages may require an election by the Employer.
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Rather Than Enforce, Employers Should Encourage Facilitate Uptake, Says ACTU’s Sally McManus
As the push for greater COVID-19 vaccination levels grows as the outbreak of the Delta variant of the virus continues to spike, the debate around workplace vaccination mandates is starting to reach fever pitch. Whilst the federal government made it mandatory for aged care workers and those employed in quarantine to get the jab in late July, PM Scott Morrison stated early this month that while vaccine uptake should remain “voluntary and free”, businesses are obliged to keep workplaces safe.
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Long Service Leave – Employment Outside of Victoria not “Continuous Employment”
Most employees in Australia qualify for long service leave once they have worked continuously for their employer for at prescribed period of time (at least seven years in many States and Territories, and ten years in others). However, this entitlement only arises if there has been “continuous employment” with the employer for that period and what qualifies as “continuous” is not always straightforward and can vary from state to state.
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25th August 2021



Major changes for casual employees in 2021
In March 2021, changes to the Fair Work Act (‘FW Act’) came into effect which were the result of the federal government’s attempts at defining casual employment. Importantly, the new definition applies to former, current and future employees – it is retrospective.
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Linfox gains Pfizer allocation as Toll initiates injection leave
Linfox and Toll say they are making moves to ensure their employees have improved chances of gaining Covid-19 vaccinations. Linfox revealed it had received an allocation of Covid-19 Pfizer vaccines from the federal and NSW governments for eligible team members, as health authorities prioritise the vaccination of essential workers.
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Workers compo changes amended after medical, legal backlash
The state government has ruled out approving controversial changes to workers compensation guidelines after they were criticised by the medical and legal sector, but concerns about the reforms remain. Return to Work SA, the regulators of South Australia’s return to work insurance scheme, earlier this year recommended Treasurer and Industrial Relations Minister Rob Lucas tighten the Impairment Assessment Guidelines (IAG) which injured workers are assessed against to determine whether they are eligible for compensation.
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Roundtable discussion to support employers with Covid vaccination
Minister for Industrial Relations, Michaelia Cash, today led a virtual roundtable discussion with around 50 leaders from unions, employer groups and government to discuss how best to support the vaccination rollout in workplaces. Minister Cash brought together stakeholders to address concerns about how they can and should approach COVID-19 vaccination policies in the workplace and to support the vaccine rollout more broadly.
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The High Court provides employers with welcome clarification in the casual employee debacle: the contract is king
In recent years, employers have grappled with the concept of who is a “casual employee” for the purposes of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). Following a lengthy legal process, the High Court has provided clarity in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato & Ors [2021] HCA 23. In finding that Mr Rossato was a casual employee, the High Court agreed with the parties that a casual employee is an employee who has no firm advance commitment of ongoing work from the employer.
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AI in HR
HR professionals widely recognize the power of AI and plan to rely more heavily on it over the coming years. As the world of talent management continues to evolve quickly given the accelerations caused by the pandemic and development of new working environments, HR leaders are increasingly leaning on technology to help their companies rightside their talent processes.
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History tells us what will decide whether we work from home in the future
By now it seems cut and dried. The pandemic has taught us to love the benefits of working from home and stopped bosses fearing it, so we’ll keep doing it once the virus has receded and the kids are back at school. Well, maybe, maybe not. Any lasting change in the way we work is likely to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
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Transport Union slams FedEx for failing to protect workers following COVID-19 case at Matraville depot
The Transport Workers Union claimed FedEx failed to protect workers after a person at their Matraville site contracted COVID-19 - and declared the incident could keep Sydney "in lockdown longer than we need to be".
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Truck driver strike at Toll Group set to cause road block, with Linfox also facing industrial action
Thousands of truck drivers will stop deliveries on Friday as part of a planned national strike at transport giant Toll Group, and transport workers at LinFox and Bevchain also look set to take industrial action. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said "crisis talks" over a new enterprise bargaining agreement with Toll collapsed yesterday.
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The official figures say wages aren't growing — here's why they're wrong
Have you heard about the latest wage figures? They're meaningless. What the widely quoted measure of average weekly earnings purports to show is that wages grew a mere 0.1 per cent over the year to May. It's not true. It's not what happened. For most of us, wages grew by much more.
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18th August 2021



SA Parliament to set up HR unit to tackle harassment
State Parliament has agreed to establish a specialised unit tasked with stamping out harassment at Parliament House, months after the Equal Opportunity Commission revealed findings of a “toxic” and “rotten” workplace culture.
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The Do's and Don'ts of Workplace Investigations
Workplace investigations involve several (and often complex) procedural and substantive requirements and considerations which are easy to get wrong. Consequently, an investigation can be a source of risk to an employer, particularly where they are not conducted properly, or in haste.
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Cut the jab-erish – no jab, no job…… or get sued!
The current media storm about compulsory COVID-19 vaccination in workplaces has most people talking and it’s become the great debate. Industry bodies, unions, employers and workers all seem to have differing views as to what is, and isn’t appropriate but one thing’s for sure; without legislation to define rights and obligations, we’re going to see lawsuits aplenty by this time next year!
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What constitutes a psychological injury?
Legal explainer about about what constitutes a psychological injury under the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme.
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Mandatory workplace vaccination: Some myths
With SPC putting its head above the parapet by mandating COVID19 vaccination for its workforce, and the National Cabinet Statement on 6 August, the topic of mandatory workplace vaccination has never generated such interest, analysis or debate. In discussion and reporting on the issue there are some regularly recurring myths. It is timely to examine some of those a little more closely.
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Court Upholds Sexual Harassment Decision over Suggestive Poster
A recent decision by the NSW Court of Appeal has dismissed an application by a contractor against a ruling by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“NCAT”) that Sydney Water and the contractor had engaged in sexual harassment of a female employee after a suggestive safety poster was displayed at work. The decision confirms that even unintentional innuendo can be considered unwelcome sexual harassment under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) (the “Act”).
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11th August 2021



Two more senior executives leave Sony Music Australia as workplace investigation continues
A changing of the guard at Sony Music Australia has seen two long-term senior executives leave the company before an internal investigation into workplace culture has concluded.
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'It's hard to get work when you're older': Ageism in the workplace
When Kate decided to make a sea change at the age of 60, she thought there would be no shortage of work for her. But she claims age discrimination is alive and well in Australia.
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New tools to stamp out sexual harassment
There is no quick fix for the complex issues of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, but new resources are being developed to support victims and to challenge ingrained attitudes and an outdated framework for addressing the problems.
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FIFO miners' mental health in spotlight, amid calls for onsite psychologists
New initiatives are being introduced into the mining industry to support miners' mental health, but there are calls for more significant change, including on-site psychologists at every mine.
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Australian MPs can opt to participate in one-hour sexual harassment training
Critics have slammed the basic training for people working at parliament house that will be implemented in response to the alleged historical rape of staffer Brittany Higgins by a colleague in a minister’s office.
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Decision to adopt independent complaints process will create safer parliament, Brittany Higgins says
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has welcomed the Morrison government’s decision to adopt an independent complaints mechanism for serious incidents in Parliament House, which is the central recommendation of the Foster review.
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Universal Music Australia Launches Investigation Into 'Inappropriate' Office Behavior
In the wake of reports of widespread sexual harassment at Sony Music Australia, Universal Music has become the second major label in the country to launch an investigation into inappropriate behavior at its offices, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
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WFH experiment not working for everyone
We know COVID-19 lockdowns and myriad restrictions on our normal daily activities are wreaking devastating harm on our CBD and the thousands of businesses and workplaces located there. But one of the matters we need to think seriously about is the impact of working from home as we responsibly track our way back, as far as possible, to working in the office.
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CEOs say carrots, not sticks, should drive vaccinations
Chief executives from a broad range of industries across corporate Australia believe incentives and encouragement for staff are the best way to ensure vaccination rates accelerate much faster once supply improves, and are steering clear of following a controversial move by fruit packaging company SPC to pursue a no-jab, no-job approach.
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Unpaid Work Experience: What You Need to Know
Volunteer opportunities, including unpaid internships and other unpaid work experience, allow individuals to gain valuable practical experience and make connections in professional fields they may be considering for future careers. However, these arrangements are not without risk.
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28th July 2021



'Essential worker hero' shelf stackers in pay dispute with Woolworths
Supermarket giant Woolworths has significantly cut the take-home pay of up to 1800 nightfill workers in a move that has prompted ongoing workplace disputes at its Victorian stores.
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No pain, no gain – Tribunal rules that incapacity is a requirement for a Section 18 application
The South Australian Employment Tribunal has handed down another favourable decision for employers relating to Section 18 of the Return to Work Act 2014 (SA) – the section that allows injured workers to apply to the Tribunal for an order requiring the pre-injury employer to provide "suitable employment".
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'Hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube': Young workers resisting returning to office
David Gross, an executive at a New York-based advertising agency, convened the troops over Zoom this month to deliver a message he and his fellow partners were eager to share: It was time to think about coming back to the office. Gross, 40, wasn’t sure how employees, many in their 20s and early 30s, would take it. The initial response — dead silence — wasn’t encouraging. Then one young man signalled he had a question. “Is the policy mandatory?” he wanted to know.
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Show me the money: London staff want pay rises to return to office
London office workers want an average pay rise equivalent to the cost of some annual railway season tickets to return to their desks full-time after the pandemic, according to a survey.
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'It's hard to get work when you're older': Ageism in the workplace
When Kate decided to make a sea change at the age of 60, she thought there would be no shortage of work for her. But she claims age discrimination is alive and well in Australia..
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Sony's Workplace Culture Crisis: Where To From Here?
'The Music' speaks to PR and HR experts in the midst of the ongoing Sony Music Entertainment Australia situation to explore what could, would and should happen in workplaces when faced with similar situations.
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Why businesses should hire refugees amid Australia’s labour shortage
Australia is in the grip of a labour shortage, as pandemic border closures stem the flow of workers from other countries. At the same time, Australia has an untapped talent pool of workers: refugees who have settled here and are urgently looking for work.
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21st July 2021



'I resign' versus 'I will hand in my notice'- there is a difference
Usually, when an employee resigns there is no doubt about their intention. A resignation letter is provided, accounting for a period of notice; the employee works out that notice and the employment ends. However, sometimes the language used by employees can give rise to uncertainty as to whether the employee has actually resigned.
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We have a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy, so we do not have to pay compensation for the workers injuries
Maintenance manager was injured after going back to work to deal with an emergency after drininking alcohol. What happened next?
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JobKeeper and Weekly Compensation Payments
What is meant by “returned to work for not less than 15 hours per week” or “It is beyond my control”? The Applicant suffered an injury to his lumbar spine in the course of his employment with the Respondent on 30 July 2018. The Applicant also suffered a consequential umbilical hernia while undergoing rehabilitation exercises for the original back injury. The Applicant sought weekly compensation benefits pursuant to Section 37 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (the 1987 Act).
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Warning – Blanket application of the new super guarantee to big business employees may be super risky
It’s that time again – From 1 July 2021, Australia’s superannuation guarantee (SG) will increase from 9.5% to 10%. An employer’s approach to implementing the new SG should first and foremost be guided by the way an employee’s contract is drafted. This will effect whether any change needs to be made to an employee’s remuneration or the wording of their contract.
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Mandatory workplace vaccination: Reflections on recent developments
With the current troubling Covid-19 cluster in NSW, and a deep concern about the relatively low rates of vaccination of staff in some industries which deal with the sick and the vulnerable, most notably aged care, the issue of mandatory workplace vaccination has gone from being an interesting theoretical consideration to a matter of immediate practical concern.
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FWO announces 2021-22 priorities
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker has announced the regulator’s strategic priorities for the year ahead, with the key focus supporting workplaces as they manage the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
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Out of Hours Conduct – Reinstatement after Drink Driving Charge
A recent unfair dismissal decision by the Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) highlights the limits of an employer’s power to discipline employees for their out of hours conduct, even where that conduct may attract criminal convictions such as a drink driving charge.
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We versus they: How COVID-19 has completely changed our concept of a workplace
What makes people tick and stick around in the workplace has changed. Gone are the days of the corner office in the ivory tower, with the expense account and secretary that brings a fresh Danish and macchiato just the way you like it every morning. These kinds of features and the culture they represent are relics of a bygone era. Even financial compensation itself — the only rule of thumb consideration in outdated but still heavily relied upon economic theory — is just one element of what people seek from their workplaces in 2021.
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Poor understanding of mental health stifles employment
When asked whether someone should disclose their mental illness to an employer, Lucy Brogden regrets her answer is “no”. Mrs Brogden said she had received anecdotal reports of high-functioning employees who had felt it was safe to disclose their mental illness to an employer or manager before discovering that when they did, “everybody’s attitude towards them suddenly changed”.
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Work from Anywhere? Gen Z and Millennials Ask, "Why Not?"
There’s no denying that the pandemic has and continues to challenge companies to rethink their workforce strategies, particularly with respect to remote work and gig opportunities.
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14th July 2021



Employees in Iceland start working four days a week, and they’ll get more done
Researchers in Iceland have found that a four-day work week, without a pay cut, improved workers’ well-being and productivity.
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'Dystopian nightmare': The unlikely opponents of working from home
The flexible work revolution triggered by COVID-19 is set to endure in Australia long after the danger of the pandemic has passed. A survey of 50 of the nation’s biggest companies conducted by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald this week found that major employers are overwhelmingly planning to adopt hybrid work models permanently, and only seven respondents will require workers to be in the office a set number of days each week.
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Casual workers to get government-funded sick leave in Victorian trial
The Victorian government will provide sick leave to casual workers in a trial program developed in response to the spread of coronavirus in insecure workplaces during Melbourne’s second wave.
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Victoria introduces reforms to expand worker protections
The Victorian Government has introduced the Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 to parliament, to make Victorian workplaces safer. The new reforms are expected to expand worker rights and protections, boost employer accountability and streamline enforcement.
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Return to Work – It’s all about that Flex
reports are that most employers have their employees back in the office for majority of the working week. However, this won’t suit everybody. For some, WFH has made its mark and flexibility is not only desired but necessary to accommodate an ongoing balance between home life and work. Eligible employees may wish to request flexible working arrangements and employers should know how to respond.
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Chucking the sickie: no-questions-asked 'doona days' give workers a break
Employers are increasingly seeing the wisdom in offering staff days off for mental health – no leave application or medical certificate required.
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The implications of implying a term of reasonable notice
In a decision that demonstrates the need for employment contracts to clearly specify a term for notice of termination, Judge Obradovic in the Federal Circuit Court case, McAlister v Yara Australia Pty Ltd [2021] FCCA 1409, has implied a term of 9 months' notice into an employee's employment contract.
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Countdown to casual conversion
Less than three months to go until employers must make conversion offers to eligible casual employees
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No jab, no job, no problem? Not quite.
Vaccines and mandatory vaccination programs have received a lot of media attention lately. There’s been Australia’s roll-out of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine (see here for government information). Alliance Airlines announced that COVID vaccination was mandatory for all staff members (see here). There has also been a slew of reports of misinformation related to vaccines (remember the Bill Gates tracking microchip theory?). Vaccines have been front and centre of media bulletins for months now. But can an employer actually require employees to be vaccinated?
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30th June 2021



Deloitte to allow all staff to decide where and when they work
The consultancy firm has eliminated set start and finish times, and there is no requirement to be in the office for any set number of days a week. The changes also mean Deloitte’s 10,000 staff are entitled to one paid wellbeing day a year and have the ability to swap public holidays for days of cultural or religious significance to them.
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HR Research: Employee-Centered Experience Drives Business Agility In Australia
A recent study showed the vast majority of surveyed Australians said their organization had effectively handled new ways of working in response to COVID-19 (80%), and was well prepared to address the changing work environment (78%). That said, Australian executives may be underestimating upcoming challenges...
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Multiple allegations of toxic culture at Sony Music Australia as CEO Denis Handlin leaves
The most powerful man in Australian pop music, Denis Handlin, has been removed as head of Sony Music Australia, a week after Guardian Australia approached Sony’s head office with multiple complaints from former employees alleging a toxic work environment at the global company’s Australian operation.
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Construction company wins case on exception to redundancy payments
A Full Federal Court has found, in a case involving a construction company and the CEPU, that the “ordinary and customary turnover” exception to redundancy pay in section 119 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) applied to employees employed for a specific construction project. Having properly drafted contracts and enterprise agreements and using clear and unambiguous wording around the nature of employment is vital in being able to rely on the “ordinary and customary turnover of labour” exception.
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Tribunal finds ATO Analyst suffered burnout and depression from employment
The Tribunal was asked to consider liability for a psychological condition suffered by an analyst for the Australian Taxation Office. The Tribunal found that the reasonable administrative action exclusion did not apply to this claim, and ultimately concluded that the condition was contributed to, to a significant degree by employment and found in favour of the employee.
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Do I have to pay for work outside of work hours?
The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently determined that the time spent by an employee putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) during their unpaid meal break needs to be paid by the employer. The decision highlights the risk that employees must be paid for any substantive task required by the employer in what may otherwise be considered unpaid time. It also demonstrates the value of a well-drafted set-off clause when employees are paid above the award.
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Does an employee have the right to silence?
A recent Full Bench decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) considered the circumstances in which a dishonest answer by an employee to their employer’s questions provides a valid reason for dismissal.
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How to respond to vexatious bullying in the workplace
Receiving a bullying complaint from an employee and working out what to do next can be stressful for an employer. Then, to add another layer of complexity - what happens if the bullying complaint is made vexatiously and without a legitimate reason?
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Once more for good measure – employer directions to be ‘lawful and reasonable’
The Fair Work Commission is progressively finalising matters that have arisen out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Albeit gradual, we are gaining clarity on the various questions posed by the last 18 months of life, such as when can an employer direct an employee to get vaccinated?
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Calculating Superannuation Payments From 1 July 2021 - A Contract Clause You May Not Be Aware Of
From 1 July 2021, the superannuation contributions employers are required to make will increase to 10%. Have you checked to ensure whether your payments to employees will change from 1 July? There is one contract provision that may be lurking in your employment contracts, that you may not be aware of that can affect the calculation of your payment obligations to employees.
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9th June 2021



Company director jailed for death of worker in WA
A prison sentence recently handed down to a company director in the Magistrates Court serves as a timely reminder that regulators are willing to seek, and courts are increasingly willing to impose, tougher sentences on businesses that fail to meet their duties under workplace health and safety legislation.
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Zip Co offers two weeks of paid leave to employees experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy loss
Aussie buy-now, pay-later giant Zip Co has introduced a policy offering two weeks of paid leave for employees who suffer miscarriage or pregnancy loss before 20 weeks.
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The right to ‘chestfeed’ enshrined in government workplace agreement
The Victorian government has become the country’s largest employer to include the term “chestfeeding” in a workplace agreement as part of a broader push to use gender-inclusive language.
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False perceptions are not considered contributing factors to psychological condition
The Tribunal was asked to consider initial liability for a psychological condition. All that is required is that the employee is exposed to some incident, or state of affairs, in the course of the performance of his/her duties and to which he/she would not otherwise have been exposed ...
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Ageism and countering effects of COVID-19 on Older Australians at work
Transcript of a speech by Age Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Kay Patterson..
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"Team Anywhere": Atlassian’s new flexible work model means employees will only go into the office 'four times a year’
Atlassian is planning big changes in how it operates. Step one: mandate that employees will get to work from home.
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COVID-19 vaccine: Employers are “willing to step up” and offer staff incentives to get the jab
Australian business leaders are calling on employers to play their part in the vaccine rollout by offering incentives to workers to get the jab. Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, said on Monday that the vaccine rollout needs to be accelerated and employers can help by offering incentives such as paid leave to their staff.
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Reforms arising from Marie Boland’s review of WHS laws
The the NSW Government have introduced the Work Health and Safety Amendment (Industrial Manslaughter) Bill 2021 (Bill), which proposes to create two new offences relating to industrial manslaughter under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW). A conviction may result in a maximum $10.1 million penalty for a body corporate and 25 years’ imprisonment for an individual. These reforms are key recommendations arising from Marie Boland’s Final Report following her review of the model work health and safety laws. .
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Crown's 'pretty grim' culture laid bare
From employees right up to the chief executive, feedback given to an auditor about the workplace culture at Crown Resorts has painted a “pretty grim picture”, the royal commission in Victoria has heard.
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Employee Performance Improvement Plan: What you need to know
When an employee is found to be underperforming, the start is for the employer to discuss the issue/s with the employee (usually informally). More often than not, the employee will improve after this discussion. But what happens if an employee argues that the PIP is unreasonable? What are some of the things that employers can do to combat this argument?
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25 May 2021



Employers To Consider The Implications Of Changing Terms Of Employment When Employing Across Multiple Jurisdictions
In Qantas Airways Ltd v Tohrlach [2021] NSWCA 48, Qantas appealed a decision of the New South Wales Supreme Court seeking to have a post-employment restraints dispute determined in Australia after an employee had commenced proceedings in Singapore seeking declarations the restraints were void and unenforceable.
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The business case for diversity in one word: profit
Imagine a technology or product that would increase organisational performance and profitability by 36 per cent. It would sell out overnight...
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Workers want fewer days in office in post-COVID Brisbane: survey
Future Brisbane office spaces in the post COVID-19 era should have fewer desks and more workers should use collaborative work spaces, a survey of more than 7500 office workers and 150 executives has found.
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Five things to think about before you rush your team back to the office
With the vaccine for COVID-19 being rolled out around the world, and case numbers low here in Australia, many companies are starting to push for all employees to return to the office. Sure, everyone loves to catch up (and let someone else make them a cuppa), and face-to-face, round the table meetings are where the magic happens, right?
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Former media adviser to WA Treasurer, gets payout for unfair dismissal from government
A former ministerial media adviser who was acquitted of an indecent assault accusation will receive nearly $300,000 after settling his case with the state government.
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Dishonest General Manager was not wrongfully dismissed
It is well known in employment, especially in senior roles, that honesty is an important quality. This is especially so in public sector employment. This principle was recently made abundantly clear by President Bell of the NSW Supreme Court in Eldridge v Wagga Wagga City Council [2021] NSWSC 312 (31 March 2021).
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Inappropriate Social Media Activity is a Valid Reason for Dismissal
The Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) has upheld the dismissal of a finance broker who was terminated for inappropriate social media activity. The decision serves as a reminder that inappropriate social media activity can be a valid reason for dismissal, and the importance of enforcing expectations of appropriate behaviour.
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Company found not to have coerced workers by warning they would not have a job if they did not approve a pay cut for new employees
In Compass Group (Australia) Pty Ltd T/A ESS [2021] FWCA 1234, a large catering company made an application to the Fair Work Commission to vary an Enterprise Agreement (“Agreement”) which resulted in a pay cut for new employees engaged by the Company, after a majority of employees overwhelmingly voted to vary the Agreement. The Australian Workers Union, who were bound by the Agreement, objected to the application on a number of grounds including that they asserted the statements provided to employees ahead of a vote on the Agreement were coercive.
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Am I Allowed to Conduct Surveillance on My Employees?
Like most employers, you may only consider whether you are permitted to conduct surveillance on employees following allegations of misconduct. In such circumstances, you may seek to conduct an investigation that is compliant with relevant laws and which you can rely on for disciplinary action. However, to be compliant with relevant laws, it is important to consider such questions before undergoing investigation.
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12 May, 2021



Fair Work Ombudsman secures penalties in court over underpayment of Sydney nanny
The rights of in-home care professionals, who provide early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in the homes of children and families, to award wage conditions have been highlighted in a recent case brought before the Federal Court.
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Mandatory vaccinations – A ‘Goodstart’ for employer guidance
Employers are more frequently asking whether they can require their employees to be vaccinated against diseases for which there is a vaccine. The answer will usually turn on whether a direction to be vaccinated is a "lawful and reasonable direction".
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"Right to Disconnect" After Hours in Victoria Signifies a Substantial Change to the Modern Working Environment
Employers in Australia should prepare themselves for the ongoing debate around the establishment of workplace boundaries as pressure around the issue intensifies.
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Gartner HR Survey Shows a Quarter of Australian Employees Are Seeking a New Job
Work-life Balance, Manager Quality and Respect are the Top Three Reasons Australian Workers Cite for Leaving Their Organisation.
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Re-engaging in a post-pandemic world: the great HR challenge of 2021
Is a significant reset in the offing? From a human resources perspective, the answer appears to be a resounding ‘yes’. Here in Australia and elsewhere in the world, we’re seeing professionals and leaders addressing some big issues in the wake of the COVID pandemic and the extraordinary changes it has engendered, to our way of life and work.
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What is new Super Guarantee in 2021?
When it was first introduced in 1992, it was intended that the SG would gradually increase over time. Although it wasn’t mentioned in the May Federal Budget, it’s expected to rise to 10% from 1 July 2021.
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‘Insulting’ and ‘degrading’: budget funding for childcare may help families but educators are still being paid pennies
The government has committed an additional A$1.7 billion over five years to reduce the cost of childcare for around 250,000 families with more than one child. Another $1.6 billion is going into ensuring each four-year-old child gets 15 hours of preschool a week. But these budget announcements, framed in part as being a boost for women’s participation in the workforce, hold no good news for the early childhood workforce - 95% of whom are women.
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Budget 2021: $450 Super Threshold Axed
The government has established it is looking towards a number of reforms to boost the efficiency and competition of financial markets. It has an aim to roll out the red carpet for global talent and investment into Australia. The $450 threshold for mandated employer super contributions has been axed, allowing more part-time and casual workers to payments from their employers.
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28 April 2021



LinkedIn to introduce 'stay-at-home' parenting option in profiles
LinkedIn says in response to feedback, particularly from women and mothers, it's adding "stay-at-home mum", "stay-at-home dad" and "stay-at-home parent" to its job options in the "coming weeks". "In the near future, we'll also add a new field specifically for employment-gap types to the profile like 'parental leave', 'family care' or 'sabbatical' so that people can address any gaps in their career journey"
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'We must act now': Businesses seek urgent global push for skilled migrants
A Shepparton business and industry leader has told a parliamentary inquiry into skilled migration that the federal government should fund a worldwide recruitment campaign to bring skilled workers to the region.
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Horseplay in the workplace leads to $662,102 in damages
A certain amount of joking, skylarking and horseplay in the workplace is usually harmless and lightens the atmosphere, keeping up the spirits of workers. But when it goes too far and someone is injured, the consequences can be very serious and costly.
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COVID-19 vaccinations: workplace rights and obligations (Fairwork)
Find answers to common questions about different workplace issues and COVID-19 vaccinations.
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ABCC takes action against Brisbane labour hire company for failure to comply with two investigations
The ABCC has commenced Federal Circuit Court proceedings against Brisbane based company ADADN Pty Ltd alleging failures to comply with formal requests to provide documents in investigations into alleged underpayment of wages and unlawful industrial action.
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Gender Equity Insights 2021: making it a priority
This sixth BCEC|WGEA Gender Equity Insights report, Gender Equity Insights 2021: Making it a Priority, uncovers further insights about effective initiatives to improve gender equality across Australia’s workplaces, by identifying the top performers, who have consistently taken steps to improve gender equality outcomes over the last seven years.
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Women’s casual job surge widens gender pay gap
The gendered nature of the pandemic’s effects on Australia’s labour market have clear implications for addressing pay inequality. Not only has the quantity of women’s paid work been reduced compared with men, but the quality of those jobs has been undermined during the post-COVID recovery. Women workers are 'snapping back' to a world of paid work that engages them on inferior terms compared with men (lesser hours, security and pay).
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Vaccinations and the workplace
The new guidance suggests that most employers will not have a right or obligation to require employees to be vaccinated, however, all employers will continue to have an ongoing duty to eliminate or if not possible, minimise, so far as is reasonably practicable, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
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Queensland workers with psychological injuries are getting short-changed!
According to data released by the state’s worker’s compensation insurer, those who have the misfortune of developing a psychological condition at work can expect to be “put through the wringer” in what’s become an application process that is only guaranteed to bring you a standardised rejection letter.
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What else should employers know about the new casual landscape?
The new statutory definition of ‘casual’ employment in the Fair Work Act (explained in our earlier article) comes with a new regime for dealing with casuals. This is a summary of the other aspects of the regime which employers need to know.
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24 March 2021



Casual work defined for the first time under new laws
The federal government has been forced to abandon the bulk of a controversial industrial relations bill, failing to negotiate it through the Senate. The only measure in the wide-ranging bill successfully passed was to legally define casual work, in an effort to avoid leaving businesses liable for potentially billions of dollars in back-pay.
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A Reminder On The Importance Of Consultation
The Melbourne lockdowns have had an undeniable impact on businesses and seen a number of redundancies. In a recent Fair Work Commission decision the importance of consultation as required by a modern award was made clear.
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Young Adelaide worker blacklisted online after speaking out against her former employer
A young female victim of an alleged assault that took place in an Adelaide bubble tea bar has been blacklisted by an anonymous user after speaking out about her former employer.
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Australian businesses can require customers to prove they've had Covid jab, regulator says
Businesses will be able to require customers and visitors to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 as a condition for entry, according to guidance by Australia’s work health and safety regulator.
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Vaccine rollout ‘one of biggest workplace relations issues’ of year
The state’s peak business body says the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will be one of the biggest workplace relations issues of the year and is warning that employers face potential legal action if state and federal governments can’t provide better advice about health and safety obligations.
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With no incentive to do better, bad behaviour keeps festering in the dark corridors of power
Our politics desperately need HR reform.
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Guidance on COVID-19 Consultation
The Fair Work Commission has put forward a recommended framework for consulting about COVID-19 related proposals to Santos, AWU and the AMWU, after the AMWU and the AWU notified disputes about changes regarding Government COVID-19 guidelines and Santos’ responses. Commissioner Peter Hampton recommended a broader approach to consulting workers and their representatives.
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Dealing with Issues of Sexual Misconduct through People Management
In light of the recent controversy surrounding allegations of sexual assault occurring in Parliament, organisations need to consider whether they are addressing systemic issues of sexual misconduct.
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The arbitral power of the Fair Work Commission: Dispute resolution provisions under inherited enterprise agreements
The Federal Court of Australia recently decided that the Fair Work Commission has the power to arbitrate disputes under enterprise agreements inherited by new employers following a transfer of business. The decision may have far reaching consequences for employers who have inherited an enterprise agreement, which can happen when businesses are acquired, merged or restructured.
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3 February 2021



Mandatory vaccinations in the employment law context
Following Scott Morrison’s decision on 7 January to roll out the COVID-19 Vaccine National Strategy, businesses may be considering mandatory vaccinations for all employees to reduce the risk to their business, employees and customers. But what happens when your employees refuse to be vaccinated?
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Wage theft crisis opens gate for graduates who can navigate IR waters
Amid all the challenges of the global pandemic, there was another issue that loomed large last year: wage theft in businesses that are household names. The human resources and industrial relations functions have become increasingly important to achieving legal compliance and avoiding negative media attention. Given this, we can expect rising demand for university graduates with the skills to navigate the industrial relations system.
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One Nation warns Coalition on workplace changes as Labor ramps up attack
The omnibus bill, released in December, has sparked a major political fight between the government, unions and Labor, which resolved on Tuesday at its caucus to oppose the bill.
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Stress-related absence among HR increased by 70 per cent in 2020, research suggests
There was a 70 per cent rise in the number of stress-related absences among HR professionals in 2020 compared to the previous year, research has found.
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13 January 2021



My employer wants me to return to the workplace. Can I refuse?
There’s an interesting workplace battle brewing around Australia between office workers and their employers. While many employers have found that working from home has had negligible, if any, adverse effects on productivity, others believe it has indeed had a negative impact, and want to get things back to the way they were pre-pandemic, in order to start rectifying the economic damage done. But what does the law say about returning to the workplace?
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Workplace Culture – a Proactive Approach to Bullying and Harassment
It has recently been alleged that the NSW Police has a culture of bullying and harassment. The allegation made by both former and current officers is that the internal complaints system is being misused to target “good” officers. It is a timely reminder for leaders to reflect on whether their organisation’s culture post-pandemic has remained consistent across all teams. More broadly, organisations should take active steps to audit and rectify workplace cultural issues rather than await adverse reporting.
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Changes to casual employment, awards and paid domestic and family violence leave in store for 2021
At the end of 2020, the Federal Government introduced two new bills to amend the Fair Work Act. The DFVL Bill proposes to improve the existing entitlements of the National Employment Standards of the FW Act. The SAJER Bill proposes to ‘improve the operation and usability of the national industrial relations system’ by making a number of changes to the FW Act.
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Hope and Counting Time are not People Management Strategies
COVID-19 is not going anywhere. While individual states and territories apply their own strategies for managing outbreaks and community transmission, the universal reality for business is the need to develop a people management strategy which operates within the uncertainties, rather than waiting for certainty to return.
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Reasonable or burdensome? To what length should an employer mitigate the risk of injury
In workers’ compensation negligence claims, it is necessary to show that a reasonable employer ought to have taken preventative measures to guard against the risk of harm to the employee. However, what are reasonable preventative measures and when do precautions become unreasonably burdensome?
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Overtime or overload? When is working on weekends part of the job?
We all know how precious our weekends are - for well-earned downtime and respite from work, but many of us also spend time on weekends caring for children and other family members. In a recent decision, Commissioner Webster of the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW provided local councils with helpful guidance on their ability to make employees work overtime on weekends when they didn’t want to.
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Will the government’s new casual loading offset provisions prevent double-dipping?
Over the last six months, the federal government has been openly critical of the decisions of the Federal Court of Australia in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato [2020] FCAFC 84 and WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131. It has also recently supported a successful application for special leave to appeal the Rossato decision in the High Court of Australia
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Mechanic’s redundancy pay cut after FWC rules redeployment opportunity with additional travel time was acceptable
Employers have long known they are obliged to try to find new employment opportunities for employees who are faced with the redundancy of their current role. This might include redeployment within the business or its related companies, or finding employment with a third party. Despite employers’ best efforts to preserve employment, from time to time, disputes arise when employees would rather have redundancy pay than a new role, or where the new role is not an adequate substitute for the old one.
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Full-time works: Why the unrelenting pandemic is actually a reason against hiring contractors
Contractors can seem like a great solution for small-to-medium businesses. On the face of it, they provide fewer outgoings, greater flexibility and less management. They don’t need extensive training, and they’re generally happy to get on with the job with a minimum amount of fuss. After a year of unpredictability, what’s not to like? Unfortunately, there’s a problem with this approach.
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3 Dec 2020



The New Normal: Could we see 'No jab no work'?
With Australia transitioning into a recovery phase, there are new areas of the working relationship which employers will need to adjust to in the post-pandemic working environment. There have been developments in recent weeks which have shed light on new work paradigms which employers need to prepare for.
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WorkPac vs Rossato - how employers can prepare for the outcome of the High Court decision
The High Court of Australia has granted labour hire company WorkPac Pty Ltd special leave to appeal the controversial decision in WorkPac v Rossato in an attempt to correct the confusion around the definition of casual employment.
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IR reforms could see higher casual wages for retail and hospitality workers
The federal government is expected to introduce an industrial relations reform package to parliament next week, in a move that could see a new definition of casual work, and result in a higher rate of pay for retail and hospitality workers.
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Compulsory vaccinations for employees: The legal position
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the race to create a safe, effective vaccine for the virus, the issue of vaccination is firmly on the agenda. For instance, the CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, has recently caused controversy by suggesting that passengers on Qantas international flights might need to be vaccinated as a condition of boarding.
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Another day, another sacking by text message
Employees of retail chain Riot Art & Craft were recently terminated after the company went into liquidation. The 300 odd employees from the company’s 56 stores are reported to have learned about their dismissal by a group text message sent by a director after weeks of assurances from management that new stock was coming in and everything would be back to business as usual. It’s an all too familiar story and an issue that our reliance on technology is allowing to become more prevalent.
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Sexual Harassment met with Aggravated Damages
Recently, the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal made an aggravated damages order against a Toll Transport courier for sexually harassing a Sanity store manager and then serving her with a retaliatory defamation letter after she lodged an internal complaint about his behaviour.
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Tips for starting a new job while working from home
Starting with a new employer remotely has been a shared experience for many during the pandemic. While a lot of making the transition smooth will come down to your boss, there are things individuals can do to make it as successful as possible.
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Workplace relationships not unlawful, but difficult if there’s a power imbalance
Angela Knox, an associate professor of human resources at the University of Sydney’s Business School, says a consensual relationship between co-workers is not unlawful but “it’s an ethical conundrum”.
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Workers bear 71% to 100% of the cost of increases in compulsory super
The government’s much-anticipated Retirement Incomes Review has found that increases in employer’s compulsory superannuation contributions are financed by reductions in workers’ wage growth. This isn’t obvious, and it certainly isn’t what the superannuation industry has been saying.
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18 Nov 2020



Personal Liability Under The Fair Work Act: Could A Recent High Court Decision Widen The Scope Of Liability?
The scope of persons who may be held personally liable under the Fair Work Act 2009 for contraventions by their employer, may be wider than first thought as a result of a High Court decision which has held that “influence” and not position title, is a key consideration in determining whether a person meets the definition of an “officer” of a corporation under the Corporations Act 2001.
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More than 200,000 aged care workers seek 25% pay rise in landmark Australian case
Unlike enterprise bargaining, in which employees and their unions seek pay rises from their employers, the case in the Fair Work Commission would allow the industrial tribunal to lift wages across the sector by varying the award. The case picks up a recommendation of counsel assisting the aged care royal commission to seek higher minimum wages in the sector by arguing that the conditions, nature and skill of the jobs justify a pay rise.
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Cosmetics company Lush admits to underpaying Australian workers by $4.4m
The British based firm prides itself on its hand-made products and ethical supply chain. "The contraventions were caused by Lush’s inadequate workplace relations systems and processes, including a lack of training for staff and managers, a manual payroll system, and the absence of a HR department in a rapidly growing business," the ombudsman said.
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Working from Home: Employer not Required to Supply Desk
With large portions of the workforce continuing to work from home, a recent Fair Work Commission decision provides employers with some guidance on complying with workplace health and safety requirements through an unfair dismissal lens. In particular, in relation to the provision of "furniture" for employees working from home.
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Privacy and Discrimination concerns with Online Meetings
The way we communicate with our colleagues, customers and suppliers has changed. COVID-19 and the subsequent move en masse to working from home has triggered a sharp increase in the use of the online meeting and with it comes heightened privacy and discrimination concerns.
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When is Reinstatement an Appropriate Remedy?
A recent Fair Work Commission decision found that reinstatement was an appropriate remedy notwithstanding the labour hire company’s contention that it lacked contractual power to reinstate the applicant to his former position with its client.
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Remote work requires us to reconsider how to evaluate and pay employees
Existing evaluation processes weren’t designed for the virtual workplace. Now that work is being done differently, organizations need to rethink the types of behaviours that are being rewarded.
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5 Nov 2020



Is it legal to advertise positions for JobMaker-eligible candidates only?
The Government's JobMaker scheme has drawn criticism from some for potentially encouraging a form of age discrimination, after job advertisements began to surface which made eligibility for the scheme a requirement for applicants. As a result, the lawfulness of the scheme itself is also being called into question.
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Termination v Resignation: When employee disputes lead to unfair dismissal claims
It is surprisingly common how often a dispute arises between an employer and employee as to how the employment relationship ended – was it by resignation by the employee, or termination by the employer?
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Employer ordered to pay $1.1 million in damages for termination
A Supreme Court decision highlighted the importance for employers to pay terminated employees their full entitlements including payment in lieu of the notice period and any incentives/bonuses. The case hinged on whether the parties were bound by an old contract or whether the new contract which was unsigned applied which would determine the notice period owed to the employee.
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New Guidance in NSW On Creating Psychologically Healthy Workplaces
The draft Code of Practice is designed to supplement the existing legislative framework, and operate as a practical guide for duty holders with respect to establishing psychologically healthy and safe workplaces, and compliance with their obligations under the WHS Act.
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Industrial Manslaughter in WA – A Practical Guide
Western Australia’s upper house has passed new OSH legislation creating an offence of industrial manslaughter. It is expected that the legislation will be passed by the lower house and become law in November 2020.
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TechOne to pay out $5.2M in unfair dismissal and bullying case
TechnologyOne has lost its long-running court battle with a former employee, who accused the software vendor of unfair dismissal and workplace bullying. A Federal Court has ordered TechnolgyOne to pay $5.2 million to its former regional manager for Victoria, Behnam Roohizadegan, who originally filed a $14.8 million suit against the company.
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Unreasonable Performance Expectations During COVID-19
A recent unfair dismissal decision by the Fair Work Commission highlights the need for employers to consider how they manage employees and whether they are setting unreasonable performance expectations during COVID-19.
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Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) enforcement and compliance powers on the rise
The release of the Fair Work Ombudsman 2019/2020 Annual Report is a stark reminder of the need to ensure compliance issues are dealt with swiftly and not left on the backburner. While the need to implement drastic changes to adapt to the “new normal” has led to a shift of focus and priorities for some organisations, a revised Fair Work Ombudsman strategy has resulted in a significant increase in the use of FWO enforcement and compliance powers.
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Incentives, bribes and Cartier watches can actually lower an employee’s quality of work
In light of current discussions about executive performance bonuses and incentives, and exceptional payments for personal items and services, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at the possible impact of incentive and rewards systems on the quality of our decision-making, the effect on workplace performance and sustainable business practices. This applies to incentives paid to salespeople and other employees, as well.
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Blink and you'll miss it: what the budget did for working mums
Working mothers get something in the budget, but not much, and not for long. Before the budget the second earner in a couple with young children (usually the mother) lost almost all of the income she made working for the second, third, forth and fifth days per week. It might be why many mothers work only one or two days per week.
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29 Nov 2020



A spike in incidents: What makes Zoom meetings and virtual workplaces so ripe for harassment?
Since COVID-19, there’s been an 87% increase in adult cyber abuse reports in Australia, compared to the 2019 monthly average. Of those victims, 66% were female. Most abuse consists of being sent unwanted messages, receiving inappropriate content such as pornography or violent content, or being electronically tracked without consent. What is it about the virtual meeting that makes it so ripe for abuse?
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Workplace harassment making headlines
There have been a number of high profile sexual harassment cases in the news recently and interestingly the combination of Coronavirus, working from home and the recent cases are encouraging more workplace sexual harassment complaints. Victoria’s equal opportunity Commissioner has reported that sexual harassment complaints are up about 8 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia. It appears that working from home and the distance from the office this creates as well as being separated from the alleged perpetrator has seen an increase in the number of historic complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace.
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REMINDER: Minimum wage increase for some awards from 1 Nov 2020
Following the Fair Work Commission's (FWC) Annual Wage Review decision on Friday 19 June 2020 (see our earlier article here), the modern award minimum wages for Group 2 modern awards will increase by 1.75 per cent from 1 November 2020. A list of the Group 2 modern awards is set out at the end of this article.
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Private school's stand down invalidated
Many employers have sought to stand down parts of their workforce without pay in response to the changing environment created by COVID-19. Strict requirements apply to do so validly under the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act). The recent Peninsula Grammar School decision demonstrates the Fair Work Commission’s approach of invalidating stand downs based on a mere reduction in available work.
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Latest guidance on COVID-safe workplaces and transition planning
As COVID-19 restrictions ease across Australia, Comcare has developed guidance to help employers support workers as they transition back to usual workplaces.
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Industrial manslaughter charge laid against Gympie business owner
The independent Work Health and Safety Prosecutor, Mr Aaron Guilfoyle, has commenced an industrial manslaughter prosecution against the owner of a Gympie business which sells and services electric motors.
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VIC: $20,000 fine for inadequate contractor induction after aged care resident burned
A residential aged care facility owner/operator failed, so far as was reasonably practicable, to ensure that catering contractors were sufficiently inducted at the workplace so they knew, should an emergency arise where the emergency/call buttons were located.
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Let's Talk: Diversity
A variety of Australian business leaders talk about creating a diverse and inclusive culture in their workplaces.
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Here's something you may not have heard recently: it's okay to struggle with working from home.
Between juggling work, family life and tertiary study all in the same physical place, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The change to your schedule – particularly when you’re used to going into the office – can also stir a self-inflicted pressure to continue performing full-steam ahead. Sounding all too familiar? You're not alone.
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22 October 2020

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in keeping Australian Workplaces Safe
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, most Australian businesses were looking into ways to use artificial intelligence in the workplace, mainly to increase productivity and streamline operations. Now, companies are also searching for ways to ensure their workers’ health using AI monitoring.
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Humanizing work post-COVID - get radical, share more and go deeper, says Gartner
Forget about work/life balance, the new relationship between employees and employers is far closer, yet more flexible. Gartner’s Brian Kropp pitches the drivers behind a post-COVID change.
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The Restrictions of a Non-Compete Clause
While not all employment contracts will contain non-compete or confidentiality clauses, those businesses that deal with intellectual property and other sensitive proprietary information may include these clauses in their employment contracts. These clauses are legal if they are crafted properly and protect a legitimate business interest. However, a non-compete clause or confidentiality requirement cannot be overly burdensome on the employee. If it is found to be overly restrictive the Courts will most likely find it is invalid.
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An independent review of the temporary JobKeeper provisions of the Fair Work Act has been released.
The Government engaged Nous Group to conduct this review. Nous Group consulted with employer and employee representatives, as well as the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Commission. They also used relevant survey and other data on the use and impact of the temporary amendments.
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"Reasonable Notice" Sounds innocuous but can be expensive
It is a trite proposition that employment contracts are important. One key benefit of having an applicable employment contract in place governing an employment relationship is that the notice an employer is required to give to the employee to terminate employment is, subject to the minimum legislative requirements in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), the period specified in that contract. As a general proposition, the specified periods of notice in employment contracts are rarely more than 6 months (usually for senior executives) and more commonly between 1 and 3 months.
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Is a safety regulator’s enforcement notice always valid? Not if the notice was issued ‘under dictation’
Organisations should carefully review the context in which enforcement notices are issued by safety regulators, following a finding by the NSW Ombudsman that SafeWork NSW inspectors, who did not hold a ‘reasonable belief’ of safety contraventions, unlawfully issued enforcement notices to the Blue Mountains City Council (Council) in 2017 and 2018.
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It’s time for #wetoo – Why a cultural hashtag must be embedded into our workplace, domestic and everyday culture
There’s a terrible statistic from 2019 that shows one in every nine workers reported being bullied at work. Australian bullying prevention organisation Bully Zero crunched the numbers on this workplace issue, and reported that one in three women and one in five men with mental health disorders cite bullying and harassment as the main reason for their ill health, and that in 85% of bullying cases, peers are present as onlookers.
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How to Manage and Dismiss an Employee with a Physical Injury
As a business owner, you will probably need to manage an employee with a physical illness or injury at some point. While handling these situations, you will need to navigate the employee’s legal entitlements and consider the risks of dismissing an injured employee. You should ultimately seek an outcome that: is beneficial for you and the employee; and avoids the potential for the employee to make a legal claim.
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15th October 2020

Privacy and Discrimination concerns with Online Meetings
The way we communicate with our colleagues, customers and suppliers has changed. COVID-19 and the subsequent move en masse to working from home has triggered a sharp increase in the use of the online meeting and with it comes heightened privacy and discrimination concerns.
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Dismissal by SMS or email may not be unlawful – but it’s extremely unwise
Sometimes, it is not possible to communicate face-to-face with employees about significant matters. For instance, if an employee is absent and there is a need to proceed with consulting about an organisational restructure or investigating alleged misconduct, electronic communications may be necessary. Even in an organisation where information between employers and employees is regularly conveyed electronically, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) expects notice of dismissal to be delivered face-to-face.
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Secondary injuries under the Workers Compensation Act
Unfortunately, for some workers, they not only suffer a single injury at work but will sometimes develop a further injury as a result of that injury. These latter injuries, also known as a 'Secondary Injuries,' while not always sustained at work, can still entitle workers to compensation entitlements.
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Don’t Forget to Include These in Your Employment Contract
Employment contracts are legal documents that are crucial for employers as well as employees. A strong, watertight employment contract, compliant with current employment legislation, can protect employers from potential lawsuits and keep employees from breaching the terms.
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Western Power signs Enforceable Undertaking
Western Australian electricity network provider Western Power has back-paid employees more than $8 million, and is reporting to the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure it correctly calculates and finalises further significant back-payments.
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Online directory business in court for underpayment of wages
A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice in February this year after forming a belief that the company had underpaid five employees for periods of work between June and August, 2019. Three of the employees were young workers. The inspector believed that four of the employees were paid no wages at all, while the other was not paid for all hours worked, resulting in underpayment of wages and leave entitlements under the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010.
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Adverse action and the direction to attend medical assessments
The Federal Circuit Court confirms that employers can direct an employee to attend an Independent Medical Assessment (IMA), even when an employee is absent from work on personal leave and that the exercise of a workplace right does not include the right not to work. This was confirmed by the Court in May 2018, but it is becoming an important issue for some employers as some employees are resistant to returning to work on-site after working from home for months on end.
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1 Oct 2020



How did the Australian businesses perform amid COVID-19 pandemic?
Most of the factors from the AlphaBeta research have showed that Australian businesses have become a lot more technology resilient, having a lot bigger improvement in a year than in the last 10 years combined. Productivity in the workplace was mixed depending on the employee, so businesses will need to do further research and see what brings more money, staying at home or working back from the office.
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The silent epidemic: 8 out of 10 Aussie workers feel ‘unsafe to share struggles’ during COVID-19
A new report into workplace wellbeing during COVID-19 has revealed a significant portion of Australian workers haven’t felt safe to share their struggles with others in the work environment. The report by global positive psychology experts The Wellbeing Lab and Australia’s peak human resources industry body AHRI, has found eight out of ten Australian workers reported feeling ‘unsafe sharing their struggles at work’.
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Have we just stumbled on the biggest productivity increase of the century?
One of the most striking responses to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the sudden shift of around half the workforce to working at home. In many cases, this was combined with an equally sudden shift to home schooling. Contrary to what might have been expected, working from home was one part of the pandemic response that went remarkably smoothly. Most kinds of office work continued almost as if nothing had changed. Discussion of the crisis has mostly worked on the assumption that a return to something like the pre-crisis “normal” is both inevitable and desirable.
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HESTA, fund managers use $1 trillion stake to lobby for female executives
A major industry superannuation fund has teamed up with fund managers responsible for more than $1 trillion to lobby Australia's 200 biggest businesses to hire women in at least 40 per cent of executive jobs.
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Hit jobs trigger on the supply side
The Treasurer's 'comfortably under 6 per cent' unemployment trigger for budget repair won't be hit without the supply-side IR and tax structural reform heavy lifting needed to promote job creation.
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Australian manufacturers to receive $1.5 billion from Morrison government
Australian manufacturers across six priority areas will receive more help to expand in high-value areas through an almost $1.5 billion budget boost. Prime Minister Scott Morrison will outline the coalition's manufacturing strategy at the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday.
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Australia's award system: still modern, or set for more change?
The issue of Australian employers miscalculating wages and other entitlements is on the minds of businesses, with the prospect of criminal penalties being raised by the federal government in September 2019 and the Victorian and Queensland state governments recently passing wage theft legislation. The number of companies reporting miscalculations continues to grow, and may indicate that Australia's award system is too complex. Many companies looking to do business in Australia ask about the minimum payment obligations they must comply with, and the answer is often far more complicated than the question. But that might be about to change.
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9 September 2020



The new challenge for bosses: spy or trust?
What happens to privacy in a world where there is no physical boundary between professional and private life?
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Will The 3+2 “Hybrid” Workplace Of Home And Office Become The New Norm For Business?
A growing body of research from BCG, Gallup and others indicates a large majority of the workers forced to abandon their offices by the viral pandemic are content working from home. In fact, many want to continue doing so after the Covid-19 threat subsides. Interestingly, parallel research indicates most employers seem satisfied with the new working arrangements. If some employees want to work from home part of the time after their offices reopen, most employers (perhaps as many as 80%, according to preliminary data compiled by my BCG colleagues) seem okay with that.
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Right to toilet break a relief for employees
In the recent decision of Retail and Fast Food Workers Union Incorporated v Tantex Holdings Pty Ltd [2020] FCA 1258, an Aus­tralian court (namely the Federal Court) has, for the first time, held that employees have a workplace right to use the toilet and drink water while at work.
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HR's modern-day role needs examining
HR has never been more intimately aligned with business objectives. This is generally seen as a good thing. However, in at least one regard, there is a glaring problem that is not adequately addressed within this arrangement, and that is employee complaint procedures.
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Inappropriate Workplace Relationships: The "McUnhappy Meal"
The former CEO of McDonald’s is being sued by McDonald’s to recover his $US 40m termination package for allegedly lying about his relationships with other employees, which highlights the risks of failing to manage employees having inappropriate workplace relationships.
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Australia's real JobKiller? Its outdated workplace system
The grim prospect of prolonged unemployment must finally produce an overhaul of the industrial relations system to make it easier to hire and invest in people in the post-COVID world.
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Extended Stand Down Powers Under JobKeeper 2.0
Further to our JobKeeper 2.0 update, the new Part 6-4C of the Fair Work Act has been extended to operate until 28 March 2021. This temporary provision authorizes employers who continue to be eligible for JobKeeper to exercise more flexible powers to stand down employees who cannot be usefully employed for their normal days or hours because of changes to the business attributable to: the COVID-19 pandemic; or government initiatives to slow the transmission of COVID-19.
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The future of outsourcing in the aftermath of COVID-19
COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in the traditional outsourcing model. As the world finds a ‘new normal’, key learnings from the pandemic are likely to shape the way organisations approach their outsourcing arrangements into the future.
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Managing a Team During Lockdown
As Brené Brown stated, "The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome."
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2nd Sept 2020



Keeping up the fight for equal pay
Gender wage gaps remain highly resistant to change: the most recent figures from the OECD show an average gap of 13 per cent across OECD countries in 2018, only a marginal improvement on the average gap of 15 per cent recorded 10 years earlier in 2008. This is in spite of increasingly high education levels among women.
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When offices reopen, expect resurgence of dreaded hot-desking
Most office workers now dream of weeks in which they can choose to come into an office as and when they please. A recent study from strategy firms Iometrics and Global Workplace Analytics found that two days a week was the most popular choice when staff were surveyed on how often they would like to work from home. However there is a catch...
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Exploited: HR manager's apology 'meaningless'
A South Australian convenience store chain has been ordered to pay a low-paid trainee employee almost $65,000 in penalties. The chain had used various tactics that resulted in him being underpaid, including working without pay for regular short periods each shift and not being paid penalty rates for overtime.
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Why every workplace needs a Mental Health Critical Incident Protocol
With mental illness on the rise due to COVID-19, employers need to implement a plan to care for their employees. This includes a Mental Health Critical Incident Protocol – a guide to managing serious mental health incidents in the workplace.
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Women worked an extra 59 days to earn the same as their male colleagues
The new national gender pay gap for the six months to May 2020 is 14.0%. Equal Pay Day, on 28 August, marked the 59 additional days Australian women worked to earn the same as men in the same year.
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Dismissing a long-term employee for a safety breach: Key considerations for employers
The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has upheld the dismissal of an employee with 30 years' service and a satisfactory safety record after the employee breached a key safety protocol in which he had received adequate training. The Full Bench's recent decision highlights key considerations that employers must turn their minds to before terminating an employee's employment for breaching safety protocols.
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Remote workforces – a popular fad but kryptonite for culture
In these late Covid-19 times, telecommuting and working remotely is as popular as a Dua Lipa single but is it sustainable for professional services firms? Or will the world’s infatuation with virtual workplaces have all the endurance of a Zsa Zsa Gabor marriage?
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A Serious Win for Casual Employees and a Warning to Employers
A decision by the Fair Work Commission has opened the door for casual employees to bring unfair dismissal claims against their employers.
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26th August 2020



AMP's 'MeToo' moment raises bigger questions for corporate Australia about sexual harassment
If financial services giant AMP really wants to change its culture, there's no need to keep updating the handbook on diversity and inclusion — it should start listening to its women.
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Workplaces are turning to devices to monitor social distancing, but does the tech respect privacy?
As we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, those of us who still have a workplace may not recognize it. Businesses, eager to limit liability for employees and customers, are considering a variety of emerging technologies for limiting pandemic spread.
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Hundreds of university staff vote to take unprotected strike
A group called the National Higher Education Action Network, which includes disaffected members of the National Tertiary Education Union from universities around the country, held a Zoom meeting on Monday afternoon that endorsed the motion to strike.
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Company fined $60,000 over bee sting death
A mining contractor has been fined $60,000 over the death of a contractor who suffered a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting.
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SA supermarket group facing class action over claims it underpaid staff by nearly $20m
One of South Australia's largest independent retail groups has been accused of wage theft that could amount to $20 million in total underpayments to at least 500 employees. Current and former employees of Romeo's Retail Group have launched a class action in the Federal Court over allegations dating back to 2014.
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Half of Aussie employees are hesitant to go back to workplaces any time soon
The coronavirus pandemic has potentially changed the way Australians work forever, with new research showing at least half of the nation's professional population are still hesitant to return to a physical workplace any time soon.
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Disturbing conversation between employer and QBE insurance over workers compensation revealed
An investigation into the handling of workers compensation claims by one of the country’s biggest insurers, QBE, gives a rare insight into practices including altered evidence, doctor shopping and missing files.
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'Egregious disrespect': University vice-chancellor sexually harassed colleagues, ICAC finds
South Australia's Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) has found former University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen committed "serious misconduct" by sexually harassing two women.
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Are you using the correct version of the Fair Work Information Statement that must be provided to all employees under the NES?
On 13 August 2020, the High Court handed down a decision about the method of accruing and taking paid personal/carer’s leave under the National Employment Standards. The High Court found that the entitlement to 10 days of personal/carer’s leave is calculated based on an employee’s ordinary hours of work, not days. The 10 days of personal leave can be calculated as 1/26 of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a year.
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Employment Law Update: Jobkeeper 2.0
Key dates and conditions for employers who wish to claim JobKeeper since the announcement of the extended JobKeeper Payment scheme.
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19th August 2020



Condonation costs employer who had valid reason
In another case confirming the laws of condonation, the Fair Work Commission has determined that an abusive worker was unfairly dismissed, even though he had a history of aggression which led to another employee resigning out of fear of the worker.
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High Court calculation of personal/carer’s leave: a win for employers
The High Court has overturned the Full Federal Court’s controversial decision in Mondelez v AMWU [2019] FCAFC 138, about the meaning of a ‘day’ for the purposes of personal/carer’s leave entitlements under section 96 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FWA).
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Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Providing equipment to make a workplace safe is simply not enough. Employees need to be told how to use it most beneficially for them and to be reminded of what they have to do, if and when reasonably practicable.
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Why consultation is important when downsizing – even during the pandemic
If you retrench employees in response to a downturn in business flowing from the current pandemic, you need to consider your unfair dismissal exposure.
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Working from home to avoid a toxic workplace?
One in five workers in Australia are affected by mental health issues, and factors that indicate the mental health and wellbeing is not being prioritised within an organisation include "high levels of turnover, absenteeism and sick leave, and conflicts in the workplace such as bullying".
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One Stop Warehouse former HR manager accuses company of underpaying staff
A former human resources manager for Australia's biggest solar panel distributor is accusing the company of underpaying its staff.
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Low-paid, young women: the grim truth about who this recession is hitting hardest
When a recession hits, no group of workers is immune. But some are harder hit than others. The latest labour market figures are giving us a good idea of who is being hardest hit this time.
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5 August 2020



Government moves on paid pandemic leave
The federal government will provide $1500 a fortnight in paid pandemic leave for Victorian workers who have run out of sick leave as they deal with the coronavirus. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the two-week “disaster payment” would be based on the model put in place by the Victorian government.
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Former ACTU boss says workers have shouldered enough pandemic costs
The unionist who led workers through the Hawke and Keating era reforms that modernised Australia's economy and underpinned years of economic growth has warned Australia's workers have already shouldered their fair share of the costs of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Corporate watchdog call to book 'regular' casual liabilities
Companies must calculate how much they owe in leave and other entitlements to "regular" casuals under new guidance from the corporate regulator that may hit the aged-care sector and other struggling employers in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has advised corporations they should now calculate annual leave and redundancy pay owed to current and former casuals who worked regular and predictable shifts, as well as contingent liabilities for borderline cases, in their next financial statement.
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Working from home can stifle sexual harassment complaints
People working from home during the pandemic are more vulnerable to bullying and harassment, with legal researchers warning the high cost of litigation is also stifling complaints. Associate Professor Dominique Allen and Adriana Orifici from the Monash University Business School said working from home has made it more difficult for workplaces to detect sexual harassment. There were fewer opportunities for incidental observation of inappropriate behaviour and early intervention by supervisors or bystanders during online communication.
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Superannuation Guarantee Charge Amnesty – Time is almost up!
The looming deadline of 7 September 2020 is the last opportunity to secure the compulsory Superannuation Guarantee Charge (SGC) Amnesty. First introduced on 6 March 2020, the amnesty window closes in mere weeks. Who can benefit? All employers, including small employer companies where the only compulsory super is for the benefit of the owner.
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Workplace Massage Justifies Summary Dismissal says FWC
The Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) has found that a massage justified summary dismissal in circumstances where a small contract cleaning company discovered that its employee had, some five months earlier, agreed to help a school teacher with her back pain.
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KPMG excluded from industrial relations summit after allegedly leaking details
KPMG has been excluded from the government’s industrial relations consultations after publishing a discussion paper that was deemed a leak from the secret talks.
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Why it’s time to talk about racism in the workplace
COVID-19 has unquestionably turned our professional lives upside down, but is it really the reason we aren’t talking about racism at work? Do we think our workplaces are immune to racism?
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29 July 2020



Scott Morrison opens door to paid pandemic leave for workers needing to self-isolate
Workers could gain the right to paid leave to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic after Scott Morrison revealed he had asked the industrial relations minister to discuss it with unions and business.
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Responding to employees who use domestic and family violence
Male Champions of Change, with the support of key partners, has developed a new resource to guide organisations in responding to employees who may use domestic and family violence.
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Google Employees Will Continue Working From Home Until July 2021
As Google joins a growing list of companies allowing employees to continue working from home, it raises the question: is COVID-19 the end of the office space?
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Companies with women in the boardroom perform better
The correlation between having women in leadership and strong economic performance has been conclusively established at long last by Australian researchers. Businesses that appointed female CEOs in the last six years have upped their market value by five percent.
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Small business ombudsman calls for new and simpler award for employee pay and conditions
The pay and conditions of small business employees should be set by a new and simpler award with a “permaflexi” classification for casual staff to receive benefits such as sick pay, according to the small and family business ombudsman.
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Victoria shows coronavirus is a pandemic of casual, insecure work
The pandemic has exposed the public health shortcomings of the massive growth of insecure work over the past few decades. "The culture of going to work sick is killing people," a workers' rights advocate says.
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What is and isn't workplace bullying
When Rebekah was accused of bullying, she wasn't surprised. She had attempted to performance-manage a team member, and it hadn't gone well.
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What you can do if your office isn't adopting coronavirus-safe practices
As some of us contemplate a return to office-based work, employers and employees are facing a completely new work landscape to the one they left before the coronavirus outbreak. Let's take a look at what workplaces are required to do to be COVID-safe — and what employees can do if their office isn't complying with the guidelines..
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22 July 2020



What we lose with the end of office culture
Some four or more months in, many workers around the world have fully adjusted—some happily, others less so—to working from home. Temporary couch setups have been replaced by standup desks and ergonomic chairs and proper home offices with the longer term in mind. The bookshelves are Zoom-ready; terms with family members turned office mates have been negotiated. But while the aesthetics and dynamics of our post-pandemic work life may be satisfactory enough, maybe even somewhat pleasurable—the commute is certainly a time-saver—the end of conventional work life won’t come without some cost.
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Working from home? Til death do us part
On a winter’s day in 2010, Michel Carroll and her partner, Steven Hill, were working from home. They were employed by a family company which provided financial advice. On that fateful day, Ms Carroll was killed by Mr Hill. The attack was brought on by a paranoid delusion, associated with Ms Carroll's work.
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Calls for paid pandemic leave are growing after 80% of Victorian coronavirus cases were linked to the workplace
It’s a concerning admission less than a month after the country had looked like containing the virus. As businesses try to remain open and the federal government tries to kickstart an economic recovery, high workplace transmission will remain a key obstacle. To overcome it, Australia’s unions are calling for workers to be given scope to stay home.
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Victoria Police Face Mask Enforcement in Workplaces
With the requirement that Melbourne workers must wear face masks from 23 July, Victoria Police will be conducting an inspection and enforcement blitz at workplaces across the State. The Premier has indicated that there will be a particular focus on high risk workplaces, including distribution centres, call centres and meat processing centres..
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What is FWO prioritising for year ahead?
The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced the regulator’s strategic priorities for the year ahead, which include supporting all workplaces through the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing large corporate underpayments.
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The list of 50 best places to work in Australia in 2020 has been released
The list was chosen by global workplace research and consulting firm, Great Place to Work. It was done between September 2019 and June 2020 – including when COVID hit – and took into account more than 39,000 Aussie based workers across 124 companies.
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How building your employees’ financial confidence shows you care
Lali Wiratunga, national manager of Westpac’s financial education experts, the Davidson Institute, shares some tips to better understand the importance of improving your employees’ financial confidence and where help is available.
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Millions of Australian workers say they will still come to work with coronavirus symptoms
Millions of Australians are still showing up to work with coronavirus symptoms despite pleas for them to stay home, a survey has found.
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NSW urged to take its hand off the anti-slavery law 'pause button'
Catholic lawyers have accused the state government of stalling the start of anti-slavery laws that would force it to confront the risk of forced labour in its own supply chains.
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The real reason Lee Lin Chin left SBS
Former SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin says she left broadcaster due to ‘mistreatment of staff’. Her decision to publicly rebuke SBS management follows revelations by other former staffers that they suffered racism in the workplace.
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15th July 2020



Truly family-friendly workplaces are key to economic recovery
The chasm between how Australians combine work and home life is no longer invisible and the current crisis has exposed the heart of the issues that are holding back progress.
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Retailers spared wage scrutiny as they battle “financial strain”
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker has announced the regulator’s strategic priorities for the year ahead, which include supporting all workplaces through the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing large corporate underpayments.
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Report into gig economy reveals human cost of insecure work
Rates of gig economy work have been increasing, and this type of work is just one part of the expansion of insecure work in Australia according to the damning findings of a landmark report into the so-called gig economy in Victoria released today and welcomed by the ACTU.
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Employers have been put on notice – sexual harassment is an occupational hazard
There has been a shift in recognising the role work health and safety regulators should play by using their existing powers to prevent sexual harassment, and the harm it causes, from ever taking place.
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‘Toxic’ legal workplaces must be tackled collectively
Last week, over 500 female legal professionals wrote to Attorney-General Christian Porter, calling on the government to “seize the moment” and establish a complaints body operating independently of the judiciary. Elsewhere, it has been argued that law firms need to be taking more proactive steps to combat such misconduct.
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Avoid Work Burnout With These Science-Backed Tips
If you’re struggling to switch off from work even if the day’s over and you’re headed to bed, it’s a telling sign you’re struggling to achieve work-life balance. To help your overall well-being, here are some tips to avoid a burnout without disrupting your professional life.
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There's serious talk about a "job guarantee", but it's not that straightforward
Suddenly, the idea of a “job guarantee” is back in vogue. The idea is that the government would make an unconditional job offer at a minimum wage to anyone willing and able to work. There would be no need for the Newstart unemployment benefit (now called JobSeeker).
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Teleworkability in Australia: 41% of full-time and 35% of part-time jobs can be done from home
Victoria’s outbreak of COVID-19 infections, with 75 more cases identified overnight on top of 173 cases the previous five days, underlines the need to stick with social distancing measures wherever possible. Working at home, in particular.
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8th July 2020



When and How to Report Sexual Harassment at Work
When you start a new job, you’ll probably be instructed to go to Human Resources (HR) if you ever experience any sort of harassment at work — but this path hasn’t always been the most useful for employees. In fact, according to a new survey from Zenefits, one out of five workers do not trust their HR departments, and more than one-third of respondents say that they avoid going to HR for any problems at all, at least partially because they fear retaliation.
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CBA and Our Watch provide free domestic and family violence workplace resources
Commonwealth Bank has partnered with Our Watch, a national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, to provide employers across the country with access to free online resources to help support employees experiencing domestic and family violence.
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Secrets and lies and denials in Australia’s High Court
Who knew there was this tiny pocket in the High Court of Australia’s administration so bereft of accountability or due process? A lot of people, as it turns out, especially female lawyers ...
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Gartner Survey Shows CFOs Will Make More Cost Cuts in 2020
A Gartner, Inc. survey of 103 CFOs and senior finance leaders taken at the end of May, 2020* revealed that CFOs will continue to scale back spending by 4% to 11% across their selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A) functions for 2020.
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How can government lead the reskilling revolution?
COVID-19 has in many ways refocused attention on the need for digital skills and capabilities. The impact of the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, especially automation, across all sectors. While transformation creates efficiencies, it also reinforces the need to reskill large numbers of the workforce. And while globally, Australia performs well on digital literacy capabilities, a significant portion of the population still does not have access to digital services or digital literacy skills.
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Australian National University embroiled in harassment claim against New Zealand academic
The Australian National University is embroiled in a trans-Tasman dispute with Auckland University of Technology over an alleged case of sexual harassment. The case involves a senior New Zealand academic, who is accused of harassing a more junior Australian based colleague over a number of years, mostly by text.
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1 July 2020



Effecting workplace policy changes: Do I need to consult my employees?
The decision of Hastings v Toll Transport Pty Ltd (Review and Regulation) [2020] VCAT 135 (Hastings) highlights the importance of employers consulting their employees when effecting organisational change.
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One in four international students earn less than half the minimum wage
More than three-quarters of international students earn below the minimum casual wage and one in four earns less than $12 an hour – less than half the minimum casual hourly rate. A study of 5000 international students in 2019 by the University of NSW and the University of Technology Sydney has found almost two thirds (62 per cent) suffered in silence and did not try to access help or even seek information about their problems.
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When you haven’t yet found your career path
If you’ve woken up one day with the sudden realisation that you’re in the wrong job, you’re not alone. It’s remarkably easy to jump aboard a career juggernaut and hurtle down the wrong road, arriving far from where you ever hoped to be. The good news is that in today’s career landscape, the only constant is change. And it’s easier than ever before to alter your course.
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Pandemic leave extended, but unions lose bid to end changes for admin workers
The Australian Services Union has vowed to target every business that has reduced hours for administrative workers after the national industrial tribunal agreed to extend the arrangement in a win for employers.
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Record-keeping: The new normal for fair pay
As companies strive to address staff underpayment, the return to the humble timesheet could be an easy solution. But are the employees of the digital age happy to clock on again?
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72% of Australians have been sexually harassed. The system we have to fix this problem is set up to fail
We know that sexual harassment is unlawful. So why do we still keep hearing these appalling stories? Despite all the measures we have put in place, we are not fixing the problem. We are refusing to acknowledge the truth: Australia has a sexual harassment system that is set up to fail at the very thing it is intended to do – eradicate sexual harassment.
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Victoria ready to go it alone on workplace laws for the gig economy
Victoria is poised to draft its own workplace laws to protect gig economy workers, as new research finds up to a million Australians worked in the sector in the past 12 months.
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80% of labour hire firms breaking workplace laws
The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has recovered $563,680 for 1,337 employees following a major audit. The audit of 63 labour hire employers in the building sector found only 21 per cent were upholding all of their workplace payment regulations. Most employers fell short when it came to keeping proper records, providing pay slips and paying workers correctly. Wage underpayment was the largest problem, with 64 per cent short-changing workers.
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24 June 2020


Full Bench of the Federal Court confirms long term casual employment is not all it seems
In the recent decision of Workpac Pty Ltd v Rossato [2020] FCAFC 84[1] (Rossato), the Full Bench of the Federal Court of Australia (Court) confirmed that annual leave, compassionate leave and personal leave is payable to employees who have been incorrectly regarded by employers as long-term casuals. The decision has confirmed the risks of employing ‘long term’ casual employees and the consequent potential exposure to substantial historical claims.
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WorkCover sues AFP over systemic bullying and harassment
WorkCover has taken the unusual step of suing the Australian Federal Police (AFP) concerning alledged bullying of a staff member over many years by senior manager Julie Drummond. If successful, the suit could mean employers may face increased liability for injuries caused by workplace bullies if they fail to act on complaints of bullying.
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Key changes to NSW health and safety laws
On 4 June 2020, a bill to amend the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (Act) passed the NSW Parliament. The Work Health and Safety Amendment (Review) Bill 2020 (Bill) was assented to on 10 June and the changes have now commenced..
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Workplace apps update for the post-COVID office
As COVID-19 forces companies to rethink their office space and culture, workplaces apps are adapting to include new features and information.
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Working from home during coronavirus pandemic causing a spike in chiropractic injuries
Working from the kitchen table or bench during the coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on Australian necks, shoulders and backs. Chiropractors across the country began noticing an increase in work-related injuries within two weeks of the start of the lockdown.
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Employees must legally return from JobKeeper
The JobKeeper scheme has confused many employers and business owners since it was introduced, and now the confusion centres around asking employees to return to the workplace, mainly due to people’s coronavirus Health & Safety concerns.
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How To Stay Safe When You Go Back To The Office
Before you go back to your place of work, your employer must be able to ensure your safety. Here are the questions you should ask before heading back to your desk:
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Companies may think they’re safe from wage theft but they should think again
Although COVID-19 has dominated the headlines and presented far more pressing challenges to corporate Australia, it is a mistake to think that the ‘wage theft saga’ is a thing of the past.
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Landmark Victorian legislation makes wage theft punishable with 10 years' jail
Employers who dishonestly withhold wages, superannuation or other employee entitlements could be fined up to $198,264 for individuals, $991,320 for companies and be sentenced to up to 10 years' jail.
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Expanded Coverage of the Miscellaneous Modern Award
The Miscellaneous Award 2020 has historically had limited relevance for most businesses. The Award has not covered employees covered by an occupational award, or employees of employers covered by an industry award, even if those employees did not fall within one of the classifications in that industry award. From 1 July 2020 however, the scope of the Award will change following a determination of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission.
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10 June 2020



Is ageism in the workplace making a pandemic comeback?
As some return to the work – and others continue to face unemployment – we take a look at perils of age discrimination and perception of vulnerability in the post-AOVID-19 workplace.
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Labor seeks to stop 'job cuts' at Australia Post
Labor will move to overturn regulatory changes made by the Morrison government that the opposition warns are a potential precursor to job and wage cuts at Australia Post.
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How Denmark broke the mould on industrial relations
Denmark's 'flexicurity' creates 21st-century workplaces that combine free market efficiency with equity.
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Is it fair for a casual employee to have annual leave? What unions and business want from Scott Morrison
Innes Willox and Sally McManus discuss the government’s attempt to reach a consensus with unions and employers on industrial relations reform.
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COVID-19 workers compensation loophole closed for nurses, paramedics and other essential workers
Nurses, paramedics, teachers and other essential workers will no longer have to prove they were infected with COVID-19 at work to make a workers compensation claim.
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Employees beware – former employee’s social media posts prevent own claim succeeding
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has highlighted one of social media’s many pitfalls by allowing an employer to rely on a former employee’s posts to defeat a general protections application.
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Managing a health crisis from an HR perspective
As companies begin to start relocating back into the office, it is crucial that HR teams have a comprehensive plan in place that focuses on both safety and utility. Managing health and safety is paramount, and providing employees with a workplace where they feel both physically and psychologically safe will enhance the engagement and productivity of employees.
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3 June 2020



June is Workplace Giving Month
Find out why workplace giving is a win-win-win for businesses, employees and charities.
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Coronavirus means changes for your workplace — and the commute to get there
Working from home was a big adjustment for many, for others it was a huge upheaval. Now, as the prospect of returning to workplaces approaches — in some states sooner than others — other big changes are on the way. How will your workplace and commute be different? What should your boss be doing to prepare? And are they responsible if you get sick?
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Australia's industrial relations system 'needs repair not replacement'
Is the industrial relations system really a major problem? And does "industrial relations reform" offer any solution to the massive decline in jobs and work opportunities sparked by the COVID-19 crisis, or a path to greater productivity and economic recovery?
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Workplace reform is now firmly back on the table
The challenge now falls on the union movement to support lasting structural change that will drive jobs in the new post-virus world.
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Victorian employers must keep workers at home, or risk $10,000 fines
New Stay Safe Directions and Restricted Activity Directions took effect in Victoria on Monday, replacing the ‘five reasons to leave home’ with a broader directive that Victorians can leave home for any reason, subject to certain restrictions. One of these restrictions is that a person should only leave home and return to the workplace if it’s not reasonably practicable for them to work from home, or from another suitable location. For the first time, the directions also explicitly require employers to keep employees out of the workplace.
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Victoria flags gradual return to workplaces from July if control over coronavirus is maintained
Victorians may be able to go back to the office in a "staggered return" from July, if the state is able to keep control over the coronavirus pandemic, Premier Daniel Andrews has said.
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Strike a grand workplace bargain
An IR reform deal is possible if employers gain control over flexible work practices in exchange for workers gaining higher pay and more secure jobs.
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Experts predict what it’ll take to find a job in a post-COVID-19 world
Business leaders to share their inside perspective on how the COVID-19 era is transforming their industries. Here’s what’s been lost—and what could be gained—in the new world order.
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Returning to work under COVIDSafe workplace plans
Industry specific COVID-19 guidance has also now been published on the Safe Work Australia (SWA) website. In order to comply with their work health and safety obligations, employers will need to access this information and undertake risk assessments to develop their COVIDSafe Workplace Plan in preparation for employees and other workers, including clients and visitors, being able to return to the workplace. Directors and officers must also exercise due diligence regarding COVID-19 risks to comply with their obligations under the legislation.
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27 May 2020



Managing employees with mental disabilities – an important reminder for employers
The need for employers to exercise caution when managing employees with mental illness was highlighted in a recent Federal Circuit Court decision1 in which an employee’s claims that his employer took adverse action against him for having a mental health condition and complaints of bullying and harassment were dismissed.
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Workers not entitled to use paid sick leave during stand down
In a significant decision, the Federal Court has determined that Qantas Airways does not need to allow its stood down workers access to paid personal/carer’s leave or compassionate leave during the period of stand down. The decision by Justice Flick clarifies the obligations of employers and the rights of thousands of other stood down workers throughout Australia.
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Workplace reforms are ‘worth it’, says ACTU boss Sally McManus
Streamlining awards and overhauling enterprise bargaining agreements is worth it for working people, the head of Australia’s largest union says. Australian Council of Trade Unions head Sally McManus says she will be genuinely listening to employers’ groups.
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Why Scott Morrison's plan for overhauling industrial relations is not the same as Bob Hawke's Accords
Some economists have compared his idea to the "Accords" of the 1980s and 1990s — when the Hawke Labor government and the union movement agreed to a series of workplace changes that overhauled Australia's industrial landscape. But Labor says it should send a "shiver down the spine" of workers everywhere to hear the Morrison Government plans to use the recession to overhaul workplace laws.
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Despite best intentions, JobKeeper creates problems for employers and employees
JobKeeper has all the right intentions – to keep workers in employment during the COVID-19 pandemic by subsidising employers to keep them on their books. However, both employees and employers have discovered problems with JobKeeper.
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Casual approach causes major headache: WorkPac v Rossato
In a unanimous, but 272 page, judgment, the Full Court of the Federal Court has shattered what many employers had considered to be the standard position about engaging casual employees. An appeal is all but certain. However, as it stands, employers with a casual workforce face an unprecedented risk of employees claiming back-pay, and potentially penalties, for unpaid annual leave, public holidays and personal/carer’s leave entitlements. Claims may also be brought for redundancy and notice of termination.
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A “reprehensible” response to reinstate an employee and restore lost pay
If an employer is ordered to reinstate an employee who has been dismissed (and the order is not disturbed through a stay or an appeal), it is important that the employer complies with the order as soon as practicable after the order is made. In doing so, the employer should reinstate the employee to the precise position the employee held pre-dismissal, including at the same location.
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Should you do a welfare check before your workers return to the office?
The mental health of your workers will likely have been affected in various ways as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given this situation, what steps should you take to ensure a safe return to the office?
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20 May 2020



'Hot desking is dead': why workers can refuse to return to the office
Returning to the office after the coronavirus lockdown might be a welcome step back to normality for many workers, but those who worry about the potential health risks are within their rights to keep working from home, employment lawyers say.
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Corporate Australia moves warily back to the office
Easing pandemic restrictions in several states prompt some big companies to bring more workers back to the office.
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Refusing to return after lockdown: What to do if staff want to continue working from home
Over the last few weeks, employees have become accustomed to the short commute to the home office, working in their slippers, and being available to receive their online grocery deliveries during the day — and they quite like it. This may see some employers facing requests from employees to either delay their return to the workplace for as long as possible, or seek to work from home on a more permanent basis.
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Redundancy payments during the crisis
An overview of two recent cases that considered the payment of redundancy during the COVID-19 crisis.
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New stand down powers for employers under JobKeeper
A new Part 6-4C has been introduced to the Fair Work Act 2009. This temporary provision authorizes employers eligible for JobKeeper to exercise new more flexible powers to stand down employees who cannot be usefully employed for their normal days or hours because of changes to the business.
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The unintended consequences of working from home
What if we all stay working from home forever? Some might welcome a new dawn of workplace flexibility where employees, at least those in knowledge economy jobs, can work from any place, any time. Yet it doesn’t necessarily play out the way people think it will.
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Social distancing officers… does your business need one?
In the new world of work going forward, is it possible that your workplace and business will need a COVID-19 social distancing officer?
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If we want workers to stay home when sick, we need paid leave for casuals
Australians have been told they can no longer be “heroes” and go to work if they have a cold. In response, ACTU secretary Sally McManus pointed out that many workers do not have the luxury of paid sick leave and called for “paid pandemic leave”.
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22 April 2020



Labor and Greens to oppose Coalition's 'dangerous' workplace regulation changes
Proposed changes by the industrial relations minister, Christian Porter, allows employers to change workers’ deals with just 24 hours’ notice.
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Tax, workplace reforms needed to drive pandemic recovery: RBA
The Reserve Bank is insisting major reforms to tax and industrial relations need to be delivered soon by governments in a "Team Australia" style cooperative effort to help the economy recover from the once-in-a-century COVID-19 economic shock.
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Does coronavirus mean your boss can make you take a pay cut, do a different role or work more hours?
Along with JobKeeper came changes to workplace laws, temporarily giving employers more scope to change workers' duties, hours and pay.
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Workplace flexibility is vital to recovery of Australian economy
“To enable the Australian economy to successfully navigate out of the current crisis, increased workplace flexibility is essential,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said today.
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UberEats drivers not employees in landmark ruling
Uber delivery drivers are not employees entitled to minimum pay and conditions because of their freedom to choose when they work, according to a precedent ruling.
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Confidence low amongst Australian professionals as COVID-19 crisis takes hold
New data released by LinkedIn has revealed Australian professionals have little confidence in regard to their finances, workplace and overall sense of opportunity in the current COVID-19 climate.
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Employers warned over health and safety amid Covid-19 workers’ compensation claims
Dozens of Australians have lodged workers’ compensation claims related to Covid-19, prompting fresh warnings that employers must take heed of their employees’ health and safety during the pandemic. Experts say employer obligations include ensuring physical distancing and good hygiene practices at workplaces that remain open.
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Risky business: Sharp debt increases can hit worker safety, study finds
Companies that take on extra debt are more likely to cut corners and put their workers' safety at risk, an international study has found, warning governments will have to lift scrutiny of businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Will working from home continue after the pandemic?
Researchers say workplaces are unlikely to look the same after this major upheaval, even if the economy does “snap back” in the way politicians want it to. But there are warnings that working from home is not all positive.
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Australia’s “JobKeeper” Scheme Falls Short by Design
The Australian “JobKeeper” scheme will subsidize the wages of many throughout the course of this pandemic, but more than 2 million workers are set to be left out entirely. What’s more, the scheme undermines collective bargaining agreements, giving more power to employers in a shift that threatens to far outlive this crisis.
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15th April 2019



COVID-19 Information for workplaces
A wealth of advice and information from Safe Work Australia about your workplace safety responsibilities around Covid-19.
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Software underinvestment causing staff underpayments in Australia: Lawyer
Employer and regulatory underinvestment in technology that automates correct pay conditions is leading to staff underpayment, an employment lawyer has told a Senate inquiry.
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The Low Down on Stand Downs
This article reviews how stand down rights work, and viable alternatives to stand downs.
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If you contract the COVID-19 at work, are you entitled to workers compensation?
The contraction of an infectious disease in the course of the worker’s employment has been held to constitute an injury within the meaning of section 4 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW). Whether COVID-19 will be classed as a ‘personal injury’ or a ‘disease’ injury is up for discussion, however it would most likely be classified as a disease injury.
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9 common HR practices that can support domestic violence victims
There are nine commonly used practices that HR departments use to effectively support employees who are victims of domestic violence, according to recent UNSW Business School research.
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APS staff who are forced to work from office should go to HR, says Woolcott
On Tuesday APS commissioner Peter Woolcott said while “every public servant who can work, should work”, the APSC is taking employees’ health and wellbeing seriously. He reiterated that agencies have been reminded to ensure a safe working environment for those still in their usual workplaces. This is despite reports that some agencies have been reluctant to allow staff to work remotely, and ordering them to come into the office.
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Secret recordings – what employers need to know
This article debunks some of the myths surrounding secret recordings and aims to demystify the legalities.
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The perils of providing an employee reference
When an employee wants to move on and you’re asked to provide a reference, it’s not always easy to work out how honest you should be. You may be able to provide a glowing reference for a star performer with a clean record, but what should you say about a poor performer or an employee accused of misconduct? What about employees who required extensive leave for family or health reasons, or those who raised complaints? Legally and morally, where’s the line?
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Ensuring business continuity in the time of COVID-19 pandemic: data security risks
As Governments implement severe measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are increasingly reliant on remote Internet-connected workforces in order to ensure business continuity. With this shift to remote working, comes heightened data sensitivity risks, including an increase in the likelihood of cyber attacks and privacy breaches. Businesses must be vigilant of this heightened risk environment. Despite the extraordinary environment in which we find ourselves, data security and privacy obligations continue to apply.
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11th March 2019



COVID-19 – is it business as usual?
With the coronavirus outbreak being declared a “public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), employers must take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of their staff and others at their workplace. But what does this mean, and what steps should you be taking to minimise the risk of injury from COVID-19?
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Coronavirus quarantine raises questions about annual leave and workers' rights
NSW is facing a major industrial relations headache amid the spread of coronavirus, after some State Government employees were told quarantine periods would come out of their annual leave.
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Unions tied to super create conflict of interest, industry body warns
A financial services industry association has hinted unions may have a vested interest in their involvement in choosing the default superannuation fund in company enterprise agreements.
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Porter weighs legislation to address casual 'double-dipping', extra sick leave
Attorney-General Christian Porter says he'll consider legislating to stop so-called "double-dipping" by casual employees and extra sick leave for shift workers if two court decisions don't go the government's way.
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Coronavirus outbreak leaves employers facing reality of how to manage a COVID-19 shutdown
Many employers have questions about who will pay casual workers who are forced to self-isolate and under what circumstances they might close their business.
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The steely women who launched a historic fight over the equal right to work — and won
The story of a small group of women fighting for the right to work alongside the men at BHP's Port Kembla steelworks.
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All in a day’s work – vicarious liability for employee’s harassment
The concept of what occurs “in the course of, or arising out of” employment is frequently contested when it comes to workers’ compensation claims and allegations of negligence.
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Bullying Claims and Disciplinary Processes
Employees sometimes have a very broad view of what might be considered to be bullying behaviour. Bullying as defined in the Fair Work Act consists of repeated behaviour causing a risk to the safety of someone in a workplace. This is a very broad concept, but it does not cover just anything which the employee does not like. One area in which this issue can come up is an application by an employee for anti-bullying orders relating to a disciplinary process.
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Digital clock in, clock off systems present significant data collection issues for employers
Employers have managed employees for many years relying on the employee records exemption contained in the Privacy Act. However, in the recent case of Lee v Superior Wood [2019] FWCFB 2946, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) turned the common understanding of the employee records exemption on its head.
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4th February 2020



You told us how a coronavirus outbreak could affect your job
Already, workplaces are making plans for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak in Australia, given the worst-case scenario would require people to work from home. But for many careers, working from home simply wouldn't be an option, and for some of you, the thought of losing income as a result of the coronavirus crisis isn't a comfortable one.
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How to make your staff feel valued, whether they work four or 40 hours a week
All workers should continuously feel the values of the businesses they work for — whether they work four or 40 hours a week. Simply feeling like a valuable part of the team can have a significant impact on workplace culture, and, ultimately, the employer’s business performance. There are some easy steps that Aussie businesses can take to keep workplace culture positive and morale high.
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‘Reputation is driven by culture, not just by marketing’: Meet AHRI’s new CEO Sarah McCann-Bartlett
How do you lead a profession that’s at the core of how we work, into a new decade? Sarah McCann-Bartlett has some ideas as the new CEO of the Australian Human Resources Institute. She sits down to talk the future with Women’s Agenda.
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Take employee wellbeing seriously or watch your business suffer
Employee wellness in the workplace is quickly rising to the top of company agendas worldwide as it directly relates to employee productivity, retention rates and losses occurred in the business. The levels of stress that employees are dealing with today are higher than ever and one of the most common causes of employee stress is financial.
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The 'elephant in the room' for executive women
While working with senior female leaders, executive coach Jane Porter began noticing “an elephant in the room”. Porter, the head of education at leadership development group IECL by GrowthOps Australia, saw executive women struggling with the symptoms of menopause.
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Overpayment as common as 'wage theft'
Workers have been overpaid in almost 70 per cent of businesses assessed by a major payroll association and most have not been asked to give the money back.
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Harvey Weinstein verdict brings energy to Australia's unfinished #MeToo movement
With the world watching on, an "untouchable" man was handed a sentence that could see him spend years behind bars, far from the glitz of the Hollywood halls he once ruled.
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Aussie firm's 'no-work Wednesday' concept goes global
Digital agency Versa shuts its doors every Wednesday. Employees at the busy maker of apps, augmented reality products and websites work 37.5 hours a week over four days in a radical 20-month experiment that has seen profit and productivity soar.
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19th February 2020



Managing coronavirus (but not the kind you get after a big weekend)
The media is in a frenzy about the coronavirus which has hit our shores. Despite reassurance from health authorities that it's not yet a pandemic, employers shouldn't forget they are required to have a safe system of work in place.
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VIC - Compliance and enforcement officers are visiting labour hire providers and hosts
The Labour Hire Authority’s compliance and enforcement officers have started the year by visiting labour hire providers and hosts across Victoria. The officers are educating hosts and providers about their obligations and monitoring compliance with the labour hire licensing scheme.
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Underpaid workers remain out of pocket months after employers apologise
A growing list of companies have admitted to underpaying workers, turning themselves in to the Fair Work Ombudsman and issuing mea culpas in the media, but it can be months or years before employees see any of the cash they are owed.
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Target reveals $9 million in staff underpayments in latest wage theft scandal at Wesfarmers
Target has become the latest large Australian company to become embroiled in a wage theft scandal in recent days, today disclosing $9 million in underpayment remediation charges. Repeat offender Wesfarmers, the Perth-based conglomerate that owns the department store chain, came clean on Wednesday morning, disclosing the underpayments in its half-yearly accounts without immediately revealing how many workers had been underpaid, or for how long.
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Coles underpaid workers by $20m over six years
Revelation comes as federal government considers barring bosses who have underpaid workers from being directors.
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Federal Govt wants industrial relations out of super
The Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology, Senator Jane Hume said that while payment of superannuation savings was just as much a workplace entitlement, as the payment of wages, choice of superannuation fund should not be dictated by a person’s workplace.
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Staff-led campaign sees tech company announce paid family violence leave
SAP has announced a new policy for Australian and NZ employees affected by family and domestic violence, following a staff-led initiative including by employees affected by such violence.
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Court punishes AWU for ‘unlawful’ action against members
The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured an $18,000 penalty in the Federal Court against AWU after two employees of Melbourne-based manufacturing plant Orica Australia were charged for refusing to participate in industrial action.
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What does the future hold? – the changing landscape for employers in Australia
Changes to the industrial relations system are looming, with the Prime Minister asking the Attorney-General in his capacity as Minister for Industrial Relations to look at the system and the Minister releasing two discussion papers seeking input about the operation of certain parts of the system. The closing date for submissions is 3 April 2020..
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FWC endorses approach to dismiss injured employee
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has endorsed the approach taken by an HR Department to dismiss an employee who could not perform the inherent requirements of her role..
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13 Nov 2019



Probationary problems: Dismissing an employee on their probation period
Some employers proceed under the misapprehension that they can terminate an employee on probation without providing any reason for the dismissal, with the employee unable to pursue any legal claim against them. The recent decision of Pacheco-Hernandez v Duty Free Stores Gold Coast Pty Ltd (No. 2) [2019] FCCA 1295 has shown this is incorrect.
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Can I stop an employee taking annual leave?
It should go without saying that employees should apply for leave and have it approved by their employer before booking any flights, accommodation, tours or activities. But what happens if an employee applies for leave after they’ve booked, or disregard your leave rejection and take time off anyway? Businesses have policies outlining what an employee needs to do before they take that overseas trip, have a day off for some RnR, or can also specify periods where leave will not be granted, such as Christmas and around the New Year.
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Company and its directors charged with industrial manslaughter and reckless conduct in Queensland first
Brisbane Auto Recycling is accused of negligently causing the death of a worker by failing to separate a mobile plant from pedestrians, after a man was hit and killed by a reversing forklift at a wrecking yard in Rocklea earlier in May this year. Under section 34C, the PCBU could be fined up to $10 million. Directors Asadullah Hussaini and Mohammad Ali Jan Karimi could also be fined up to $600,000 each, or jailed for up to five years, if convicted of reckless conduct – category 1 under section 31 of the Act.
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Do you rely on annualised salary arrangements, off-set clauses or over award payments to pay your employees?
Employers’ should be aware of the upcoming changes to the annualised salary arrangements which will take effect from the 1 March 2020 and affect multiple industries. This piece covers the key changes, off-set clauses and common law contracts.
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Redundancy and job insecurity are growing and it's a problem for the economy at large
Many Australians have been painfully aware for some time now that the idea of a "job for life", and the security that comes with that, has long gone. But now career counsellors are warning that anxiety resulting from widespread job insecurity is reaching alarming levels and it has the potential to further harm the economy.
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'Manifestly unfair': Opera Australia sacks singer over social media posts
Opera Australia has sacked one of its singers after it found her claim that her ex-husband impersonated her on social media to make abusive posts was "implausible". Vanessa Lewis, a member of OA’s chorus since 1995, said she will consider legal action against the national opera company after it terminated her employment on October 30 over allegations of misconduct..
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Playing the ‘complexity’ card: Why corporates can’t blame awards for wage theft
Is Australia’s award system so complex that major corporations capable of handling millions of customers and billions of dollars can’t manage to pay employees properly?.
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Age discrimination backfiring on employers
Despite being illegal, it seems that many employers are still discriminating against workers based on their age. And they are doing so to their own detriment, it has been suggested.
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‘The way we’re working, isn’t working’: Dropbox
Would you trial four-hour work days, beach-side remote offices and job swapping to boost productivity? Dropbox Australia tested these and more, and now wants other workplaces to do the same..
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Are you missing your most vital step in managing a bullying complaint?
Employers are commonly told that a key, if not the first, response to a bullying complaint is to implement an investigation. While I agree an investigation, formal or informal, is essential, there is a vital first step required for risk management. That is ensuring your employee is kept safe from mental health injury and further harm with appropriate workplace support. If you don’t, you may be placing your employee at greater risk of psychological injury and breaching your health and safety obligations.
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23 Oct 2019



Change the rules? It's about time
Respectable companies caught underpaying their staff says more about an over-complex workplace system than avarice. If Wesfarmers has underpaid its employees by some $15 million, it is now very obvious the workplace relations system is too complicated.
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Sunglass Hut to back-pay 620 workers
Sunglass Hut will back-pay $2.3 million to employees after breaching Australia’s workplace laws and underpaying 620 staff at stores across the country.
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Time Running Out To Apply For Labour Hire Licences
From 30 October 2019, only labour hire providers who are licensed or are awaiting an application decision will be allowed to operate in Victoria. This is courtesy of Victoria’s first ever Labour Hire Licensing Scheme, which is about protecting vulnerable workers while cracking down on dodgy operators that seek to profit from denying workers minimum pay rates and conditions.
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IR reforms crucial to kick-start the economy: Ombudsman
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says the government’s concerns about Australia’s overly complex industrial relations system are shared by the nation’s small business community.
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Ninety per cent of organisations say employee legislation and awards are confusing or contradictory
New research from Australia’s leading network in payroll training, consultancy and advisory has found that more than nine in 10 organisations find government legislation or employee awards difficult to interpret, with most agreeing that many of these clauses need to be revised or made simpler.
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Government seeks to restore clarity to personal leave entitlements
The Morrison Government will seek leave, in the High Court, to appeal a recent Full Federal Court decision, which has sparked confusion and uncertainty around the way sick and carers leave entitlements should be calculated.
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Employee not entitled to demand flexible work arrangements
The Fair Work Commission has confirmed that whilst an employee with caring responsibilities is entitled to request a flexible working arrangement, an employee is not entitled to demand such a flexible work arrangement even in the most difficult of personal circumstances.
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“Poisonous employee” wins claim of adverse action
This recent Federal Circuit Court decision reminds us of the need for employers to ensure that redundancies are implemented on the basis of genuine operational reasons.

A decision to terminate an employee’s employment or disestablish an employee’s position where there is a lack of evidence around the operational reasons for the decision is likely to be challenged, particularly where an employee has made a complaint or inquiry in relation to their employment.
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Submissions invited on wage theft criminalisation
The Morrison Government is committed to introducing strong and effective criminal sanctions to help stamp out deliberate and systematic wage theft by Australian employers.

Work on legislation is already underway but before a draft Bill is finalised, community feedback is being sought to help inform the development of a new offence and penalty regime, which must include significant jail terms and fines for the most serious offences.
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2 October 2019



City of Sydney wins national HR award
The City of Sydney has been recognised for being an employer of choice for women, winning a national human resources award..
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Psychometric testing is widely used in job recruitment — so it's worth learning how it works
You're qualified. Your CV sings. You interview well. You've got this. Then comes the psychometric test — a series of questions or statements designed to measure your personality characteristics or cognitive abilities.
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Are employers required to pay redundancy if the job is no longer required as a result of the “ordinary and customary turnover of labour”?
When an employer terminates an employee’s contract of employment, they are required to pay an amount for redundancy based on the employee’s years of continuous service. If an employer terminates an employee’s employment, how much redundancy are they obligated to pay and what exceptions might there be to paying redundancy?.
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Can employers legally collect and store employees’ sensitive data?
Ever wondered if your employer is storing your personal data and information? A recent decision by the Fair Work Commission Full Bench has analysed closely whether employers can legally collect and store their employees’ data..
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LinkedIn Connections – Who do They Belong to?
There are a wide range of factors that both employers and employees must take into consideration when ending an employment relationship. Whilst many points on the "end-of-employment checklist" are simple to action and take place without issue, one increasingly common point of contention is the question of what happens to the LinkedIn connections formed by an employee in the course of their employment.
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Are employee claims always crystal clear? If not…what do you do?
When an employee makes a claim against their employer, you should know exactly what the claim is, the evidence they intend to rely on and the remedy or outcome they seek. However, what happens if all these things aren’t clear? How are you supposed to put your best case forward?.
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Expert business guide to the gig economy and the casualisation of the workforce
DESCRIPTIONWith the gig economy increasingly affecting how businesses operate, in particular with regards to how they procure and deliver labour, the key issues for employers are put under the microscope.
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25th Sept 2019



Superannuation guarantee amnesty introduced … again! And this time with a sting in the tail
On 24 May 2018, the Government first introduced a 12-month superannuation guarantee amnesty. The relevant Bill failed to pass the Senate and then lapsed when the federal election was called on 11 April 2019. On 18 September 2019, the Bill was re-introduced, with an amnesty period beginning on 24 May 2018 and ending six months after the legislation receives Royal Assent. The amnesty is being offered as a last chance for employers. In this version of the amnesty, if a taxpayer doesn’t take advantage of the amnesty in relation to historical shortfalls, they will be subject to a penalty of up to 200%. And the Commissioner will lose the power to remit that penalty below 100% for historical quarters.
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When the whistle blows
When a whistleblower complaint is lodged it sets into motion a chain of events and procedures that, if followed correctly, will expose the truth – or falsehood – of the allegation.
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5 Tips for Drafting Position Descriptions
The day to day priorities of management and HR professionals can sometimes leave position descriptions as an afterthought. However, when drafted properly, position descriptions can be an invaluable tool for both employers and employees.
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Service Not Required to trgger an entitlement to leave and the importance of the fine print
The case of CFMMEU v North Wambo Pty Ltd t/as Peabody Energy Australia [2019] FWC 7732 has again raised the often confusing issue of leave accrual in the case of absence through injury..
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Nearly a quarter of firms using temp staff at a senior level
More than one in five, or 22%, of organisations in Australia have employed temporary or contract staff at a senior level over the past year, with another 6% using executive or c-suite candidates for short-term needs, according to data from Hays..
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Remote employment advocate crowned Rural Woman of the Year
Wagga Wagga’s Jo Palmer created Pointer Remote Roles, a platform designed to help people get into work, regardless of where they live. Ms Palmer told Macquarie’s Rural Reporter Eddie Summerfield, it was hard to believe she was named the rural woman of year.
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Baby Boomers less threatened by rapidly evolving technology in the workplace than younger generations
Research commissioned by technology leader Genesys, aimed at improving the understanding of attitudes towards artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, revealed older generations are significantly more positive towards AI technology in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). This suggests they are considerably more comfortable with the implementation of modern workforce tools as opposed to younger respondents.
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18 Sept 2019



Employee claimants can face cross claims from employers
In a recent trend, employers are successfully filing cross claims against employees after the employee has commenced claims against the employer. Two recent Federal cases highlight that employers need to issue cross claims in a timely manner, and that employees need to be aware of the significant financial risks that they could be exposed to if their employer pursues a cross claim against them.
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FWC Prosecution for underpayment and falsifying records
The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operator of a Coffee Club outlet in Victoria, alleging they underpaid two young workers a total of more than $15,000 and provided false records to inspectors. Facing the Federal Circuit Court are Edison Peng and his company JMSL Pty Ltd, which owns and operates the Coffee Club franchise outlet at the Westfield Geelong shopping centre.
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Parental Leave — Important Responsibilities As An Employer
An employee has requested to work on a part-time basis on return from parental leave. Or a workplace change has resulted in an employee’s position being removed while they are on parental leave. As an employer, what are your obligations? This article outlines the key obligations an employer has while an employee is on, and when they return from, parental leave.
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Personal/carers leave - how it should be calculated - latest developments
Employers should, at the very least, keep a watching brief on this significant case. If this case stands then employers may need to revisit how their payroll function accrues for personal leave for shiftworkers to ensure those employees are not short changed. It also, of course, raises the spectre of backpay for employees who did not receive payment for personal/carer's leave in circumstances where they were entitled to it in accordance with the decision.
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Thales signs court-enforceable undertaking
A major manufacturing company has back-paid workers more than $7 million in wages, superannuation and interest, after entering into a Court-Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman. Fair Work Inspectors investigated Thales Australia Limited (Thales) after the company self-disclosed last year that it had paid annual salaries below what employees were entitled to under the applicable enterprise agreements.
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'Massive fail': Bank teller with arthritis fights a big bank and wins
The ANZ has failed in its bid to force a bank teller with arthritis to move to another branch after working in Hoppers Crossing, in Melbourne's western suburbs, for more than 20 years.
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Victims To Have Their Say On Wage Theft
The Andrews Labor Government is calling for victims of wage theft to have their say about new wage theft offences at the first of a series of wage theft forums in Northcote. The Labor Government is holding forums across Victoria and will consult a range of employer groups and unions to ensure the new laws are fair. The forums will be led by Member for Ringwood Dustin Halse.
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Bakers Delight suffers setback in pay agreement with staff
Bakers Delight's application to terminate a pay agreement with employees was rejected because its human resources manager could not be contacted by the Fair Work Commission.
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Taxpayers may foot $1 billion bill for casual workers' back pay
Taxpayers may have to foot the bill for as much as $1 billion worth of casual worker backpay claims, employers warn, as Labor digs in over its bid to remove a regulation aimed at stopping workers from "double dipping" on casual loadings and the entitlements they are supposed to cover.
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CFMEU organisers plead guilty over drug charges
Two construction union organisers have pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession and dealing following a cocaine bust in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Master Builders Association chief executive Denita Wawn said the case "bells the cat" on the CFMEU's hypocrisy. "It’s astounding that despite these charges, the three officials concerned retain expansive rights to enter workplaces and prosecute small businesses," she said.
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11 Sept 2019



No soft landing for returning expats
New research confirms the widely held view that Australian companies are locking out workers returning from overseas.
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Women going backwards at the top of corporate Australia
Gender equality among Australia's top chief executive ranks could be 80 years away, with the latest survey showing female appointments are going backwards and some companies have no women at all in their leadership teams.
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Why don't more dads take parental leave? The answer is in their heads
Men don't — in the main — take parental leave beyond the two-week cigar break that the Australian culture views as permissible. There isn't an awful lot of research in Australia into why this is so. But a survey in 2017 conducted by recruitment agency Hays gives a good indication of the sticking points.
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Privilege is the hidden ingredient for success that we don't talk about enough
The business world's most celebrated success stories all seem to have an opinion on what it takes to reach your goals and dreams. They'll tell you that all you need to do is work hard, fail often, learn from you mistakes, focus on your passion and persist until you reach your goals.
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Think Domestic Violence Has Nothing to do with You as an Employer? Think Again!
“It’s terrible that you’re experiencing domestic violence but what’s it got to do with me? I’m just your employer.” Well, actually, quite a bit, in terms of both general employee entitlements and individual cases.
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What do Employers need to Consider when Terminating Someone on a Visa?
There’s no surprise why companies want to sponsor migrants; their global skills enhance the business’ competitiveness by offering something unique and the company’s culture is enriched with diversity. What happens though when it’s time to call quits on your employment relationship with a visa holder?
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Employer liable for intentional harm by employee – Ward v Allianz Australia Insurance Services [2019] NSWDC 293
In this New South Wales District Court decision, an employer was found liable for the deliberate actions of a manager who verbally and physically bullied the plaintiff over a period of 14 months.
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Underemployment and overemployment problems leave few workers satisfied
Underemployment and overemployment at the same time? It is happening, and it could be keeping you from a wage rise.
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Labor MP wants new approach to employment
New Labor MP Libby Coker used her first speech to parliament to advocate for specific industry plans to ease technological transitions, while investing in research and start-ups. She also floated the idea of a jobs guarantee program, with non-government organisations, local government and the public sector to help train people needing work.
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Say your prayers: what employment law tells us about the Folau case
Forget the media furore, discourse on freedom of religion, widespread public debate and shock jocks’ monologues. The battle between Israel Folau, Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW is a legal one. That battle will be played out between the goalposts set by Australian employment law. The current state of employment law in this country looks like it will produce a far clearer outcome than some would have you believe.
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3 September 2019



The business impact of proposed religious discrimination laws
Employers are urged to be mindful of proposed legislation put forward which aims to target religious discrimination in the workplace.
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‘Give us more training’, say payroll managers
The people in charge of ensuring employees are paid correctly and on time are reporting significant training shortfalls, according to the industry association — and most are unable to rely on government agencies to answer their resulting questions.
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Don't mention the R word! Strategies for older workers' third acts.
The global population aged 60 years or over numbered 962 million in 2017, and is expected to double by 2050 to nearly 2.1 billion, according to the United Nations. Perhaps driven by the sheer force of baby boomer numbers and influence, societal attitudes towards older workers are becoming more positive, and that’s something older workers can use to give them ammunition and confidence.
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These figures show just how much working life has changed for women
The good news is policies to make work more flexible are keeping women working, however they still face the struggles that come with going part-time
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Buy now, pay later: AI and the ‘red-light risk' for millions of Australian jobs
Supermarkets are among the businesses forging ahead with new technology, and observers warn that cutting jobs is a prime motive
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'Nothing to show': how Australia's gender pay gap is harming older women
Figures released on Thursday show the national gender pay gap remains stable at 14% and the gap between full-time average weekly earnings for men and women was $241.50 per week.
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Be a Safety Champion!
October is National Safe Work Month. This year’s theme demonstrates that anyone, both employers and workers from any occupation or industry can be a champion for work health and safety. Everyone can support a safety culture at their workplace and promote best practice work health and safety initiatives.
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Flexible working, the neglected congestion-busting solution for our cities
One obvious solution to traffic congestion, caused mostly by workers commuting to jobs in the city centre during peak hours, might appear to be building more, or bigger, roads. But a less-obvious answer, and potentially a more cost-effective one, might be to increase flexible working arrangements.
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28 August 2019



No respect: STEM jobs 'spit women out'
Some two-thirds of women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers say their views or voices are devalued because of their gender, while 40 per cent have borne the brunt of sexist jokes or offensive comments, a survey has found.
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“Not doing this would be silly”: ING ditches ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ labels and adopts equal paid parental leave
Australian bank ING has made an important leap on paid parental leave equality, becoming the first bank in the country to give both parents equal access to 14 weeks’ paid leave, removing ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ labels in the process. “We are a contemporary, modern employer trying to attract people to work for us. Not doing this would be silly,” ING’s head of retail banking Melanie Evans told a forum while announcing the launch in Sydney.
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WA to introduce industrial manslaughter penalty into WHS law
The McGowan Government will introduce a new Work Health and Safety Bill that will modernise workplace safety laws, better protect workers and hold those responsible for any workplace deaths. One of the main features of the legislation is the introduction of two new offences of industrial manslaughter
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Sick leave win for Cadbury shift workers could flow on across Australian workplaces
Two Tasmanian Cadbury workers have won a Federal Court case brought by the chocolate maker's parent company Mondelez over their sick leave entitlements, in a determination that is expected to have ramifications across Australia.
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Lion bans salary questions for job applicants
Lion Co has become one of the first companies to ban questions to job candidates about their salary history in an effort to tackle the gender pay gap. The brewer, which owns brands Boags, James Squire and Hahn, announced on Monday that it had scrubbed salary questions from its job applications and officially banned them from interviews after finding they perpetuated lower salaries for women.
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Industrial relations overhaul could hurt unions and workers
Australian workers could be caught in the crosshairs of the country’s biggest industrial relations shakeup in over two decades, according to the Labor Party and union insiders.
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Paid parental leave for dads a key to narrowing gender pay gap
Asdís Arnalds, from the faculty of social work at the University of Iceland, will give the keynote address at the Australian National University on Thursday about how her country has doubled the proportion of fathers who take paternity leave from 40 per cent to 80 per cent since it was extended from six months to nine months.
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What Gender Pay Gap? Big little lies?
Is the Gender Pay Gap a myth? Is it really 'a thing'? Don't we all know plenty of women who are paid the same as men? Welcome to Equal Pay Day! A day to unpack the myth from the muddle and nonsense. Yes, the Gender Pay Gap is indeed 'a thing'. Today marks the additional 59 days women have to work from the end of the last financial year to earn the same amount as men.
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Why Women Quit
One of the biggest conversations in the business world here in 2019, smack in the middle of a time characterized by misogynist mobs, the rollback of reproductive rights, and #MeToo, is why the hell women don’t occupy more leadership positions in business.
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On the brink of privacy class actions in Australia
This article provides a snapshot of the class actions and legal regime in Australia with respect to privacy breaches, and to provide predictions about the future landscape in anticipation of the pending decision from the Australian Information Commissioner. It concludes with a list of measures your organisation can take to prepare.
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Biometric scanning in the workplace: Can employees refuse consent?
Technology enabling facial, fingerprint and iris scans offers employers an efficient and accurate means to secure their workplaces, monitor and record their employees’ time and attendance. Yet there are serious privacy concerns when it comes to biometric technology. Once you collect the data it is vulnerable to be misused or hacked. You can change passwords, but you can’t change your fingerprint or iris scan.
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21 August 2019

Eight reasons why introverts make great leaders
Susan Cain’s TED talk and book Quiet: The Power of Introverts brought to light the amazing qualities of introverts.
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ICAC report reveals culture of bullying and sexual harassment in South Australian public service
The ICAC Public Integrity Survey has uncovered widespread allegations of "toxic" workplace cultures within the public service where staff were "too scared to report" misconduct and corruption for fear of losing their jobs.
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'Lunch in their cars': Workers battle stress and trauma in their jobs
Almost half of 25,000 working people say they have experienced trauma or distressing situations at work, a survey has found. And just under a third (31 per cent) said they had experienced violence after being abused, threatened or assaulted by clients, customers or co-workers.
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Hydro Tasmania wins national mental health award
Expanding its workplace health program to put a greater focus on mental health has netted Hydro Tasmania a national award. Hydro Tasmania won the Workplace Life Award for its A New Mindset program at the 2019 National Suicide Prevention Australia Conference.
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How to get your boss to say 'yes' to a flexible working arrangement
Sally Henderson is a career Mum with 3 kids who wants her boss to say yes to a flexible work arrangement. But despite more Australian employers offering flexible work conditions as a way to help employees achieve work life balance, Sally’s boss, at an undisclosed Sydney Council, isn’t on board.
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There is no correlation between age and value, but ageism is always a sign of stupidity
The notion that age is a realistic predictor of skills, relevance, wisdom and value is rubbish. It is not, nor will ever be, the total determinant of connectivity, smarts and success. There are just so many other components to throw in and mix in the evaluation pot.
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Researchers seek to identify optimal workplace design
Plans have been unveiled by the Association of Australasian Acoustical Consultants to crowdfund a research project that will explore how best to design workplaces for optimal productivity and employee performance.
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Not-for-profit organisations to be bound by Whistleblower Protection Regime
From 1 July 2019, any not-for-profit organisations operating as a trading or financial corporation are required to comply with the new whistleblower protection regime under Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). Organisations should assess whether they meet the definition of ‘trading or financial corporation’. ‘Trading’ in this sense refers to the sale of goods or services, while ‘financial’ relates to borrowing, lending, investing or providing advice on financial matters.
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Can a meeting to discuss carer’s leave be administrative action?
Key Points: The Federal Court was asked to consider the meaning of the phrase “administrative action”. The Federal Court found in favour of the employee and decided that he was entitled to compensation in respect to his adjustment disorder with anxious mood.
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No diagnosis? No worries: Tribunal accepts claim for symptoms
The absence of a concrete medical diagnosis will not be a barrier to making a successful claim. Further, an aggravation of symptoms may be enough to establish that an employee has suffered an injury or disease for the purposes of the SRC Act.
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Everything you need to know about giving a formal warning
So, when should you issue a warning, and how do you put it into writing? We asked experts in workplace law and HR to share their best practice tips on formal written warnings.
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14 August 2019

Federal Government urged to axe 'better off overall' test to streamline EBA process
Enterprise bargaining agreements have become "Downton Abbey-sized laundry lists" and need to be "unscrambled" to lift productivity and wages growth, the Business Council of Australia says.
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“WorkChoices 2.0”: Furor as Coalition backbenchers call for SME unfair dismissal exemption
Opposition Industrial Relations Spokesperson Tony Burke has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to rule out changes which would “make it easier for bosses to sack people” after reports emerged Coalition backbenchers are pushing to exempt SMEs from unfair dismissal laws.
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Liberal senator says employers must be able to sack workers who are not 'the right fit'
Labor and unions have hit back at calls by a Liberal senator for employers to be able to sack workers if they are not “the right fit”, arguing the Coalition is preparing to gut unfair dismissal laws.
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Deeds of Release and their effectiveness – update 2019
This arti­cle looks at fac­tors which may impact upon the cer­tain­ty and dura­bil­i­ty of deeds of release and also the extent if any, to which a deed of release entered into in the employ­ment set­ting, oper­ates to min­imise or pre­clude the inter­ven­tion of the Fair Work Ombudsman in exer­cis­ing its func­tions under the Fair Work Act.
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RBA fail: Migrant visa boom crushing Australian wages
Entire industries have become heavily reliant on migrant workers to perform low-skilled work in the labour market for below award rates, which is unambiguously undercutting local workers and lowering overall wage growth. If anything, the rise of female and elderly participation is a response to the failing wages growth arising from the mass immigration model as it destroys industrial relations, leaving households no choice but to work harder and longer.
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Dismissal by SMS, not OK - FWC
Terminating an employee’s employment can be a confronting situation. It is difficult news to deliver and is often fuelled with emotion. For those reasons, many managers and employers attempt to avoid conflict or confrontation by delivering the news in a way that doesn’t involve a face to face meeting, such as in email or text message. In two recent decisions, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has warned against such an approach and has heavily criticised two separate employers who dismissed employees via text message.
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Cyber Restraints Of Trade In The New Era Of Digital Markets
An enforceable restraint of trade can be a key business asset, giving an employer time to recover when a senior employee has left the business for a competitor. Like a good insurance policy, it’s a big relief to have it when you need it.
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A civil, civil service – restraint and moderation in the Australian Public Service
The High Court of Australia's decision in Comcare v Banerji clarifies the extent to which a public sector employer can restrict their employees' ability to freely and publicly express their political views. This alert considers the possible implications for public and private sector employers.
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Keep­ing the High Court deci­sion in Com­care v Baner­ji in perspective
There has been some com­men­tary that this case will have wide­spread reper­cus­sions for free­dom of speech for all employ­ees, includ­ing those in the pri­vate sec­tor.
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Fair Work Act general protections for a corporate whistleblower?
The general protections scheme under Part 3-1 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) protects employees from adverse action taken against them by their employer because they have or exercise a workplace right. One of the protected ‘workplace rights’ is that in s 341(1)(c)(ii) – the ability of an employee to make a complaint in relation to their employment. This has founded a substantial proportion of general protections claims.
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Outside hours conduct of teacher justifies instant dismissal
This decision confirms the legal position established in several other cases that schools can take into account teachers' out-of-hours behaviours when making decisions in relation to their ongoing employment.
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7 Aug 2019

Law firms pay price for poor HR record
Almost all large and mid-sized law firms have an in-house human resources (HR) team to handle recruitment, development, reward and other people issues. A high-performing trusted HR team is essential in winning the war for top talent. Unfortunately, many firms are shooting themselves in the foot by having poor relationships in and around HR. At its extreme, it goes something like this…
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Does Australia have a 'job snob' problem?
With some in the Australian Government's own ranks arguing for a lift in the unemployment benefit, senior ministers appear to be upping the rhetoric about joblessness being a matter of choice for many.
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Unfair dismissal rules failing core objectives: Ombudsman
A formal review of Australia’s Small Business Fair Dismissal Code has recommended sweeping changes to simplify the rules, finding that the current law “is not delivering what was intended”.
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Did you cheer for Israel Folau's sacking? Sorry, but you can't have it both ways
Under the Fair Work Act, it is illegal to sack an employee by reason of the employee's religion. There is scant case law about what this protection means.
Folau's is a test case in which the court will need to determine whether the word "religion" should be interpreted to include protection for an employee's religious expression and activities. If the court finds in Folau's favour, the furious debate about Folau's contract will have been for nought. Employment contracts and codes of conduct can't subvert anti-discrimination laws.
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A quarter of young people working multiple jobs
Startling new figures from the ABS show that one in four Australians under the age of 30 are having to work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. But which state or territory has the highest incidence of people employed in multiple roles simultaneously?
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Seven workplace hazards commonly overlooked by employers
Employers are required by law to provide a safe, risk-free work environment for all employees. This will include assessing and monitoring the workplace for risks, and listening to and consulting all workers.
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Fact Sheet On Legal Protections For Mature Workers
The ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) has released a fact sheet on legal protections for mature workers in Australia, outlining the national and state laws protecting them from discrimination and upholding their right to seek flexible work arrangements. It also addresses the way workplace health and safety laws can be uniquely relevant to older Australians.
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Public servant loses free speech High Court case over tweets criticising government policies
Michaela Banerji argued she had been unlawfully fired in 2013, from what was then the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
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Shocking yet not surprising: wage theft has become a culturally accepted part of business
Many Australians are shocked by celebrity chef George Calombaris being caught for underpaying employees A$7.8 million. But what should not be a surprise is the prevalence in Australia of wage theft – typically underpaying award rates and entitlements such as overtime, superannuation and penalty rates.
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31 July 2019

Why data is the key to Finance/HR collaboration
Digital transformation offers an important opportunity for CFOs and CHROs to work closely together to drive business performance. But translating a talent strategy into a business strategy requires both parties to have access to the same data. How can both teams get a consistent, 360-degree view of metrics and a cohesive set of analytics to make data-based decisions?
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NAB appoints Group Chief People Officer
National Australia Bank has announced the appointment of Susan Ferrier as Group Chief People Officer. Ms Ferrier has extensive experience as a Chief People Officer and in other senior executive human resources roles, working in Australia and overseas for multi-jurisdictional businesses.
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Sexual harassment— award of aggravated damages
In a recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court, Hill v Hughes t/a Beesley and Hughes Lawyers, the Court awarded $170,000 in damages to Ms Hill, a paralegal, who suffered a relentless barrage of sexual harassment by her employer.
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Australia's international reputation 'at risk' over treatment of visa workers
Narendra Shetty was set to open his first restaurant in Mumbai when the opportunity to sharpen his culinary skills through an internship in Australia seemed too good to refuse.
"Australia is known for culinary things," he said. "I came here ... to improve ... to learn more about [cooking] seafood, steaks, pastries, basic cutting skills and appetisers".
Mr Shetty, who signed a contract with Australian Internships to work at the Escarpment Group of hotels in the Blue Mountains, including the Hydro Majestic and Lilianfels, now faces the potential risk of deportation after he allegedly complained about his fixed salary and being asked to pay above-market rent.
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Wage theft or honest mistake? Small business hits back
Small business owners fear the Morrison government's plan to criminalise wage theft may unfairly target those who make "honest mistakes" and are demanding changes to the award system to make it easier for them to pay workers correctly.
Australia's industrial relations umpire Iain Ross says he understands the concerns, agreeing the system could be difficult to navigate.
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Employers could face jail over wage theft under new laws
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put employers on notice that those who exploit workers may soon face criminal penalties, after a company whose directors include celebrity chef George Calombaris was fined for underpaying staff $7.8 million. "Right now, the Attorney-General is drafting laws to deal with criminalising worker exploitation," Mr Morrison confirmed during parliamentary question time on Wednesday.
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Prime Minister ups pressure on Labor over union reforms
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sharpened his attacks on Labor over new laws which would ban militant union officials who serially break the law. Mr Morrison took aim at Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in a speech in Perth on Saturday afternoon, saying his actions don't match his words on "thuggish" union behaviour.
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ACTU lobbies crossbenchers to oppose Coalition's 'unfair' union-busting bill
ACTU president Michele O’Neil says laws will make it possible for government ministers and disgruntled employers to shut down unions
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24 July 2019

Worker fired for refusing to use fingerprint sign-in wins appeal
Businesses collecting biometric data from their employees are being advised to review their processes after the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruled in favour of a worker fired for refusing to use a fingerprint scanner.
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Australians know working sick is bad for them, but they do it anyway
We’re often told Australians love pulling sickies, but this winter, businesses are being warned to watch out for the opposite. A YouGov poll of about 1,000 Aussies released this week has found a whopping two-thirds (66%) expect to go into work sick this winter.
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Why Employees Don’t Share Knowledge with Each Other
Companies want employees to share what they know. After all, research has found that this leads to greater creativity, more innovation, and better performance, for individuals, teams, and organizations. Yet despite companies’ attempts to encourage knowledge sharing (think of those open office spaces), many employees withhold what they know — a phenomenon known as knowledge hoarding or knowledge hiding.
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Companies wasting millions on diversity programs
Australian companies, government organisations and charities are wasting millions of dollars on diversity and inclusion programs, with human resources professionals conceding that nearly a third of initiatives designed to promote a more balanced workplace are either never or rarely effective.
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Why socialising in the workplace is vital for strong business
Cultivating a culture of positivity and wellness in the workplace is more important than ever as Australia experiences a mental health crisis. In fact, encouraging strong social connections should be a top priority for all businesses, particularly in a world consumed by social media and reduced social interaction.
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Wage theft is a business model. Let's criminalise it
Australia’s high-end restaurant sector has again been exposed as rotten, with George Calombaris’s restaurant business paying back nearly $8 million to hundreds of workers. For years, many of the biggest names in the industry have made their fortunes on the back of their staff who’ve worked extraordinarily long hours for terrible pay.
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Reasonable Additional Hours – What All Employers Must Know
An employee is not be entitled to be paid for any “reasonable additional hours” they work. However, an employee may be entitled to be paid overtime, penalty rates or other allowances for time worked outside of or in addition to their ordinary hours of work if they are covered by an award or enterprise agreement...
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New whistleblower laws apply from 1 July 2019: three things affected employers should do
The Act makes important changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) affecting almost all companies, including foreign corporations, trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth, ADIs, NOHCs, super funds, and insurers. This means thousands of Australian employers will need to rapidly change their approach to whistleblowing.
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Sticks and stones may break your bones but mean words… are a risk to health and safety!
Stop and take a moment to look around your office, workplace, or wherever you may be sitting. Spot at least five of your colleagues? Odds are one of them has experienced mental ill-health in the last month. Or maybe you did.
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10 July 2019

How family-friendly are Australian workplace policies?
According to UNICEF, not very friendly at all ...
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Is traditional long service still relevant?
With the changing nature of employment, more people are changing jobs more often, making it harder to access long service leave, but is it even necessary?
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Go home on time! Working long hours increases your chance of having a stroke
Australia is in the bottom third of OECD countries when it comes to working long hours, with 13% of us clocking up 50 hours or more a week in paid work. These long hours are bad for our health. A new study from France has found that regularly working long days of ten hours or more increases our risk of having a stroke.
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Research: Women Score Higher Than Men in Most Leadership Skills
So why are only 4.9% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 2% of S&P 500 CEOs women? Could it be down to confidence?
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Employers beware: If you cant say anything nice, dont say anything at all
The last few years have seen a significant spike in defamation litigation, much of which seems to have been prompted by careless comments made either via email or on social media platforms...
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Australian employment opportunities misaligned with job seekers' needs, study warns
Australia's labour market and the interests of employers and employees are seriously misaligned, according to a study by a leading jobs website.
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When is swearing in the workplace a basis for dismissal?
A useful analysis of previous cases by law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth
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General Protections claims – beware of personal liability
It has been more than 8 years since the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) came into force, however many business owners and senior managers are unaware of the existence and effect of the "General Protections" regime contained in Part 3-1 of the Act. (and that they can be sued personally!)
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16 January 2019

Australia’s Modern Slavery Act: compliance cost or business opportunity?
Australia's Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (the Act) is a significant move towards the eradication of slavery that has been largely well received by business and embraced by civil society. The Business Council of Australia welcomed the establishment of the Act, noting that 'business is committed to identifying forced labour and weeding it out of tainted supply chains'. The Business Council also acknowledged that greater transparency in supply chains will drive 'better practice'.
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Hungry Jack's accused of advertising for government-funded interns for summer period
The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union has accused Hungry Jack's of seeking interns to fill its summer workforce, relying on a taxpayer-funded payments to cover a busy time of the year. The union shared an image of a job advertisement on Facebook, which says it is "looking to help out young people with their first job" and would offer interns 15 hours per week in stores in Sydney.
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NT Police Commissioner taken to court by lower-ranking officer passed over for promotion
A Northern Territory police officer who was passed over for promotion has taken the extraordinary step of taking his commissioner to court - but his attempt to block the appointment of five successful applicants was dismissed. In Supreme Court today, Senior Sergeant Lee Morgan's lawyers said he had been second in line for the promotion, until an internal issue saw him removed from the pool by NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw.
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BHP driver sacked after Pilbara train derailment claims unfair dismissal
BHP has sacked the driver of a train which was deliberately derailed in Western Australia's remote Pilbara last year, carrying 30,000 tonnes of iron ore. The fully-laden train, pulling 268 carriages, was derailed early on November 5, about 120 kilometres south of Port Hedland.
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New National Employment Standards entitlement to family and domestic violence leave
On 12 December 2018, the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2018 (the Amendment Act) took effect. As a result, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) was amended to provide employees with a new entitlement of five days' unpaid family and domestic violence leave as part of the National Employment Standards (NES).
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The Productivity Commission inquiry was just the start. It's time for a broader review of super and how much it is needed
There’s a lot in the Productivity Commission’s landmark 722-page table-thumper of a report into Australia’s superannuation system, completed after nearly three years of invesigation. For now, I’ll make three comments.
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It's not just the isolation. Working from home has surprising downsides
What if you never had to return to work? Never had to return to work at the office, that is. You'd be able to juggle kids on school holidays. You wouldn't need to navigate traffic jams. Your employer might gain increased productivity, lower turnover and lower lease costs. But there are less obvious downsides...
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An Employee's Commute Thwarts an Employer Commuting Redundancy Pay
In the recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision in Australian Footwear T/A Diana Ferrari [2018] FWC 7864 the employer, a business trading under the name Diana Ferrari, applied to the FWC to vary the redundancy amount payable to an employee, Ms Tzortzis, whose employment was terminated on the basis of redundancy, to nil.
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The Fair Work Act and WHS Act: Should they go in the recycling bin with used wrapping paper?
The Fair Work Act has been the core industrial law governing Commonwealth Government and private sector employers for over a decade and, despite changes in Government (and six changes in Prime Minister!), the National Employment Standards and remedies available for unfair dismissal and general protections remain largely unchanged. Similarly, the Model Work Health and Safety Acts have seen limited legislative amendment, despite multiple changes in State and Territory governments. However, the familiarity of employers with these laws stands ready for significant change.
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19 December 2018

Federal Government announces casual employee amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
Jobs and Industrial Relations Minister, Kelly O'Dwyer, has announced new regulations and legislation under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to address `double dipping' claims by casual employees and casual conversion rights.
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Easier pay rises for workers in women-dominated industries under new Labor plan
Labor will enshrine gender pay equity into law as a principle guiding the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and remove barriers to equal pay applications in women-dominated industries if elected. Under changes announced on the last day of Labor's national conference in Adelaide today, the capacity of the FWC to order pay increases for workers in industries such as early childhood education, aged care and disability services will be strengthened.
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How small business owners can support their employees' health and wellbeing
Just as employers play a critical role in setting performance targets and goals for employees, employers also have the power to build a healthier workforce where staff are not just productive, but happier as well. Studies show 40.3% and 20.2% of employees are overweight or obese respectively, which costs the economy $637 million a year. And if you think that simply means a cost to the healthcare system, you'd be surprised to learn it also includes costs to productivity, as businesses are adversely affected by increased rates of absenteeism amongst workers with obesity.
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Easier pay rises for workers in women-dominated industries under new Labor plan
Labor will enshrine gender pay equity into law as a principle guiding the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and remove barriers to equal pay applications in women-dominated industries if elected. Under changes announced on the last day of Labor’s national conference in Adelaide today, the capacity of the FWC to order pay increases for workers in industries such as early childhood education, aged care and disability services will be strengthened.
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Workers compensation claims for psychological injury - dual HR and injury investigation - why both?
An employer who investigates an employee for any matter - performance, code of conduct issues, grievance complaints or anything else - can sometimes find themselves then dealing with a subsequent workers compensation claim for psychological injury. The timing of the compensation claim can vary. It can emerge at the beginning of the HR investigation. Sometimes, the claim can be made following the investigation or, often, when leave entitlements run out.
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Changes to casual employment - what you need to know
In the past few months, there has been a flurry of activity, discussion and legal changes in relation to casual employees. This article will tell you what you need to know.
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Directors' Liability for Employee Entitlements
In the December issue of the LexisNexis Inhouse Counsel Newsletter - Volume 22 Number 9&10, Tom Darbyshire looks into the implications of The Corporations Amendment (Strengthening Protections for Employee Entitlements) Bill 2018 (Cth) (the Bill) that was introduced into parliament on 20 September 2018. "Over the last year, much has been written and said in Australia about phoenixing, the process whereby the directors of a company transfer its assets or operations to another entity, leaving its debts behind and its creditors unpaid.
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FWO Report Shows There is Much to be Done
The Fair Work Ombudsman's October 2018 Report (Report) into National compliance reinforces one or two truisms that are unfortunately part of the baggage that continues to burden our industrial relations system. In addition to shining a light on those areas of our economy where non-compliance remains a huge problem, the Report tells us that almost 40% of previously non-compliant employers continue to offend.
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Union officials 'sound the alarm' on industrial relations as Labor holds firm on its policies
Union boss Sally McManus has declared she is "sounding the alarm" on rising inequality and unfairness and signalled she would turn to a Shorten Labor government to deliver more industrial relations reforms. Addressing the final day of the ALP conference in Adelaide, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary received a standing ovation as she demanded action to address insecure jobs and stagnant wages growth.
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Woolworths application for Christmas Day shifts rejected by industrial umpire
Woolworths staff will not be allowed to work Christmas Day in NSW after the Industrial Relations commission struck down a request from the supermarket chain.
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5 December 2018

Trial period provisions continue to cause headaches for employers
Mr Roach was offered the job of Business Manager at Nazareth. Mr Roach signed an employment agreement which contained a trial period, and the parties agreed on a start date. However, before Mr Roach started work as the Business Manager, he was offered the job of General Manager by Nazareth. Mr Roach accepted this offer and signed a new employment agreement, which also contained a trial period. The parties agreed that Mr Roach would start working on the previously agreed date, but as the General Manager.
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Christmas party season: if it isn't official, it isn't compensable
Ms Fiona Mozsny was a public servant who had been employed at a Service Centre within the Department of Human Services. On 10 December 2016, Ms Moszny suffered a left knee injury when she was pulled over by a drunk co-worker at a Christmas party organised and attended by a group of public servants. Ms Moszney made a claim for the injury. Comcare denied liability on the grounds that the injury had not arisen out of, or in the course of, Ms Mozsny's employment given the Christmas party was not a Department-approved or Department-organised function.
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The bold and the brave: How to speak up against bad culture
It seems speaking up is (finally) getting the traction it deserves. Whether it's calling out sexist behaviour or airing a systemic wrong that has flourished unchecked for years, plain speaking is definitely having a moment. Julia Banks' high-profile defection to the federal parliament crossbench a few days ago, and her eloquent speech about bullying in the Liberal ranks in the wake of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's dumping, paves the way for Julia to exercise her beliefs along with other political independents - hopefully continuing a tradition begun by the late Ted Mack.
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Three tips for managing annual leave in a small team over the holiday period
How much annual leave is the right amount? How do you balance the desire for work-life balance against the need to keep your business moving forward? Certain Australian companies are starting to offer extra annual leave, with some employers removing limits on leave entitlements altogether.
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Section 318 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 proves fatal to a slip in the pleadings
In Hall v Ecoline Pty Ltd T/As Treetop Adventure Park [2018] NSWSC 1732 Davies J had to decide whether the plaintiff could rely upon a statement of claim which was materially different to his pre-filing statement. The plaintiff was employed by Mars Australia Pty Ltd ((Mars) the second Defendant). At the time of his injury, the plaintiff was engaged in an off-site team-building exercise at an adventure park operated by Ecoline Pty Ltd t/as Treetop Adventure Park ((Treetops) the first Defendant).
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At last, Australia has a Modern Slavery Act. Here’s what you’ll need to know
It has taken years, but after votes in the Senate and House of Representatives last week, Australia has a Modern Slavery Act. It’ll take effect on January 1. But what difference will it make? First, what is modern slavery?
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ICAC report condemns SafeWork SA following failed prosecutions
South Australia's anti-corruption watchdog has released a scathing report into SafeWork SA, saying the workplace safety agency fails to carry out most of the functions expected of it and is at serious risk of corruption. The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) launched the evaluation following two high-profile failed prosecutions, and a large number of complaints against the body.
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Penalty for newspaper director
The former director of a Sydney newspaper publisher has been penalised after threatening and later sacking a journalist who sought assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Federal Circuit Court has ordered Theodore Skalkos, sole director of F.L. Press Pty Ltd, to pay $27,500 in penalties to a former employee of the Serbian-language Novosti newspaper.
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Important support for retrenched workers
The Coalition Government has agreed its first partnerships under the innovative Stronger Transitions package, partnering with two Melbourne businesses to deliver training and support to workers before retrenchment, helping them to move to new jobs sooner. Earlier this year, both Bitzer and Dunlop Flooring separately announced they would be ending their operations in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine.
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Remote work is the 'new frontier', but is it really the death of the office?
Mike Eckstein was living the "millennial dream", working for an exciting start-up in Chicago, far from the cloistered tech scene at home in Sydney. In his late 20s, flexible work was the last thing on his mind - something for parents and part-retirees. Then his mum got sick with a degenerative disease that demanded round-the-clock care. Mr Eckstein packed up his new life and moved back to Sydney.
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Wages crisis threatens to cause a financial meltdown, killing a 'fair go'
Low wages growth is undermining financial stability, curtailing economic growth, driving people into dangerous indebtedness, deepening inequality and undermining the Australian social compact built on the principle of a "fair go". That's the conclusion of a new book produced by some of Australia's leading labour market scholars and researchers, The Wages Crisis in Australia.
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28 November 2018

How to stop paying compensation after 33 years
Ms Tocade suffered an aggravation of pre-existing arthritis in the neck at a work function in 1984. Comcare paid compensation for some 33 years, until 29 May 2017, when Comcare determined it was no longer liable to pay compensation for medical expenses and incapacity.
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Injured on a work trip: is the employer liable? AAT considers another hotel injury claim
While on a work trip, the applicant slipped over at her hotel after a night out drinking. The Tribunal found that the injury was sustained in an interval from her employment as the activities undertaken were not induced or encouraged by Telstra.
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To Protect (your income) and Serve
Damages are capital and not "income" under an income protection policy. To reduce compensation benefits due to a payment of damages for loss of earning capacity, income protection policies need to be clearly worded to do so.
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The Christmas party - what are the employer's responsibilities?
We have all heard stories where people let their hair down at the Christmas party - and the boozy office bash turns messy. A number of untoward things can take place! We have reached that time of the year when we need to remind ourselves and staff about acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour. Clearly unwelcome, uninvited and sometimes unintentional behaviour that can make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated is unacceptable.
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Five strategies for dealing with a manipulative co-worker
Manipulators in everyday life are not necessarily bad people. You might admire or even love a manipulator (they are frequently found in family contexts), but feel tormented by their constant conniving. I've dealt with a variety of difficult people over recent weeks, like the needy, controlling and aggressive, or the disrespectful, moody and procrastination-prone, but for many of us, the manipulator is especially challenging because they push our emotional buttons.
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When a consequential condition does not result from a work injury
The worker brought proceedings in the Workers Compensation Commission claiming compensation pursuant to section 60 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 for treatment of claimed right shoulder and right clavicle conditions. He claimed those conditions were compensable for two reasons: 1. His right shoulder condition arose as a result of him favouring that shoulder after suffering compensable injury to his left shoulder on 13 July 2010, and 2. He injured his right clavicle when he fell while getting out of a car on 2 July 2017. He claimed because of the problems with his shoulders he was unable to brace against the impact of the fall as a result of which he injured his clavicle.
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Let's get flexible, flexible
The Fair Work Commission is getting serious about normalising family-friendly working arrangements. From 1 December 2018, all modern awards will require employers to genuinely try to reach agreement with their award-covered employees on a flexible working arrangement, if requested by the employee.
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Contractors vs Employees: who do I need to pay superannuation to?
As an employer, one of the most important factors to keep in mind with regard to the engagement of contractors is ensuring that you get the on-costs right. The rules for superannuation, payroll tax and workers compensation are complicated, not only due to the general uncertainty surrounding the tests used to classify workers as either employees or contractors, or the grab bag of considerations to be taken into account, but also thanks to the fact that legislation in each area prescribes different exceptions or extensions to those rules.
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Redefining workers in the platform economy: lessons from the Foodora bunfight
Had Foodora's Australian operations not already gone into voluntary administration, the November 16 decision of the Fair Work Commission might well have finished the food-delivery company off. The commission upheld former courier Josh Klooger's unfair dismissal complaint against Foodora. In doing so, it found Foodora had incorrectly classified him as an independent contractor, rather than an employee.
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Mining firms set up LGBTI inclusion policies, but more work needs to be done
The participation of women in the mining and resources sector has long been discussed, but more recently attention has been drawn to the experiences of workers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). One of Western Australia's biggest mining companies, Alcoa, is at the forefront of that debate, admitting the sector is not the beacon of diversity it should be.
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RCR Tomlinson collapse leaves contractors hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket, union warns
The collapse of one of the nation's oldest engineering companies RCR Tomlinson has destroyed Christmas for thousands of families, according to the union dealing with the fallout from the unexpected job losses. Electrical Trade Union (ETU) state secretary Peter Ong said hundreds of devastated contractors were calling him saying they were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars and were suffering financial hardship.
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21 November 2018

Victoria's Secret backlash over trans and plus-sized models is a 21st century labour dispute
Victoria's Secret CEO Jan Singer has resigned after two years in the job in a storm of controversy. Part of the reason for her departure was the declining financial performance of the company, but the immediate cause was a public relations crisis brought on by the models and influencers the brand depends on. It all unfolded over a week. On Thursday, November 8, marketing director Ed Razek gave an interview to Vogue ahead of the recording of the Victoria's Secret fashion show.
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SA teachers set to vote to go on strike for first time in 10 years
Parents "should plan now" for South Australia's first public schools teachers' strike in 10 years, the Australian Education Union says. Teachers are voting this week on whether to walk off the job next Thursday morning, November 29.
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Confidentiality agreements frustrate national inquiry into workplace sexual harassment
The Human Rights Commission wants employers to temporarily lift confidentiality agreements so that workers can give evidence to its ongoing inquiry into workplace sexual harassment. And they want it to happen by the end of the month. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins called the inquiry in June to look at the best ways to prevent harassment in the workplace and respond to allegations.
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Commission orders compensation for distressing employment termination
The Fair Work Commission has ordered that compensation be paid to three employees of an Indigenous Corporation for the distress caused by their employer asking that they prove their connection to the local traditional owner group.
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The royal commission is about to grill the chiefs of the big four banks. Here's why soon they mightn't exist
It will be worth watching the final round of hearings at the banking royal commission, which begin on Monday. The chief executives of each of the big four will be recalled for reexaminations. It might be the final time they appear in the same room. It might even be the last time there's even such a thing as the big four.
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Union Rights of Entry: What Employers Need to Know
Provisions within the Fair Work Act surrounding right of entry currently allow union representatives with an entry permit to enter an employer's premises in order to meet with employees who are, or could be members of the union, to hold discussions during "breaks", or to investigate a suspected contravention of an award or enterprise agreement. As with all others within the Fair Work Act, the rules surrounding right of entry must be strictly adhered to by all stakeholders.
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Bureaucratic thinking versus brilliant minds at the workplace
Nature abhors a vacuum and bureaucracy positively detests brilliance. We don't "do" brilliance very well. We admire it from a distance, but we wouldn't like to have to live with it or worse work with it. We'd run a marathon in preference to managing a brilliant person. We'd apply to be a shepherd on a cat farm rather than recruiting a brilliant staffer.
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When it comes to a gender equality strategy, 70% of employers lack authenticity
It's Thursday morning, and a message flashes up on my phone. Another invitation to meet for coffee from a fellow business executive, wanting to find out more about me and my business. Initially, these invitations also had me intrigued. I'd graciously accept, expressing my preference for hot chocolate and suggesting my favourite haunt. Perhaps I might be offered a potential business partnership, inclusion in a leadership mentoring program or invitation to speak at an event?
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'Epidemic of time theft': Australians work two months' unpaid overtime a year
Australians are working an average of six hours' unpaid overtime a week, a total of $106bn of free work given to employers every year. An Australia Institute survey of 1,459 people to mark the 10th anniversary of Go Home on Time Day, found Australia suffers from an epidemic of overwork while others complain of underemployment. The survey suggests the rates of unpaid overtime are increasing, to an average of six hours' unpaid work a week in 2018, up from 5.1 hours a week in 2017 and 4.6 hours in 2016.
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Casual workers in Australia getting short-changed, research finds
Many casual workers are not getting paid much more than their permanent counterparts, and some are even making less, new research has found. The peak body for unions claims the research has "blown apart the myth" from the business lobby that casuals are paid a significant premium for the loss of leave rights and job security.
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14 November 2018

'I was failing as a mother and a career woman': Why Kim put her family first
The pressure on mothers to "have it all" is unrelenting – to be a present, loving and attentive mum as well as a career woman climbing the corporate ladder. But it's often not easy to achieve this elusive balance, as shown by this year's high-profile resignations of TV personality Jessica Rowe and radio host Em Rusciano, who both cited family reasons: "I want to be a more present mum for my girls," Rowe said when announcing her decision to leave Studio 10. "They need their mum."
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'Classic no-win situation': Harassment can mean career suicide for workers, reputational damage for companies
Women still feel they are in a no-win situation if they speak up about harassment in the workplace even as some employers take a tougher stance against bad behaviour, including tightening the reins on Christmas parties. The best most women can hope for if they make a legal complaint is monetary compensation, but taking action is often viewed as "career suicide".
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The Google walkout is a watershed moment in 21st century labour activism
That 20,000 Google employees walked off the job on Nov 1 was a watershed event, a hugely significant symbolic development for labour relations in the 21st century. After all, this is Google, supposedly the best company to work for in a sector renowned for luring the brightest and best with large salaries and excellent conditions.
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Startup employee wages ‘unsustainably’ high as government migration policies stymie tech talent
Earlier this year, a report by Deloitte and Australian Computer Society (ACS) highlighted the need for Australia to find an additional 200,000 technology workers in the next five years, or risk becoming increasingly irrelevant as a digital economy. As it stands, the talent deficit is driving businesses to go to increasingly greater monetary lengths to entice top performers, driving up wage growth in the tech space at the cost of innovation.
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Merivale staff seek to kill off WorkChoices-era pay agreement over weekend penalty rates
Two current Merivale hospitality staff have launched a bid in the Fair Work Commission to terminate a 2007 employee agreement which they say leaves them worse off than if they were covered by the hospitality award.
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Why You Should Invest In A Healthy Team
Our work force reflects our society, and things are not looking great. As a society in Australia we spend $170 billion or just over 10 per cent of GDP on healthcare. According to a report absenteeism and presenteeism, that is showing up for work but not being at your best, costs the Australian economy $35 billion/year or three per cent of GDP. When organisations also factor in the indirect costs of absenteeism, such as replacement labour, lost productivity and increased risk, absenteeism comes at huge costs, particularly to those that have to cover for it.
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Industrial muscle exposes union’s sham safety concerns
The Federal Court of Australia has imposed significant penalties on the CFMMEU after it found the union again in breach of workplace right of entry laws when it targeted BKH Group construction sites under the guise of genuinely held safety concerns.
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Managing mental health – employers must respond proactively to known risks of psychiatric harm
A state government employee with known mental health issues, who suffered a breakdown after a mounting conflict with her supervisor was not properly addressed, was awarded more than $600,000 in damages.
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You don’t have to be ‘perfect’ when it comes to Reasonable Administrative Action
It is not the role of the Tribunal to assess whether the employer is managing the worker wisely, or sympathetically, or if there is an appropriate management culture in place. The Tribunal’s task is to decide whether the particular administrative action was reasonable.
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Move over millennials: Here comes the older coworking class
When Peter Mayne’s coworking space decided to trial ‘treadmill’ desks, the 70 year old serial entrepreneur was one of the first up and running. The founder of business advisory Mayne Capital has spent years of his career in traditional office spaces, but he's now entered a career chapter that sees him sharing space and ideas with a whole range of startup companies.
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Foodora Australia admits riders owed $5m were 'more likely than not' employees
On Thursday, the administrators released a report in which they conceded Foodora had been underpaying its workers by incorrectly classing them as independent contractors.
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Class action firm to intervene in casual worker test case
A class action law firm representing thousands of workers allegedly owed more than $320 million in entitlements will apply to intervene in a casual worker test case. ACT-based law firm Adero will on Thursday apply in the Federal Court to intervene in the case between mining industry labour hire firm WorkPac and its former worker Robert Rossato, which seeks to clarify the definition of a casual worker.
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7 November 2018

Ageism is rife: A third of employers illegally specify an age limit on job applications, new research shows
The Employing Older Workers report, overseen by the Australian Human Rights Commission, found almost a third of Australian employers continue to specify an age limit for job applicants, despite the practice being illegal. Moreover, 30% of those employers will not employ people over 50, despite two-thirds acknowledging this protocol has lost the business valuable skills and intellectual property.
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Sydney's Anglican schools fight for exemptions which allow discrimination against gay teachers
The heads of 34 Anglican Schools in NSW have written to federal MPs urging them to protect exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act that allow them to sack gay teachers.
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Westpac whistleblower reports poor risk culture and 'coverups' to APRA
A Westpac risk manager claims to have been ignored and bullied for raising red flags on alleged shortcomings on a technology project at the bank. "I don't trust HR will protect me, but I am just doing my job," the risk manager said. "I want to do my job properly and I don't expect to be abused for doing it."
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Diversity and profit: there is a link
Professor Ian Williamson, pro vice chancellor and dean of commerce at Wellington’s Victoria Business School, said that in a business environment facing severe talent shortages, diversity was the solution not only to shoring up staff numbers but had significantly positive impacts on organisational performance. “Human capital will become the scarcest factor” he said.
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Pregnant and discriminated against at work? Here's what to do
Pregnancy discrimination can take a range of surprising and sometimes subtle forms, from negative attitudes ("It's not a good look for you to have that baby bump in a customer service role") to dismissal (sometimes disguised as a redundancy). When you're at the receiving end, it can be difficult to identify discrimination and to know how to react — but if you suspect you're a target, this expert-approved advice can help you take action.
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Managing stress and uncertainty during a work crisis
When you're stressed at work it can affect everything in your life from your sleep and health, to your finances and relationships. It can even challenge your sense of identity. But keeping it to yourself isn't the answer. So here's some expert advice about what to do when work is getting you down.
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'State Of Permanent Jet Lag': Work-Related Insomnia Affecting One In Five Aussies
One in five Aussie workers are experiencing work-related insomnia -- an initial sign of mental illness, according to a new survey. The study of more than 5,000 workers also found that one in five currently experience a mental health condition, with 45 percent of those claiming they've been exposed to stigma in the workplace as a result.
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The Digital Workplace Divide
The workplace today can be anywhere from a remote office to a transatlantic plane. Workers now expect the same tools, access and connectivity wherever they are. The result is that technology inspires some and disrupts others. Learn more about specific concerns and trends in Australia, and the tangible steps we believe organisations can take now to respond to and empower their digital workers.
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A flexible workplace isn’t right fit for everyone
Flexible work arrangements encompass many formats, including part-time hours, job sharing, working from home or telecommuting, or even working compressed hours — for example, working the equivalent of a full week but over four days. Other variations include phased retirement, purchased leave and career breaks, and working as “a day extender”, which might involve working predominantly in the office, but carrying out additional work at home during the evening. But before you jump on the bandwagon, give some thought to whether flexible work arrangements are right for you.
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Mapping wellbeing in the workplace
The water cooler has long been the place to congregate and chat at work, but workplaces offer a rich variety of other spaces where people gather, hide, learn, and feel safe or unsafe. These components are all part of wellbeing at work. New fields of study are opening up into mapping and analysing what kind of resources are built for people in these work micro-geographies – and how that affects people’s behaviour, productivity and mental wellbeing at work, both positively and negatively.
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It's that time of year again - Vicarious liability and the office Christmas party
The damaging aftermath of work functions can be numerous: workers’ compensation claims, bullying claims, dismissal claims, sexual harassment claims and discrimination complaints. For this reason, the months of December and January can be a busy time for employment lawyers. The risk of sexual harassment, as well as other forms of nasties such as discrimination complaints and workplace injuries can increase over the silly season.
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The curious case of the missing workplace teaspoons
Once upon a time, a group of disheartened scientists found their tearoom bereft of teaspoons. Despite dispatching a research assistant to go purchase more – so sugar could be stirred and coffee dispensed – the newly purchased teaspoons disappeared within a few short months. Exasperated by the disappearance, the scientists decided they would measure the phenomenon. Do the teaspoons really disappear over time?
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31 October 2018

Can employees be dismissed for making vexatious complaints?
What can an employer do if an employee makes vexatious or baseless complaints in the pursuit of some ulterior purpose? These complaints might be made within the business, for example to a supervisor, HR or the Board, or externally, for example by way of a bullying application to the Fair Work Commission. In either case, the employer will likely be required to divert considerable resources away from the business or organisation to respond to, investigate and manage the complaint, and it is likely to be a stressful and destabilising matter for the business and those affected. This article will consider how courts have approached the issue and discuss how an employer may effectively manage vexatious complaints to mitigate the risk of legal claims.
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Dishonesty during the recruitment process can justify dismissal
The Fair Work Commission has held that the dismissal of an employee for providing false and misleading information during the recruitment process was not unfair, despite procedural failings by the employer.
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Conspiracy theories lead to accidental discrimination
Discrimination and Disability remain an important point of discussion in our workplaces. In a rare ‘assumed disability’ discrimination case (Stefanac v Secretary, Department of Family and Community Services [2018] NSWCATD 106), a Tribunal has awarded $20,000 to a public servant forced to take sick leave over concerns about her enthusiasm for conspiracy theories.
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How an Australian business owner left a lasting impression on Richard Branson
An Australian refugee who now runs her own business is a perfect example of why employers should look beyond CVs and resumes when they hire, Virgin founder Richard Branson says.
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As Australia’s workforce becomes more casualised, what does it mean for business owners?
To say it’s been a tumultuous couple of months for businesses in Australia would be an understatement. We’re not talking about the strawberry or honey crises, housing market upheaval, or even the crippling drought affecting thousands of farmers up north. Instead, business owners have been struck with uncertainty about the best way to do something fundamentally core to their business: hiring people.
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Expecting autistic people to ‘fit in’ is cruel and unproductive; value us for our strengths
Just 16% of adults with autism are in full-time paid employment, and this situation is not improving. The Economist has described this as “a tragic toll, as millions of people live idle and isolated outside the world of work”. When people with autism do get a job, they face bullying, discrimination and isolation in the workplace.
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The gig economy is nothing new – it was standard practice in the 18th century
While it might seem that long-established ways of working are being disrupted, history shows us that the one person, one career model is a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to industrialisation in the 19th century, most people worked multiple jobs to piece together a living. Looking to the past uncovers some of the challenges, benefits and consequences of a gig economy.
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Google sacks dozens over sexual harassment
Google has sacked 48 people including 13 senior managers over sexual harassment claims since 2016. In a letter to employees, chief executive Sundar Pichai said the tech giant was taking a "hard line" on inappropriate conduct.
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Study finds that job creep reduces productivity at work
Research by professors from the University of South Australia has found that continuing work-related activities after hours has an adverse effect on productivity and recovery.
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If you think the best way to advance your career in Australia is to jump from job to job, think again. Most employers will overlook you
If you think the best way to advance your career in Australia is to jump from job to job, think again. According to a new survey from global jobs specialist Indeed, rather than helping you climb your way to the top sooner than what otherwise would be the case, it could be harming your prospects of landing your dream job. Based on responses from over 200 employers, the vast majority overlook a candidate who often changes jobs.
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The truth behind the standing-up-at-work movement
The average office worker today is more immobile than at any other point in human history. Hunter-gatherers walked an average of 15 kilometres a day, every day of their lives, according to Harvard Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, Daniel Lieberman. By contrast, when you add the car commute, the sedentary working day and your lounge time, we can sit for more than 15 hours a day without even noticing. The dangers of this lifestyle were pointed out in an online toolkit created by the University of Queensland. It states that people who sit for more than 11 hours a day have a 40 per cent increased risk of death in the next three years, compared with people who sit for less than four hours.
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Time to pay your employees some Bitcoin?
In some news likely to make payroll officers everywhere shudder in despair, a survey by Australian blockchain human resources company Chronobank has found the majority of cryptocurrency fans would prefer their wages in Bitcoin over regular currency.
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24 October 2018

Does it matter what degree grade you get?
Universities are being warned they could be penalised in teaching quality rankings for handing out too many top degree grades. The University of Surrey has given first-class degrees to more than 40% of its students in recent years - and now about three-quarters of them either get a first or an upper second (2:1) across UK universities. Does this mean that employers are less impressed?
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Smoking at work FAQs
With the sharp increase in restrictions around the sale, promotion and public consumption of cigarettes over the last 15 years, it's no wonder there's confusion around smoking in the workplace. Are smoke breaks required by law? Is discriminating against smokers unlawful? Can an employer say where and when an employee is allowed to smoke at work?
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Watchdog inquires into prominent chef Guillaume Brahimi over underpayment allegations
The Fair Work Ombudsman says its "making enquiries" regarding one of prominent French chef Guillaume Brahimi's restaurants, amid allegations it is underpaying staff. Citing leaked rosters and payslips, Fairfax alleged in an investigation published on Sunday Brahimi is underpaying permanent workers at his Melbourne restaurant through unpaid overtime.
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When you get a deluge of job offers the best advice is - panic
If you get inundated by a flood of work offers, don't stay calm. Sometimes composure during overwhelming circumstances is overrated. When it rains it pours. It's not quite a proverb. It's not quite a cliche. But it's incontestably true. Well, not in a literal sense; sometimes it spits gently or there's just a fine mist.
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Boards that 'pick and stick' with the boss
At the time of writing, the ongoing saga at the ABC has seen both the chief executive and then the Chair of the Board lose their jobs. When the music finally stops, the remainder of the board might discover that they too have no chair remaining to sit on. There are questions about conduct that need answering.
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Government wades into casual confusion
The realm of casual employment has been a chaotic place lately. And it just got a little more political. For a quick recap, check out our bulletin. On appeal, the Full Federal Court upheld the decision that WorkPac was required to provide its casual employee with leave entitlements associated with permanent employment. WorkPac decided not to appeal to the High Court. It has now gone on the offensive. In a separate matter, WorkPac has filed proceedings in the Federal Court.
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Please don't dismiss the PC inquiry into mental health as `just another inquiry'
While chairing the National Mental Health Commission I pushed hard for an all-encompassing review of mental health, and I have welcomed the recent announcement that the Productivity Commission will conduct one. But I've been distressed to hear commentators dismiss it as just another inquiry, or one conducted through a narrow economic lens. Its strength is that it won't be limited to a narrow health lens.
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How to make work menopause-friendly: don't think of it as a problem to be managed
For many, menopause conjures up feelings of embarrassment, hot flushes, mood swings and sleep disturbance. It doesn't usually conjure up thoughts about the workplace. Yet menopause at work is fast becoming a target of government and organisational concern.
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Lucas Heights facility fails modern nuclear safety standards, independent review finds
A 1950s-era nuclear medicine lab in south-west Sydney should be replaced after a worker was exposed to radioactive material, an independent expert review has recommended. The review, published this morning, said the Lucas Heights facility failed modern nuclear safety standards and had a culture of "make-do and mend".
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Union rally floods Melbourne CBD as tens of thousands march for minimum wage increase
Several streets in Melbourne's CBD were closed to traffic as tens of thousands of Victorians joined a union protest calling for greater increases to the minimum wage and better job security. Protests were held in capital cities across Australia — as well as several regional cities — as part of the Australian Council of Trade Unions' (ACTU) Change The Rules campaign.
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Army, Navy and Air Force veterans face a fight against unemployment post-military life
Cheri had a successful 24-year career in the Army before deciding to return to civilian life. Her tours in the Middle East and various deployments at home earned her a set of skills that would be the envy of most workers. Now, as well as an admirable record of service, she has 30 job rejection letters to her name.
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Unions furious about Government's decision to join casual workers court case
The Federal Government has joined a court case trying to stop casual workers "double dipping" on leave entitlements, arguing recent decisions have caused "anxiety" among small businesses around the country. Jobs Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said a case currently before the Federal Court risked allowing casual workers to claim leave entitlements on top of their casual pay loading.
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17 October 2018

National survey on sexual harassment in the workplace paints an ugly picture.
The results of the 2018 survey on sexual harassment in the workplace (conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and involving over 10,0000 Australian participants) are now in, and they have produced what I would consider to be some seriously concerning statistics.
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The seven things you need to do right now if you employ casual employees
Employers around Australia are grappling with the effect of a recent decision of the Full Federal Court, which found that employers must pay annual leave to wider categories of employees than previously thought. This wider category includes those employed as casual employees. That is, employees who have agreed to be engaged as a casual and receive a casual loading, typically 25%. In addition, those employees may now be entitled to four weeks' paid annual leave per year. The only employees excluded are those who have "the essence of casualness".
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To change the culture you've got to change the people
You've got to change the people. Literally, find new people. Or help the people you have to change. Any shift in culture will require one of those changes. And in case you think culture is fluffy stuff, recent investigations into bad behaviour by people in financial services and other sectors demonstrate why this matters and the ripples it causes. Culture is a behaviour glue, binding the actions and decisions of an organisation.
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Toxic workplaces are feeding the impostor phenomenon - here's why
Research suggests that around 70% of people will experience an illogical sense of being a phoney at work at some point in their careers. It's called the impostor phenomenon (also known, erroneously, as a syndrome). These impostor feelings typically manifest as a fear of failure, fear of success, a sometimes obsessive need for perfection, and an inability to accept praise and achievement. The phenomenon is also characterised by a genuine belief that at some point you, as the "impostor", are going to be found out for being a fake in your role.
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For the sake of our retirement savings, it's time to reform the investment management boys' club
Australians have A$2.6 trillion in superannuation assets. We conducted a study of Australian women who influence or make decisions about how these assets are invested. Research shows gender-diverse investment teams lead to better investment returns. Yet women report being subject to sexist and unequal treatment in their industry.
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Vital Signs: Amazon has lifted its wages, but the implications aren't as good as you might think
Amazon has just voluntarily raised its employees' minimum wage to US$15 an hour. Retail giant Costco has moved to US$14. This might not sound like a lot - and it is sure not a lot to live on - but with the US federal minimum wage at US$7.25 it is a big shift. Why are they paying more? The cheap answer is that Amazon in particular has buckled to external pressure.
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Tax rates and child care leave mums returning to work for next to no extra earnings: KPMG
Would you increase your working days from three to four to earn just $2.50 an hour? This is a scenario that could affect some partnered women with two children, if the woman is the second-income earner in the family working part-time, and she and her husband are both on the minimum wage.
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Why women don't ask for a pay rise
Over my 30 years in business I have seen many things. I'd like to say that nothing surprises me anymore. However one thing that continues to surprise me is, that in 30 years of business, until last week, not one of my female employees has ever asked for a pay rise. They have asked for more flexibility or more perks, but never more money. It baffles me as that has not been my experience with my male employees. Why is it so different?
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Employer had a valid reason to dismiss a flight attendant who called in sick due to intoxication
In a recent case, Luke Urso v QF Cabin Crew Australia Pty Limited T/A QCCA [2018] FWC 4436, the Fair Work Commission found the dismissal of a flight attendant because he was highly intoxicated during a layover was not unfair. Mr Urso was employed as a flight attendant with QF Cabin Crew Australia Pty Limited (QCCA), a subsidiary of Qantas Airways Limited (Qantas). On 22 July 2017, Mr Urso was `on slip', the term used when cabin crew are away from base and waiting for their next operational duty, in New York. He attended a bar with a fellow crew member, Mr Littmoden, between 10:00pm and 10:30pm. Mr Urso said he consumed two peach martinis and three gin and tonics.
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SA Employment Tribunal rules nurses' industrial action can go ahead
The South Australian Employment Tribunal has ruled planned industrial action in Adelaide hospitals can go ahead from tomorrow. The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation is protesting against overcrowding in emergency departments, saying the hospital system is at breaking point. The State Government lodged an urgent appeal with the tribunal late on Friday to try to have the action called off.
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Perth commuter chaos as bus strike, heavy fog disrupt road traffic
Perth bus drivers have voted to continue their campaign of industrial action after a strike by union members caused disruption for city commuters this morning, who were doubly impacted by heavy fog causing freeway congestion. At meetings in Joondalup and Rockingham this morning the drivers agreed not to switch on their bus ticket machines and were stood down for 48 hours by their employer, Transdev.
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10 October 2018


AHRC survey highlights actions employers should take now on sexual harassment
Against the background of the #MeToo movement, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has launched a 12-month national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace. The world-first inquiry is now accepting submissions and will hold public consultations across Australia later in 2018. The AHRC has also just released the results of its fourth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. These results confirm the pressing need for the holding of the inquiry, and highlight significant systemic issues for employers to address.
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Hospitable work in a co-working space
Co-working is now so commonplace that most new participants to the system know what to expect. Within these shared work environments. designers rub shoulders with tech start-up founders at the photocopier, while freelancers shoot the breeze with entrepreneurs in the communal kitchen.
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Shakespeare was right: What's in a name? Not much when it comes to casual employees
Mr Skene worked for WorkPac, a labour hire company, from April 2010 until April 2012. He was employed as a truck driver at two different Queensland mines. The employment agreements signed by Mr Skene all classified him as a casual employee and he was paid the appropriate casual loadings under the Workpac Pty Ltd Mining (Coal) Industry Workplace Agreement 2007. Given he received the casual loading, he didn't receive benefits attached to permanent employment such as annual leave. Sounds pretty clear, right?
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Labor's pay policy merely hints at helping low paid workers rather than actually doing it
There is little dispute the pay packages for leading chief executives have reached gross and excessive proportions while the wages of poorly paid Australians have stagnated. Pay ratios - a measure of disparity between the highest and median (representative) wages within a company - stand at around 100:1 in Australia's largest firms. That's up from 15:1 in the late 1970s.
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How to stop workers being exploited in the gig economy
Hot on the heels of the gig economy company Foodora shutting up shop in Australia amid accusations about its labour abuses, a Senate Committee report has recommended more robust laws to protect gig economy workers. But this doesn't go far enough. Foodora, which uses bicycle couriers to deliver food, says it has pulled out of Australia to focus on opportunities in other countries. Legal cases against it might also have had something to do with it.
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There is nothing sacrosanct about corporate culture; we can and must regulate it
Almost every inquiry into financial institutions, no matter the country, finds evidence of systemic misconduct. Customers overcharged, deceived and defrauded. At the root of the problem is organisational culture. It's a safe bet Australia's Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry will find the same. So what to do about it?
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Employee sent home from work without pay: Employer not required to pay employee who was unable to work
In a recent case, BHP Coal Pty Ltd t/a BHP Billiton v Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union [2018] FWCFB (27 July 2018), the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission found an employee does not have to be paid if forced on leave because they cannot perform their role. Mr Goldspring, an employee of BHP, was informed that he was not permitted to work for a period after he had his drivers licence suspended for one month due to driving whilst suspended. Mr Goldspring's work duties had primarily involved the on-site operation of vehicles and mobile equipment for which a driver's license was required under the relevant safety regulations.
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McDonald's accused of exploiting young workers with 'learn and churn' practice
McDonald's Australia has been accused of systematically "churning" its workforce and reducing shifts for workers as they grow older in a bid to cut costs and hire younger staff. The global fast food chain is a major employer in Australia with more than 100,000 workers in stores across the country, which are mostly franchises.
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Up to 900 jobs at risk at Gold Coast Jewel development site amid 'unprecedented' problems, union warns
Up to 900 construction jobs on a Gold Coast high-rise development site could be at risk amid "unprecedented" problems, the construction union says. The CFMEU said 150 workers effectively lost their jobs on the Surfers Paradise project last week after builder Multiplex sent a message to some contractors drastically reducing their work. The union's assistant state secretary Jade Ingham said workers and the unions haven't been told the full story about what is going on.
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Unions calling for shake-up of employee bargaining powers ahead of next federal election
The union movement is demanding a dramatic shakeup of the way employees can negotiate pay and conditions, seizing on concerns over sluggish wage growth and fuelling debate about Australia's industrial relations landscape months out from a federal election.
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3 October 2018

Why emotional intelligence is the new black
You've likely heard of Daniel Goleman. It was 1995 when he suggested to the world the ability to manage one's own emotions and those of others was more important than how intellectually smart an individual is. This was further backed by The Future of Jobs report which says emotional intelligence will be one of the top 10 job skills in 2020.
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Men 'too scared' to mentor young women after #MeToo must lean in
I think every young, working woman would agree the #MeToo campaign was wildly overdue. As a former television news reporter in a capital city with a dozen #MeToo moments of my own, I fully endorse predators being exposed. When I consider all my major career moves, they were each made possible by a handful of men whose ongoing support, mentorship and sponsorship created real and lasting opportunity for me. These guys have been candid in their counsel, consistently respectful and relentlessly encouraging in their belief of me.
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How does the professional workforce feel about Fridays?
The Easybeats had a hit with Friday on my mind in 1965: Monday I have Friday on my mind...Do the 5 day drag once more... It's fair to say that a lot has changed in the professional world in the 50+ years since the above tune hit the charts, but according to both recent research and anecdotal evidence, nothing much has changed in employee attitudes towards Fridays: workers hang out for the end of the week, and generally speaking, Friday is far from favourable in terms of getting things done around the office.
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Spirals and circles, snakes and ladders. Why women’s super is complex
This week’s International Day of Older Persons reminds us Australia has made an international commitment to work towards the eradication of poverty in old age, and that at least one side of politics, Labor, has developed a suite of policies it says will help.
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Australian employers offering unlimited leave, Lego rooms and onsite boxing
In a time when many employers are offering less and less, some are bucking the trend.
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Does your business need a labour agreement?
Sponsoring an overseas worker has become a little more challenging following the recent changes to the employer sponsored visa legislation. The criteria impacting businesses the most is the introduction of the short term and medium to long term occupation lists where many in demand occupations do not appear on the list. If a business needs to sponsor an overseas worker but the occupation is not on the appropriate list, or the overseas worker doesn't have the required minimum two years work experience then sponsorship is not available under the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa. This is where labour agreements come in handy.
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Contracts of Employment
The employment contract governs one of the most significant relationships in people's lives being that between the employee and employer. When well drafted, the employment contract is beneficial for both the employer and the employee as, amongst other things, it provides clarity regarding the obligations of both parties.
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Hundreds of workers walk off the job at billion-dollar Gold Coast Jewel resort development
Hundreds of workers are striking at a troubled $1 billion development on the Gold Coast, as subcontractors fear they will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars on the project.
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Politics podcast: Brendan O'Connor on Labor's industrial relations agenda
With Scott Morrison flagging his government will take a hard line on industrial relations, especially the CFMEU, Labor's shadow minister for employment and workplace relations, Brendan O'Connor will have a tough job ahead of the election. O'Connor says Labor remains totally opposed to the government's Ensuring Integrity legislation, which the Coalition wants to resurrect. "I can't see this bill in any way being salvageable, and that's why of course it sat for a year without the Senate debating it," he says.
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You shouldn't tolerate bullying in the workplace, even when it comes from your boss
Assertive people-even aggressive people-thrive in American workplaces. If your boss is intimidating or a coworker has a temper, even the most well-meaning business experts will often tell you to "toughen up" or move on. As the old saying goes, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," right?
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Dangers of Ignoring HR Technology in Your Business
In this world of smartphones and connected refrigerators, your customers and employees expect you to keep pace with technology. From retail to travel to banking, the consumer expectation of on-demand service is the new normal. This goes for human resources, too. When someone applies for a job, or changes their withholding amounts, or submits their hours at the end of pay period-technology is key.
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26th September 2018

Is it time to review your employment agreements?
We live in an age of constant change where disruption, innovation and evolution are norms. In the business sector, it is good practice for employers to regularly review employment agreements, job descriptions, key-performance-indicators, wages and salaries, and the existence of the job itself. However, the principle of sanctity of contract is one of the cornerstones of the law, and therefore it is not surprising that the courts have made it clear that one party cannot unilaterally change or override the express terms of an employment agreement. It is fundamental that any variation to the employment agreement requires the genuine consent of the parties, whether the variation take the form of an alteration to existing terms or conditions, or the imposition of a new contractual term.
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"Impossible to run a business": Fair Work Commission decision to force employers to justify flexible work decisions
Australian employers will soon have to provide reasoning for denying any worker requests for flexible work arrangements under changes to modern awards to be implemented following a decision by the Fair Work Commission. The full bench of the Commission has decided to insert a clause into all modern awards to provide employees with the right to pursue legal action if employers fail to properly consider their requests for flexible work arrangements.
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Nine things you should never keep at your desk
Organisation comes naturally to some, but for others, it's just not in their nature. Maybe you're too busy to clean up, or perhaps organised chaos works well for you. Regardless, a messy desk can negatively impact productivity and your ability to perform tasks efficiently at work, according to a study published in The Harvard Business Review. Additionally, some of the items you keep on your desk may not be appropriate for the workplace, such as political items or documents with sensitive information.
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New ACL Penalties: no longer just the cost of doing business
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) penalties imposed by the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (Act) have often been viewed by highly profitable corporates as an inconvenience or just `a cost of doing business' - rather than a deterrent. This perception has fostered a culture of non-compliance, in direct contrast to the very purpose for which the penalties are imposed.
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Liability under the Fair Work Act: a very personal concern
It is becoming too common for plaintiffs and their legal representatives to bring claims personally against managers (and others) they feel were involved in an alleged contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009. Such an approach by plaintiff employees is, in part, tactical; a step designed to place pressure on the corporate employer to settle for the wellbeing of its manager and staff. Perhaps, suing the manager is designed to make the manager feel the wrath of the disgruntled employee. Legitimately, it is to hold a manager to account for their conduct.
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We won't fix female super until we fix female pay, but Labor's ideas are a start
Women retire with embarrassingly little super compared to men. In 2015-16 the typical (median) Australian woman retired with A$36,000. The typical male had A$110,000. When presented as averages, the difference is less stark because a small number of big superannuation accounts push up the average. In 2015-16 the average woman left with A$157,050 compared to A$270,710 for the average man.
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Employer pays the price of employee's misuse of competitor's confidential information
A recent out of court settlement of a high profile restraint of trade case in the South Australian real estate agency industry highlights again the significant risks that businesses face if they hire an employee who has taken and misused confidential information of their former employer. Toop&Toop Real Estate (the Company), a well-known independent real estate agency, reportedly received a payment of $750,000 from Harris Real Estate after it alleged in court that its former employee Arabella Hooper had misused the company's confidential client data base, causing it to suffer a significant loss of revenue from existing client leads.
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Avoiding fatigue compliance breaches
Driver fatigue and drowsy driving is a major safety hazard for all vehicles using Australia's roads. From 2013 to 2017, more people in NSW died in fatigue-related crashes than drink driving crashes. This is somewhat unsurprising when you take into account that being awake for about 17 hours has a similar effect on performance as a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05.
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Nurse allegedly assaulted in Canberra Hospital's mental health unit
Canberra nurses have again expressed concerns for their safety inside mental health wards, after graphic photos of another alleged assault on a nurse were posted on social media. The nurses union shared the photos of what is claimed to be an assault on a nurse at Canberra Hospital's adult mental health unit with a call for "action now". The photos show cuts, bite marks and bruising allegedly made on a nurse at the mental health unit.
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Employers push for a new casual worker category but unions slam the proposal
Employers are pushing for the creation of a new category of worker that would see casual loading slashed in exchange for some leave entitlements, but unions have slammed the proposal. The NSW Business Chamber has made an application to the Fair Work Commission for a new class of employee under some awards, called "perma-flexi". The proposal would see casual loading cut from 25 per cent to 10 per cent, with employees able to accrue leave but still be rostered on only as needed.
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Queensland media company fined for underpaying young workers by $300,000
Young journalists and production staff were deliberately underpaid and exploited by a Queensland news website company, an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman has found. As a result of legal action, Touchpoint Media and director Laurence Ward have been fined $264,924 and ordered to backpay 23 staff a total $305,780 for underpayments between January 2015 and June 2016. The case went to the Federal Circuit Court after Fair Work inspectors investigated staff complaints and found that Touchpoint Media frequently underpaid or failed to pay for work performed at the company.
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19th September 2018

Social butterflies are busy bees: How workplace friendships boost productivity
If you have a good friend for a colleague you are more likely to be engaged and satisfied at work. A recent US study at Olivet Nazarene University of 3000 people in full-time jobs found the majority (41%) take a neutral view of colleagues, with smaller categories for "only-at-work" friends (20%), real friends (15%) and enemies (2%).
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The workplaces where bullies flourish
The past month in federal politics has confirmed what many of us already suspected: knowing what goes on behind the scenes at parliament is like watching sausages be made. As the expression implies, knowing all the unsavoury details about how it's done is deeply offputting. And at best, it's still a bit of a sausage fest.
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Forget 'work-life balance'. Work is life, and that's how it should be
My dear dad had three jobs most of his working life. And he worked into his 80s, even though he didn't really have to from a financial point of view. I was well enough off to look after anything he needed. Well, almost anything. You see Dad always felt that there was something that work gave him that money couldn't buy - his respect for himself as a working man.
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It's hard to make money in aged care, and that's part of the problem
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on Sunday, responding to concerns about the sector one day before an ABC Four Corners program which was to air them. Aged care is where the challenges of population ageing are most apparent and where policy choices have direct impact on the lives of Australians.
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Why yet another visa for farm work makes no sense
Rumours have circulated for months that the National Party and National Farmers Federation are pushing for a new so-called agricultural visa for temporary migrants. Now they have gained momentum, and reports indicate an announcement early next week. Details are scarce, but it seems the visa will differ from the two existing visas for agricultural workers from the Pacific - the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) - in being more flexible and also open to workers from across Asia.
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Unfair contract terms in fintech small business loan contracts
Following its review of Prospa Advance Pty Limited (Prospa) earlier this year, ASIC has announced that Prospa has agreed to change the loan terms in its standard form small business loan contract. The changes are to redress those terms considered to be in breach of the unfair contract terms provisions of the ASIC Act. Prospa has also agreed that any customer who entered into or renewed a contract from 12 November 2016 will receive the benefit of the changes.
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Australian workers are not the mathematicians they need to be, AI Group survey finds
Australian workers do not have the digital or foundation skills they need for the modern workplace, according to a report by the Australian Industry Group. The AI Group surveyed about 300 businesses and 75 per cent of them reported skills shortages, meaning they cannot find the staff they need to fill the jobs they have.
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The importance of proper training for employees
The ACT Court of Appeal (The Court of Appeal) has recently upheld a decision quashing a worker's award of damages just shy of $100,000. In the case of Jancevski v WR Engineering Pty Ltd [2018] ACTCA 34, it was for the Court of Appeal to determine whether WR Engineering Pty Ltd (Employer) provided Jancevski (Employee) with adequate training and warning following an injury which took place while an Employee was performing rectification works on an automatic panel lift garage door.
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Employee conduct outside of workplace increasingly a reason for termination
It is increasingly common for remedies to be sought by employees who have lost their jobs due to their conduct outside of the workplace. A series of recent cases have highlighted the need for employers to proceed carefully when dealing with these situations. These cases also demonstrate that such conduct can, in many circumstances, be inconsistent with employment obligations.
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Order to stop bullying made by Fair Work Commission: Management action not raised in a reasonable way
In a recent case, Application by Ms A [2018] FWC 4147, the Fair Work Commission made an order to stop bullying after it found the communication by a Body Corporate Committee Chairman towards a director of a company engaged to provide management services to a residential complex was unreasonable. B Pty Ltd was a corporate entity engaged to provide management services to a residential complex. Ms A, and her husband Mr D, were directors of that company. Mr C was the Chairman of the Body Corporate Committee for the residential complex that had engaged B Pty Ltd.
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Bunnings 'bank of hours' staffing regime triggers complaints, as hardware chain confirms review
One of Australia's major retail employers is reviewing a rostering practice that sends staff home during slow periods to make up the hours in peak times. Hardware retailer Bunnings has been implementing the practice, known as "bank of hours", across the country and is now reviewing it following a string of staff complaints. It averages out the rostered hours of part-time and full-time employees over the course of the year, with staff sent home during slow periods. They then have to make-up the hours in peak times, instead of getting overtime pay.
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Chart of the day: How bolshie are Australian workers in an era of stagnant wage growth?
One of the oddities of Australia's era of record low wages growth is it also an era of record low industrial action. The 2017/18 financial year was one of the quietest on the ABS's books for industrial disputes, with 110,000 working days lost - down 20 per cent on the previous year. There were only 164 disputes reported over the 12 months to June.
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Former Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber accused of calling women 'fat, hairy lesbians' in workplace
The Australian Greens party is facing more claims of sexism, with a former state leader accused of referring to women in the workplace as "fat, hairy lesbians", "power pussies" and "hairy-legged feminists". Former Victorian Greens party leader, Greg Barber, is also accused of having a "men's room" in his office - a meeting room that female staff members were not allowed to enter unless invited.
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5th September 2018

Workplace bullying and why the 'rough and tumble' of a job is no excuse
Politics is known for being a tough business, but multiple Liberal parliamentarians say their colleagues crossed a line during the recent leadership spill. Lucy Gichuhi has threatened to name bullies. Julia Banks referred to intimidation when announcing she was quitting politics. Kelly O'Dwyer says she knows of MPs who were threatened.
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Embracing Our Ikigai: How A Japanese Philosophy Can Transform The Workplace
In her latest guest post for B&T, the co-founder of Sydney content agency Storyation, Lauren Quaintance, (pictured below) takes a Japanese angle to a very modern take on the Aussie workplace.
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Industrial relations back in cabinet fold
Australian Industry Group has welcomed industrial relations being returned to a cabinet minister, calling it a critically important policy area. In one of his first acts since becoming prime minister, Scott Morrison put former financial services minister Kelly O'Dwyer in charge of industrial relations, elevating the role from the outer ministry.
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Keeping it casual: Casual employee entitled to annual leave
The Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has rejected WorkPac's argument that the "industrial meaning" of the term "casual employee" has been incorporated into the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) for the purpose of the National Employment Standards (NES).
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Why IBM Australia wants staff to spend more time in the office
Technology giant IBM Australia has issued a memo to staff asking them to spend more time in the office and less time working remotely in a bid to promote better connection and teamwork between its staff. IT News reports human resources executives at IBM sent a memo to employees calling for "increased teaming and physical and emotional connections" within its workforce.
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Happiness at work trumps money for most Australians
What is more important to you at work: happiness or money? If you're like me, you'll be wondering why you need to choose. And yes, I'm the first to argue that "both" is a reasonable answer in the real world. But let's say you're hypothetically forced to choose. If you're like most Australians, you'll plump for happiness.
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Getting out of a contract: When is it OK to break a promise?
During the course of a contract, circumstances can change and businesses may not get what they originally bargained for. Losing out on some deals is a reality of business. But the law, in some limited circumstances, allows parties to a contract to get out of a bad deal they have made.
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Criminal Record Discrimination: How Should Workplaces Handle Employee Criminal Histories?
The Australian Human Rights Commission recently recommended that Suncorp should pay $2,500 in compensation to an employee, who was refused a job when Suncorp became aware that he had a 10 year old conviction for accessing and possessing child pornography offences.
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Companies keep slashing jobs, but new technologies won't replace good management
As technology improves, it's tempting for company executives to slash jobs that are "standard" and "routine", making them easy to automate. But research shows focusing on improving management practices will do more to improve companies' bottom lines. In a study of 32,000 manufacturing firms, American researchers showed firms using certain management practices had 20% better productivity than firms that neglected to use them.
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Unexpected loss of contract no reason to deny redundancy pay
A Federal Court case brought by a group of cleaners against their former employer has produced an important decision on the interpretation of rights to redundancy pay under the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act). In United Voice v Berkeley Challenge Pty Limited [2018] FCA 224, Justice John Reeves heard a claim commenced by the union United Voice, on behalf of 21 cleaners, alleging that Berkeley Challenge Pty Ltd (Berkeley), a contractor of cleaning services, contravened the Act in two significant ways.
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Tightening the Chain of Responsibility - Implications for the construction sector
The new Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) will commence on 1 October 2018. The new laws will have a wide ranging impact on the construction sector, including the obligations of civil contractors. This article tells you what you need to know to finalise (or kick-start, if you are behind) your preparation for the new laws and penalties.
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29 August 2018

Directing an employee to attend an independent medical assessment
The winter months often bring an increase in employees' use of personal leave, primarily due to illness. An employee's brief and temporary absence, whether due to illness or even injury, supported by adequate medical evidence, can usually be managed by the employer without issue. However, difficulty and uncertainty arise where an employee takes extended personal leave with medical evidence that has little or no detail on the illness or injury suffered, or which offers no foreseeable return to work date.
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Are you being underpaid? Are you underpaying your staff?
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) recently conducted an audit of businesses throughout the eastern states of Australia which found that found that 72% of the businesses had breached workplace laws.[1] The audit resulted in the recovery of $471,904 for 616 workers across the 234 businesses audited. The most common breach was an underpayment of hourly rates, followed by non-existent or inadequate employment records. "72% of businesses had breached workplace laws"
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From Atlassian and Canva to Salesforce, here's the 50 best places to work in Australia
The title of being one of Australia's best places to work has again been claimed by a number of fast-growing technology companies, with the likes of Atlassian, Canva and Salesforce featuring in this year's list of the 50 great workplaces compiled by Great Place to Work Australia. The 11th annual study was dominated by local and international tech companies, with the average age of companies on this year's list being 48 years old. Of those companies, 75% of their workers are full-time, with average non-management salaries of $94,000.
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Melbourne's Barry cafe settles wrongful termination claim with underpaid worker
The owners of a Northcote cafe investigated for underpaying employees have reached a settlement with a former staff member over her wrongful termination. The settlement came hours before the former Barry cafe employee, Anna Langford, was to file an official wrongful termination complaint in court.
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The Indigenous employment gap is widening and we don't know how to fix it
The Closing the Gap framework sought to halve the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, among other targets. But the employment target expired unmet this year. In remote parts of Australia, the gap has actually widened since 2011.
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The same but different: what passengers like about Uber
Uber's dramatic rise has been accompanied by criticism, including allegations of predatory pricing and flouting of safety and employment laws. Of course the flipside of this is that Uber allows ordinary people to share and monetise the spare capacity of their assets - in this case their car. It means fewer cars on the road and extra cash for anyone who becomes an Uber driver.
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Business owners' control of their work-life balance is the fine line between hard work and hell
We live in a society in which people are trying to do more each day. Both work and life are worthy competitors for time. Yet the complex demands of modern society have redefined the notion of work-life balance. Work-life balance has different meanings for different people and is often linked to individual preferences. We interviewed franchised and independent business owners in Australia to understand their work and life priorities.
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Foodora faces claims for unpaid tax and superannuation
Australian tax authorities are chasing Foodora for unpaid tax and superannuation having classified the company's food delivery riders as employees instead of independent contractors. The Australian Taxation Office and Revenue NSW began investigating Foodora's tax obligations before the food delivery company went into voluntary administration earlier this month.
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O'Dwyer urged to focus on wages growth, IR reform
Business groups and unions will press incoming workplace minister Kelly O'Dwyer to tackle stagnant wages growth and the need for reform of industrial relations rules. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's director of workplace relations, Scott Barklamb, said the government needed to focus on jobs growth to help boost stagnant wages.
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Simplified approach to mental health too risky
The positive role that work can play in a person's life is too frequently taken for granted until work is taken away or not available. One of the main contributing factors to psychological illness is a person's relationship with work. Burnout, bullying, harassment, interpersonal conflict, role conflict, role ambiguity, under-utilisation, lack of engagement, lack of intrinsic motivation, rejection, barriers to progression, lack of recognition, injury and unsafe environments, insecurity, and work-other role conflicts and balance can all contribute to depression, anxiety and stress.
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Employee's resignation not 'forced'
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) cannot entertain an unfair dismissal claim unless the termination of employment was at the employer's initiative. In a recent decision, Davidson v Qube Logistics Vic Pty Ltd T/A Qube Holdings [2018] FWC 4481, the claimant was unsuccessful in asserting that the cessation of his employment was a dismissal attracting the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) unfair dismissal jurisdiction. The claimant alleged he was forced to resign due to the conduct engaged in by his employer by initiating an investigation into his misconduct.
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22 August 2018

How to protect your business against unfair dismissal claims
Whether you are dealing with issues of poor performance, bad behaviour or employee misconduct, it is important that as an employer, you protect yourself against unfair dismissal claims by following the correct processes when dismissing employees.
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Sexual harassment is rife, complaints are ignored and women fear for their jobs
A new survey on workplace sexual harassment has found that almost 75% of Australian women who complained to their employer were not satisfied with the outcome, with more than one in three saying they were ignored and no action was taken.
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`Why does nobody contribute?': Diagnosing and curing a serial interrupter
`I get bored when people prattle on and don't get on with it' shared a very frustrated leader. The impact of this was that meetings did get shorter - as did participation. The leader now had a new frustration and issue to manage. `No-one contributes, what are we paying these high salaries for?' This leader was a serial interrupter who held the most senior role in the organisation.
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"The best person for the job": New research highlights confusion about merit and gender equity
Who is meritorious, what constitutes merit, and how merit and gender targets can operate together are widely misunderstood questions, as our new research shows. We spoke with almost 300 public sector middle managers. The vast majority said they wanted "the best person for the job". They had less idea, however, of just who that "best person" might be.
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Could you take on your EL2 with a laser gun?
We've all been there. You're in a team meeting and the designated office keen bean suggests an allegedly fun activity. t's a team outing or perhaps an in-office delight meant to simultaneously build morale and boost productivity but all it does is make you want to chuck a sickie.
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The secrets to managing overseas postings for modern families? Start with the spouse
Skilled professionals are increasingly likely to have an equally skilled partner at home. This makes it harder for companies to fill overseas positions when the move affects two professional careers. Multinational corporations are starting to recognise and try to understand the complexities of managing talent globally. But we wondered whether they are considering the "right" scope of complexities. As an example of these complexities, and contrary to popular belief, the expatriate spouse - not the expatriate - remains the number one influence on the success of overseas postings.
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Coming out at work is not a one-off event
For many LGBTIQ+ workers coming out is a never-ending process. A recent study in the UK shows coming out at work is still a problem. Our research, to be launched in Sydney on August 27, supports this finding and further unpacks the reasons for these continuing difficulties.
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Woman calls for changes in regulatory response to industrial deaths after partner dies at work
Tanya Louth spends most nights looking for answers. It's been more than 18 months since she received the phone call that ripped her life apart, when she learned the "love of her life" and the father of her two children was never coming home from work. On January 8, 2017, her partner of 16 years, the "happy", "always smiling" Daniel Bradshaw, 37, was found floating face down in the water between the barge he lived and worked on, and the Hudson Creek wharf, near Darwin.
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When to down tools? How the weather affects our tradies
For those who work in construction, you may think that managing the weather is simple; just down tools when it is too hot or too wet. However, when there is a pay cheque on the line it is not as clear cut as this. Manu Pipitolu has been working as a renderer's trowel hand for nearly one year which has been enough time for him to feel the full effects of the weather on his work.
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Are your casual employees actually casuals?
The controversial WorkPac decision of the Full Federal Court last week (WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131) has rejected the commonly understood position that an employee designated as a casual under an award or enterprise agreement is a casual for all purposes. Employers who have treated employees as casuals on this basis risk claims for unpaid leave and termination entitlements, as well as significant penalties.
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Unfair Dismissal Update - August 2018
Recent unfair dismissal decisions of the Fair Work Commission (Commission) provide a number of lessons and reminders to employers: a number of dismissals were found to be unfair not because there was an absence of a valid reason for dismissal, but rather because of procedural and other matters under section 387 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act); out of hours conduct continues to be recognised as a valid reason for a dismissal, including in circumstances where employers operate in safety-critical industries; where mutual agreement is reached in relation to the termination of employment, employers should always carefully consider the scope and content of any 'release' sought from an employee, in order to avoid unexpected claims.
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Implied terms in employment contracts: Court of Appeal finds employment contract should not to be interpreted subject to Jewish law
The Supreme Court of New South Wales - Court of Appeal (Court of Appeal) overturned the earlier Supreme Court decision in In the matter of South Head & District Synagogue (Sydney) (Administrators appointed) [2017] NSWSC 823 (see earlier case note: Supreme Court decides employment contract dispute based on Jewish law). The case concerned a Chief Rabbi who had been employed with South Head & District Synagogue (Sydney) Ltd (the Company), which subsequently went into voluntary administration.
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15 August 2018

The "Weinstein Clause": what is it? Could it be coming to Australia?
The disturbing revelations about Harvey Weinstein and other entertainment luminaries have put sexual harassment firmly on the agenda, emboldening victims to come forward to share experiences and pursue claims, leading to the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements internationally, and #NowAustralia locally. The latest consequence of the Weinstein revelations and the #MeToo movement is the "Weinstein Clause". Bloomberg recently reported that such clauses, which relate to the behaviour of senior management of a company, are now regularly being included in business sale agreements.
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The often overlooked cost benefits of flexible employment
Flexible working has long been seen as a solid strategy for promoting the participation of women in the corporate sector. The basic thinking goes that if you end - or at least relax - the strict start and finishing times of the standard working day, while offering options for staff to take time out for personal reasons, then you'll see more women with caring responsibilities able to pursue and take up roles within these organisations.
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Family and Domestic Violence Leave: Award Changes Came Into Effect 1 August!
Changes to all modern awards, which have introduced provisions relating to family and domestic violence leave, came into effect from 1 August 2018. This change has come about due to the 4 yearly review of modern awards.
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Your colleagues are not dinosaurs - it's workplace routines that make innovation difficult
In many sectors, the disruptive changes now occurring are so major that they have been described as the "fourth industrial revolution". In response, organisations are focusing on innovation - hackathons, innovation labs and design jams are popular. Unfortunately, many innovations do not make it through to implementation. Many explanations are offered. One is change resistance, but this is oversimplified and usually inaccurate. A more nuanced view is that implementing innovations is much harder than thinking them up in the first place.
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Gender differences at work: relishing competence or seeking a challenge?
In Oceans 8, when Debbie Ocean is asked why she felt the need to organise a multi-million-dollar jewellery heist, she replies: "Because it's what I'm good at." Within the workplace, deriving genuine enjoyment from being skilled at something, and using those skills and abilities to succeed, is a very rewarding experience. This feeling, along with the jewels, is what Debbie was after.
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Ambulance Tasmania under fire from former paramedic over PTSD case handling
A former paramedic with post traumatic stress disorder says Ambulance Tasmania is failing in its duty to protect the mental health of its staff. Nick O'Brien had been a paramedic for 13 years when he was assaulted by a male patient while working the night shift in Hobart's northern suburbs in October 2015. An intoxicated man hit him so hard that it knocked out his four front teeth which were fitted with dental crowns, killing the roots of the existing teeth.
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Our workplaces are filthy and it's costing us all
The typical office desk is home to more than 10 million bacteria, 400 times more than a toilet seat. Other studies have revealed people don't wash their hands, and surfaces from taps to elevator buttons are "officially dirty". Beyond the health concerns, this has an impact on our psyche. Humans have an inbuilt disgust response to dirty environments. A clean workplace has also been shown to reduce sick days and increase productivity.
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The Fair Work Ombudsman: Expanded statutory powers, blitzes and higher penalties
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)'s proactive approach in its role of monitoring the 2.24 million active businesses in Australia has caught out a myriad of employers whose employment practices contravene the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). Expanded statutory powers of Fair Work Inspectors are being exercised to investigate, unannounced, employment practices of a wide-ranging number of workplaces and industries. In this context, and with increased scope for liability under the FW Act, now more than ever it is critical that those potentially within the FWO's sights review and assess governance structures to ensure they adequately address, and ensure compliance with, obligations arising under the FW Act.
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Men Who Advocate for Others in the Workplace Face Backlash
Back in March, a group of Hollywood elites signed an open letter asking men to take more responsibility for creating workplaces that are free of sexism. The letter was in response to the #MeToo movement that spurred people across the world to use social media to bring attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse. The letter signers pledged to act as advocates for victims and to speak out openly against sexism, thereby launching #AskMoreofHim, a movement that highlights the role that men play in preventing gender-based violence.
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CFMEU fined more than $500,000 by Federal Court for breaches of Fair Work Act
Three construction officials who deliberately broke workplace laws at sites in Queensland and Victoria have cost their union close to $577,000 in fines, in what the Federal Court has described as "disgraceful and shameful" behaviour.
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8 August 2018

Meat inspector was fairly dismissed for poor performance
A meat inspector who failed to detect and remove contamination from carcasses and generally failed to follow instructions was found to have been fairly dismissed. Deputy President Hamilton in the Fair Work Commission found in favour of the employer after hearing evidence of a number of serious breaches by the applicant in relation to his assigned duties as a meat inspector.
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Restaurant serves up unsatisfactory agreement
The Fair Work Commission has rejected a restaurant's proposed single enterprise agreement, despite the employer issuing several undertakings in its attempt to have the agreement approved.
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Award Employees entitlement to Family and Domestic Violence Leave has commenced
The model Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) Leave terms are incorporated into all Modern Awards as of 1 August 2018. This means that Award covered employees may take unpaid leave to deal with FDV matters from 1 August 2018. What is the FDV entitlement?
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Sexually inappropriate texts to co-workers a valid reason for dismissal: Co-workers not required to tell employee to stop
Sexual harassment in the workplace is currently a prevalent topic. The #MeToo campaign and the Human Rights Commission launch of a year-long harassment inquiry has brought harassment onto the centre stage. A recent case in the Fair Work Commission, Colin Ramon Reguero-Puente v City of Rockingham, considered the misconduct of an employee relating to sexually inappropriate communications with co-workers, and whether employees had to expressly tell someone to stop this conduct for it to constitute misconduct.
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Employee dismissed based on conflicting medical evidence: Commission required to make findings on employee's capacity to work
In a recent case, CSL Limited T/A CSL Behring v Chris Papaioannou, the Fair Work Commission Full Bench found that giving the final say to employers about an employee's capacity to work when there was conflicting medical evidence was "plainly wrong". The decision by the Full Bench came out of an appeal by an employer who challenged the findings of Commissioner Ryan. Commissioner Ryan found the dismissal of an employee was harsh and the employee should be reinstated. The employee was dismissed for allegedly being unable to perform the inherent requirements of his position.
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Why part-time work is the solution to our rapidly changing workforce
The UN recently told Australia it needs to up women's workforce participation, suggesting that flexible work should be enshrined in the Flexible Work Act. Brilliant! But just to be clear, if flexible work is going to have this effect, it needs to include fractional (and part-time) work. Why? Because full-time work, no matter how flexible, simply excludes huge groups of people - and most of them happen to be women.
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Flexible working becoming the norm
For those of us with workplace flexibility, it's tempting to imagine that the old-school nine-to-five working day is a relic of the 20th century. And for those whose workplaces cleave to more traditional practices, it's easy to dismiss such a notion as the feverish imagination of a pampered journalist.
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Why do so many jobs feel meaningless? Because they are
As companies' profit reporting season is upon us, it's worth asking: Does business create value these days the way it once did? In the US, one sign it doesn't is a significant decline in the formation rate of firms over the past few decades. Economists Peter Orszag and Jason Furman have argued that investment and innovation have taken a backseat to profits derived from economic rents. Political factors also increasingly appear to play a major role in driving corporate profits, as new regulations help incumbent firms, another strike against economic efficiency.
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How to improve the appeal of franchising for women
The franchise model should represent a business model of choice for women. The format has a lower risk profile, as it offers a level of perceived reassurance that the concept has been tested in the marketplace. It also minimises some of the historical disadvantages women face when entering self-employment.
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How clean is your desk? The unwelcome reality of office hygiene
If you work in an office, the chances are there are some colleagues you would rather sit next to than others. But we're not just talking personality likes or dislikes here - what can also be a factor is how clean they keep their desk. The average office desk is said to contains 400 times more germs than a toilet seat - meaning that many office workers could be at risk of sickness due to dirty desks.
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The Fair Work Ombudsman: Expanded statutory powers, blitzes and higher penalties
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)'s proactive approach in its role of monitoring the 2.24 million active businesses in Australia has caught out a myriad of employers whose employment practices contravene the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). Expanded statutory powers of Fair Work Inspectors are being exercised to investigate, unannounced, employment practices of a wide-ranging number of workplaces and industries. In this context, and with increased scope for liability under the FW Act, now more than ever it is critical that those potentially within the FWO's sights review and assess governance structures to ensure they adequately address, and ensure compliance with, obligations arising under the FW Act.
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Cricket Australia's sacking of Angela Williamson reveals perils of 'opinion creep'
Cricket Australia's dismissal of a top Tasmanian cricketing official for "making offensive comments" has received enormous media attention in Australia and overseas. In its letter to terminate the employment of public policy and government relations manager Angela Williamson, Cricket Australia cites her social media criticism of the state government's abortion and environmental policies.
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1 August 2018

New domestic violence law - how will this affect employment relationships?
The Domestic Violence - Victim Protections Bill was passed into law this week and amends the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Holidays Act 2003 and the Human Rights Act 1993. The changes come into effect on 1 April 2019 and enable victims of domestic violence to request a short-term (two months or less) variation to their employment arrangements for the purposes of dealing with the effects of being subject to domestic violence.
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Preparation for single touch payroll in Australia
Single touch payroll is effective starting from 1 July 2018 and here's what employers need to know to comply with the new reporting standard in Australia. All Australian substantial companies employing 20 employees or more are required to change the way salary and wage information are reported to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) from 1 July 2018. This policy was introduced in 1 July 2017 as part of the government's Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016.
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How to dismiss an employee - The seven key steps
Terminating someone's employment can be a challenging task for business owners and managers. A dismissal of an employee is not only personally difficult, but it can create potential legal implications if not done correctly. In our experience, one of the major concerns for employers is the prospect of litigation following an employee dismissal. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop employees from bringing claims if they are aggrieved by a dismissal, even if those claims lack merit.
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Fair Work Commission pledges better systems for SMEs in wake of Billson report, but business leaders say "much more" to be done
The Fair Work Commission has responded to former Small Business Minister Bruce Billson's report into unfair dismissal changes for SMEs by ignoring the main recommendation for a case triaging system but agreeing to a number of simplification and information access initiatives aimed at smaller players.
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The top sources of Australian job insecurity don't include robots
Not a week goes by without a news story (or a few) about people losing their jobs to robots, or the potential effects of a rapidly changing labour market. We are told repeatedly about how many jobs are going to be lost - both unskilled and skilled jobs are predicted to disappear. These risks are no doubt real, if uncertain in their magnitude. But these prognoses are largely the work of academics and economic forecasters. So, how do Australians feel about their job prospects in an age of automation?
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CBS says it is investigating misconduct allegations v CEO Leslie Moonves
New York | US broadcasting and media company CBS said it was investigating allegations of personal misconduct by its chief executive Leslie Moonves ahead of an upcoming New Yorker magazine article that is expected to detail the claims. CBS owns Network Ten in Australia.
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Promoting Workplace Compliance in Your Franchise Network
Whilst franchisors are indeed required to have a certain level of oversight with regard to the professional conduct of their franchisees, many franchisors may feel that it is unlikely that they will be held liable for actions taken by their franchisees.
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Childcare shake-up neglects family day care workers, but we can learn from garment workers' experience
The federal government has rolled out new Child Care Subsidy arrangements based on parents' earnings. Recent policy changes emphasise the need for quality childcare. To this end, policy has promoted minimum educational qualifications for childcare workers and increased reliance on market principles.
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Call for inquiry into sacking of Cricket Australia staffer
An Upper House Tasmanian MLC wants an inquiry into any role the Tasmanian Government played in Cricket Australia's sacking of Angela Williamson, who criticised the lack of abortion services in the state.
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Safety notices: Is the regulator required to show their hand?
An employer who chose not to comply with a Notice to Produce document issued by a safety regulator in Victoria has lost their final appeal to overturn a $25,000 fine. In a recent decision handed down by the Victorian Court of Appeal, the Court rejected the employer's argument that the statutory notice it was issued pursuant to section 9(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (the Act) was invalid, with the Court finding that the notice did not need to specify the provision or provisions of the Act that the employer was suspected of having breached.
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Blurring of professional and personal relationship prevents stop bullying order
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (Commission) has examined the blurred lines between professional and personal relationships within the workplace. The Commission rejected an employee's claim that her managing director bullied her through comments about her appearance, personal life, and sick leave.
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25 July 2018

Why method of dismissal needs to be reviewed by the Commission
According to a recent case of Ms Anita Cachia v Scobel Pty Ltd (2018) FWC 2648, the Fair Work Commission confirmed that employees should only be dismissed by phone, text or email in "rare circumstances". In all other instances, the decision to dismiss an employee should be communicated in person. This decision is hugely surprising given that we are in 2018; an age encompassed by an abundance of technological devices providing us with various means of communication.
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What's in a Relationship? Legal Perspectives on Office romances
Managing office romances is a difficult task, especially where the employees work together. However, there are two decisions in unfair dismissal cases which have upheld the dismissal of employees who were in a relationship with subordinates. In both cases, the Commission recognised that in those situations the employees had a duty to disclose the relationship to their employer, as the relationship gave rise to a conflict of interest.
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Why Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma avoided hiring high achievers
Sometimes the academic high achiever, or even the candidate with the best work experience, isn't the right person for the job. At least, that was Jack Ma's attitude to hiring in the early days of e-commerce giant Alibaba. In the book Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built, an excerpt of which was published in Tech in Asia, author Duncan Clark, an entrepreneur and expert on entrepreneurship in China, quotes Ma as saying he has no interest in candidates with business qualifications.
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'Delusional belief': how we think about our careers could be completely wrong
Choosing a career can be a daunting proposition. But part of the reason may be that we're looking at career paths the wrong way. That's what a growing number of experts are saying. In an article in the Harvard Business Review last week, the psychology researcher Tania Luna and the Weight Watchers International executive Jordan Cohen said modern employees are suffering from their belief in the "career myth," what they describe as "a delusional belief in the outdated idea of linear career progression."
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New Deliveroo contract shifts liability for undelivered food to riders
Food delivery service Deliveroo has given workers a week to sign a new contract that would make them liable for any food that is not delivered, even if it is not their fault. It comes days after Deliveroo told a number of workers it couldn't find their current agreements, and warned them their accounts would be suspended if they didn't sign a new agreement or submit a copy of their existing contract.
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Forty-five hours a week in meetings: Who wants to be a CEO?
What do chief executive officers do? They go to meetings, mainly. When not in meetings, they spend a lot of time on email. So CEOs are just like other people? (Other people with office jobs, at least.) Not quite. There are some areas where the 27 CEOs whose days were tracked for three months for a study just published in the Harvard Business Review stand out from regular folks.
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Sexual harassment: in the spotlight
Sexual harassment is against the law, and it has been for quite some time. Yet, such behaviour is still happening in our workplaces today. Statistics reveal that one in five women say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. About one in ten women say that they have seen such behaviour. It begs the question, why is sexual harassment still prevalent in 2018?
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Protecting Confidential Information: Termination Day
This article is the final piece in a three part series of blogs focussed on how organisations can most effectively protect themselves against employees stealing confidential information. Following on from our second blog in the series, which focussed on how to effectively protect your company's confidential information from an employee during their notice period up until their termination, this blog looks at common mistakes employers make when exiting an employee, and what to do in the event that a former employee has been found to have stolen company data, or is working in breach of a restraint of trade.
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Working four-day weeks for five days' pay? Research shows it pays off
Employees at a New Zealand company behind an innovative trial of a four-day working week have declared it a resounding success, with 78% saying they were better able to manage their work-life balance. Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts and wills, released their findings from the trial, which was prompted by research that suggests modern workers are only productive for about three hours in a working day.
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Women are dominating employment growth, but what sort of jobs are we talking about?
One of the biggest transformations we have seen in advanced economies is the increased participation of women in the paid workforce. In recent Australian labour force trends, female participation is growing at nine times the rate of men's. Women are dominating both full and part-time employment growth in Australia.
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Yet Another Man Behaving Badly - Sending Inappropriate Emails and Text Messages
A former City of Rockingham (City) employee was found to have been fairly dismissed from his employment as a senior surveyor, after the Fair Work Commission (FWC) found he had sent inappropriate emails and text messages to a number of city employees. In September 2017, two City employees made complaints that Mr Reguero-Puente had been sending them unwelcome and unsolicited emails and text messages after hours and on weekends.
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Parents of workplace accident victim back push for industrial manslaughter laws
Dave and Janine Brownlee are still waiting for answers about why their son was crushed to death at work. Jack Brownlee was trapped for three hours after the trench he was working in collapsed beneath him at a Ballarat construction site in March.
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'Small town' culture preventing women from reporting sexual harassment, anti-discrimination commissioner says
Concerns workplace sexual harassment complaints will not be kept confidential in small towns is part of the reason reports have not increased in the Northern Territory, according to the NT anti-discrimination commissioner. The rise of the #MeToo movement has seen an increase in public outings of sexual harassment, commissioner Sally Seivers said.
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18 July 2018

Uber HR exec quits after racial furore
Uber’s chief people officer has suddenly resigned from the role, following allegations she mishandled allegations of racial discrimination. Liane Hornsey resigned in an email to staff on Tuesday, after an investigation into accusations from anonymous whistleblowers that the US-based executive had systematically dismissed internal complaints of racial discrimination. Ms Hornsey was head of human resources at the ride sharing giant and one of the firm’s top spokespeople on diversity and discrimination issues.
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Bill Shorten pledge to lift pay for labour hire workers
A Shorten Labor government would review the definition of “casual” work and will set an objective test for deciding when a worker is a “casual”. Labor has already said it will also introduce a national labour hire licensing scheme to set a floor for standards and to protect workers from exploitation. It will require all labour hire companies to be licensed.
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Militant Michele O’Neil strikes a tough line as ACTU president
New ACTU president Michele O’Neil has backed union militancy, calling for greater strike rights and renewing her criticism of Labor’s asylum-seeker policy. Along with re-elected ACTU secretary Sally McManus, Ms O’Neil, the long-time left-wing textile workers union leader, will aggressively campaign for federal Labor to back the union movement’s push for significant changes to the workplace laws.
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BOM staff still sneaking in pleas for help in weather forecasts as pay dispute drags on
Workplace relations at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are cold and the forecast is for increasing frost. BOM staff have stepped up their campaign in protracted pay negotiations, hijacking the weather bureau's website and media appearances with messages about the dispute.
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WA Jobs growth dominated by part-time
Just under 60 per cent of all jobs created across the country over the past year have been full-time, with an increasing share of those going to older workers. Across all age groups women are the least likely to get a full-time job. The WA economy has been particularly affected by the surge in part-time work. Over the past year, three out of four jobs created in the State have been part-time. Seventy-five per cent of new jobs, full and part-time, have been created only in the past three months.
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Most Australian workplaces are failing to achieve diversity: study
Many workplaces across Australia are taking the wrong approach to diversity and inclusion across all levels of the organisations, as simple quotas and training modules fall short, a new study has found.
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A new skills shortage looms in Western Australia as fears of automation turns workers away
Those in the recruitment industry believe a fear of automation is having a significant impact on job choices and contributing to a skills shortage in WA.
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Australia’s Top Analytics Leaders Revealed. Get Out Your Chequebooks
They are now officially 25 of Australia’s most in-demand professionals. IAPA, the peak body for analytics professionals in Australia, has revealed what is describes as ten of the country’s top 25 analytics leaders as part of its IAPA Top 25 Analytics Leaders program. At a time when data science is one of the countries most in-demand business skills, HR managers everywhere will be firing up their LinkedIn dashboard.
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Deliveroo under fire as unions ramp up fair work campaign
Deliveroo is under fire for mistreating its workers after it lost an undisclosed number of its riders' contracts and threatened to suspend others from work.
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Everyone lies in their job application .... so can I fire them?
There is a common perception that most people lie in their résumés and job applications. Whether it be the exaggerating the seniority of a role, extending the length of time you actually worked in a particular position or describing a particular epoch as "time spent travelling" to avoid disclosing a short but ill-fated period of employment. So what rights does an employer have when it discovers that Tom never completed his degree; that Dick's referee is in fact his Mum; or that Harry was Assistant to the Regional Manager rather than Assistant Regional Manager?
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Changes To Important Employment-Related Financial Thresholds 2018
A number of employment-related monetary thresholds are indexed annually on 1 July.
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11 July 2018

How Australian companies can minimise World Cup-related sickies
The overwhelming majority (87%) of HR managers say it is likely that at least one of their employees will call in sick the day after a major sporting event, with almost a quarter (22%) calling it “very likely”. It’s inevitable a certain percentage of staff will chuck a sickie after a big World Cup game. But there is a simple way to deal with it ...
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Second #MeToo letter to accounting firm demands more action
A company partner having a consensual extramarital affair with another partner was named and shamed in a second anonymous letter sent to the most senior levels of the accounting firm
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I boarded a flight in Britain and when I landed the world had changed
The New York Times story exposing decades of sexual harassment and assault perpetrated by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had broken. These allegations set off what can only be described as an avalanche, with women around the globe coming forward to tell their own stories of sexual harassment.
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The AHRC and criminal record discrimination: A toothless tiger
The recent AHRC report into discrimination in employment on the basis of criminal record, BE v Suncorp Group Ltd [2018] AusHRC 121, has garnered significant media attention and community debate. What it serves to highlight is that the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is a "toothless tiger" when it comes to discrimination on the basis of criminal record.
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Hair and beauty salon backpays workers $25,000 but avoid penalties after signing deal with workplace watchdog
A Sydney-based beauty and hair salon has avoided paying penalties by entering into an enforceable undertaking (EU) with Australia’s workplace watchdog after admitting to underpaying seven workers more than $25,000 and failing to issue them payslips.
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Cosmetics king hit with $100k underpayment, bullying claim
Make-up mogul Napoleon Perdis and his former right-hand man are at logger-heads in the Federal Court amid claims the latter was allegedly underpaid and loaded up with personal errands. Giovanni (John) Rosiello is suing his former employer for nearly $100,000 in unpaid bonuses and other outstanding contractual payments.
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Turnbull govt under pressure over blind recruiting for APS after Liberal Council vote
The party’s peak forum for debating federal issues has reportedly adopted the policy as a way to reinforce merit-based recruitment that neither favours Anglo-Saxon and male candidates, nor provides a boost to the number of women and ethnic minorities in the workforce.
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How businesses can prepare their contact centre for a bot/AI environment
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the rapid adoption of new trends and tools in the contact centre industry. As we enter what many call the fourth industrial revolution, one technology that has gained momentum globally is artificial intelligence.
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The workplace where dads and secondary carers get 14 weeks paid leave
Medibank has issued a challenge to corporate Australia with their policy offering 14 weeks paid leave to all parents, regardless of whether they’re the primary or secondary carer. That 14 weeks of paid leave far exceeds anything on offer for secondary parents from other large employers in Australia.
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Soft skills dying out as training budgets slashed
Skills shortages aren’t just limited to technical know-how, with a lack of training leading to a chronic shortage of soft skills in the marketplace. Ben Foote, CEO of the Australian Institute of Management, suggested that many businesses are overlooking soft skills in their training budgets, and in doing so are restricting their future growth potential.
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The PageUp Data breach is still resonating
A discussion thread on Australia's largest technology forum about the ongoing effects of the PageUp data breach continues with many comments from people saying they are recieving emails from multiple employers, some of whom they can't even recall applying to
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4 July 2018

Cost of the #MeToo movement has businesses scrambling to prevent sexual harassment
Dealing with sexual harassment can be a difficult, lengthy and unavoidable cost to companies. But as organisations become aware of more subtle forms of harassment, they also find secondary costs to their businesses.
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Australia needs 200,000 more jobs to thrive in digital economy
In order for Australia to take the lead in digital skills and employment, the nation requires the creation of an extra 200,000 jobs, a new report has revealed.
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When is a contractor not a contractor?
Mistaking an employee for a contractor can devastate any business, with fines of up to A$63,000 per breach.
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Amnesty for Employers – Superannuation Guarantee Update
A limited opportunity to correct compulsory superannuation errors before heavy-handed audit activity starts
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Redesigning policy and process for enhanced transparency and compliance with new laws
Whistleblowing is often seen as a risk for boards, committees, directors and the organisation's reputation. But with a sound whistleblowing infrastructure in place, whistleblowing brings an opportunity to better understand and manage culture, allowing to solve irregularities internally, before they become uncontrollable externally.
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Protecting Confidential Information: The Notice Period
Employment relationships are just like any other relationship: the only certainty is that they will eventually come to an end - and whether an employee resigns, or is terminated, the notice period can be a risky time for businesses. Departing employees tend to be looking forward to their next positions, thus their focus and priorities often shift from looking after their employer's interests, to taking care of their own.
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New national guidance material on work-related psychological health and safety
On 14 June 2018, Safe Work Australia released its much-anticipated national guidance material on work-related psychological health and safety.
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Employer Risk Management: Misleading and deceptive conduct in recruitment
Employers intent on winning over that candidate for a role regularly unwittingly expose themselves to litigation arising from misleading and deceptive conduct. Conduct in the specific course of recruitment which is likely to mislead or deceive is prohibited by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). It is punishable by penalties of up to $1.1 million for a body corporate and $220,000 for an individual.
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Staying classy – the new trend in employment litigation
The trend towards employment-related class action litigation is continuing with the recent news that workers at BHP’s Mount Arthur Coal Mine are commencing class action proceedings against BHP subsidiaries and their labour-hire contractors alleging underpayment and misclassification of workers. The claims are purportedly valued at more than $40 million. The development of plaintiff-friendly class action reforms across a number of Australian jurisdictions has seen an increase in class actions in recent years, particularly with the implementation of Part IVA of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) and similar reforms in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
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Victorian Labour Hire Licensing Act Passed
On 20 June 2018, the Victorian Parliament passed legislation implementing labour hire licensing requirements, making Victoria the third state to do so following the introduction of similar laws in Queensland and South Australia.
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Sexual Harassment And Bullying – An Ongoing Challenge For The Modern Workplace
Australia has been alive to sexual and other express forms of discrimination since the mid-1980’s, with the establishment of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984 and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1986. Yet despite over thirty years of operation and practice, if the behaviours of senior business leaders (read top-tier lawyers), well known entertainers, churchman and politicians, to say nothing of the everyday conduct of many lower to middle management employees are to be factored in, it is clear that we are yet to learn the lessons. Given the impact on the bottom line, the question is, why have we been so utterly negligent in addressing the issue?
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An author has identified 5 categories of 'bullshit jobs' to be found in corporate Australia
Would anyone notice, or care, if your job didn’t exist anymore? At first glance, we can all come up with great reasons why we would be missed, including those uplifting jokes dropped during a coffee break. But are we really making a difference? Looking at the work done by others, most can quickly give examples of jobs that really didn’t add much to the smooth running of the business.
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27 June 2018

Queensland boss attacks “slovenly” and “toxic” employees in LinkedIn post
The chief executive of a beleaguered Queensland-based disability support charity has been criticised for reportedly abusing her employees on social media shortly after announcing the collapse of the organisation, prompting calls from experts for SME owners to be mindful of their own stress levels.
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Why do some job adverts put women off applying?
Words matter. And the way we use them in job adverts can dictate whether or not people bother to apply. This is a big problem if you're a business trying to recruit more women and ethnic minorities into your workforce. So can tech help remove these unconscious biases?
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Are personality tests like Myers-Briggs just corporate astrology?
Chances are you know your Myers-Briggs type too – or perhaps you’ve taken one of the hundreds of other personality tests on the market. You may have done a test as part of a job application, or for “development” purposes alongside team building exercises on a corporate “away-day”. But is personality testing a useful tool to better understanding yourself and others? Or is it just corporate astrology?
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World-first national inquiry into workplace sexual harassment
The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has announced a national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. “I am delighted to announce that the Australian Human Rights Commission will be undertaking this National Inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, and I commend the Australian Government on their decision to fund this work,” Commissioner Jenkins said.
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Dressed for success? The last taboos of dressing for work
There was a time in her career when Dorothy Hisgrove remembers being told not to wear pant suits and what type of pantyhose to wear. Thankfully for the now human resources manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Australia, those days are over. In 2016 PwC scrapped its formal dress codes for employees. However, Ms Hisgrove still believes dressing for work can be more complex for women than men.
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Losing our way: How the cult of the KPI has damaged our moral compass
Why did they do it? That is the question that springs to mind when trying to explain systematically bad behaviour. It was asked when recently it emerged Commonwealth Bank staff were inappropriately setting up bank accounts for children. Victoria Police pondered the same thing when its officers were found to be inflating breath test bags themselves. Both problems were so widespread that individual staff could not reasonably be punished. There are many more examples both here and overseas not least exposed at the banking royal commission. A common element, say experts, is a"set and forget" approach to key performance indicators (KPIs).
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Providers told to put a greater focus on workforce planning
Residential aged care providers are not putting enough attention on strategic workforce management initiatives despite staff being the most expensive area of the business, an industry conference heard. Human resource consultancy Realise Performance analysed and compared workforces in the aged care sector and the broader market over a 12-month period. Recruiting and retaining the right staff, managing absenteeism and workforce planning continue to be major human resource challenges for the sector, said Realise Performance managing director Chris Westacott.
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Netflix's top spokesman Jonathan Friedland fired over use of racial term in meetings
A top Netflix executive has been sacked after he used the N-word in front of colleagues on more than one occasion. Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings sent an email to employees saying he had fired the company's top spokesman Jonathan Friedland for showing "unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity".
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Insights from the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Uneasy, pessimistic, and concerned
For younger workers, the gap is widening between what responsible companies should achieve and what businesses' actual priorities are. The good news, according to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey : Business leaders have an opportunity to turn things around—and win back millennials' loyalty.
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The time is ripe for a more activist approach to industrial relations
It is becoming harder to deny that without changes to our industrial relations system, low wage growth will remain locked in. After the fight over tax, this should be the main focus of the next election campaign given even the head of the Reserve Bank, Philip Lowe, concedes the evidence is “pretty compelling” that changes in industrial relations designed to bring greater flexibility and less centralisation have contributed to our current state of record low wages growth.
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New laws and penalties for WHS breaches in QLD
There are several aspects of the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (Qld) commence on 1 July 2018.
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#MeToo report sent anonymously to senior partners of leading consulting firm
The Australian Financial Review reports almost two dozen Australian senior partners of a leading accounting and consulting firm received a report from an anonymous source which outlined what the author or authors described as ongoing tolerance of inappropriate behaviour at the organisation. It outlined alleged partner conduct at the firm including sexual harassment, bullying and extramarital affairs. There was also mention of the burgeoning #MeToo movement as it described a "boy's club" culture within the firm, with the human resources complaints process seen as ineffective by female staff.
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20 June 2018

WorkCover warns employers not to attend medical appointments for injured workers
Bosses wanting to sit in on the medical appointments of injured workers have been given notice by the WA Government regulator they are not welcome.
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Sexual Harassment and Bullying - an Ongoing Challenge for the Modern Workplace
Australia has been alive to sexual and other express forms of discrimination since the mid-1980's, with the establishment of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984 and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1986. Yet despite over thirty years of operation and practice, if the behaviours of senior business leaders (read top-tier lawyers), well known entertainers, churchman and politicians, to say nothing of the everyday conduct of many lower to middle management employees are to be factored in, it is clear that we are yet to learn the lessons.
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A valid reason to dismiss is not always enough
Having a valid reason for dismissal was not enough to save two employers from being found to have unfairly dismissed their workers in two recent Fair Work Commission (Commission) cases.
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Mothers have little to show for extra days of work under new tax changes
The federal government's new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) starts from July 2, 2018. The government has also announced personal income tax cuts. But these policies still don't stop many women facing high effective marginal tax rates - as much as 95% for those in low-income households - on income from extra days worked. This is because the extra earnings interact with policies including income tax rates, the Medicare levy and losing family benefits, combined with the net cost of child care.
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Can an employee withdraw their resignation? Do you have to accept an employee's resignation for it to be valid?
When an employee notifies his / her employer that they wish to terminate their employment, their employment will automatically terminate when the relevant notice period expires. That is, it takes effect irrespective of the employer's acceptance or rejection of the notice. Further, if an employee gives notice of his /her intention to terminate their employment, and the employer opts to take advantage of an ability to make a payment to the employee in lieu of the employee working out the notice period (for example, if the relevant employment contract allows the employer to do this), such action by the employer can only be viewed as an acceptance of the resignation.
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Office relationships: managing the hidden dangers with workplace love
Office relationships and breakups provide much gossip around the water-cooler. As we have seen in recent years, it also provides fodder for the media. Office relationships and the fall out, have the capacity to detrimentally affect decision-making, morale and reputations. Earlier this year, the Australian Parliament was embroiled with a scandal involving the Deputy Prime Minister, a staffer and their relationship. How to respond? A 'bonk-ban'. Such a "grey area", as someone intimately involved once said.
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"I'm sick ... and that's that": managing employee absences
Employees (and their unions) may sometimes hold the belief that an employer may not question their absence from work or challenge their medical certificate. "It's my right to take sick leave", they may exclaim. A manager may fear challenging this employee, and prefer to not have a difficult conversation. Maybe they have heard an Industrial Commissioner say "[w]here the certificate states that the employee will be absent on a particular date it must be assumed that the doctor found the employee incapable of working on the specified date".
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Sixth Brisbane 7-Eleven store fined for underpaying workers
A sixth 7-Eleven store owner in Brisbane has been fined more than $32,000 and his business $160,000 for underpaying staff, a Fair Work Australia investigation has revealed. It is the 10th investigation into the operations of a 7-Eleven Store and the sixth Brisbane store investigated since the underpayment of wages at the chain was raised in 2014.
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The workplace where dads and secondary carers get 14 weeks paid leave
Medibank has issued a challenge to corporate Australia with their policy offering 14 weeks paid leave to all parents, regardless of whether they're the primary or secondary carer. That 14 weeks of paid leave far exceeds anything on offer for secondary parents from other large employers in Australia.
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What is the borderline between disrespect and workplace bullying?
The borderline between disrespect and workplace bullying or harassment is when negativity becomes habitual, concentrating on one person.
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Injured before start of work hours: is compo due?
A tribunal has ruled that a man who was injured between a car park and his employer's shop, 15 minutes before work started, was entitled to compensation. A worker arrived early on 20 September 2016 at the shopping centre where he worked and parked his car in the staff car park. Taking a shortcut from the car park, he attempted to climb down a retaining wall into a laneway at the side of his employer's store. However, he lost his balance and stumbled. He sustained multiple fractures to his right ankle.
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Late night Facebook rant led to unfair dismissal
A hairdresser who was fired by her boss during a late night social media rant has won her unfair dismissal claim. On December 6 last year, the salon owner used Facebook Messenger to ask the female worker whether he had a 9am appointment the next day. When the woman didn't answer he began to threaten her with dismissal.
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Sacked: tram driver makes bad call
A tram driver who checked messages on her mobile phone while her tram was stopped at an intersection was validly dismissed for breaching company rules, according to the Fair Work Commission.
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13 June 2018

Blame PageUp breach on security industry
Recent revelations about the data breach affecting human resources management platform PageUp highlighted that persisting with the traditional signature-based approach to endpoint protection is like installing an alarm system after a burglary. While you might be protected against the same attack in the future, it’s not an effective means of preventing data losses caused by increasingly advanced and unknown cyber threats. This is not news to many security professionals. But unfortunately, many businesses have been quite seriously misinformed by the security industry over a long period.
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PageUp breach scare prompts class action prospects
Sydney-based law firm Centennial Lawyers is investigating the prospects of a class action against Australian human resources software vendor PageUp, after it flagged a potential breach of clients’ data following a malware hit earlier this year. Telstra, Jetstar and the Tasmanian Government are among several local organisations to have temporarily suspended their use of the PageUp platform, while Australia Post warned employees that their personal information may have been compromised. Now, Centennial Lawyers has said it is reaching out to job seekers and employees of more than 15 companies as it explores the prospect of a class action against PageUp over the potential breach.
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Food delivery company Foodora facing “unquestionably significant” legal action over alleged sham contracting
Food delivery startup Foodora has been accused of sham contracting and worker underpayment by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) in a case that has been called “unquestionably significant” for the future of Australia’s gig economy.
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What makes managers happy or unhappy at work?
We intuitively know that a “happy worker is a good worker.” But what about their bosses? In the modern workplace, managers are accountable to several groups of people, from rank-and-file employees on one side, to chief executives and shareholders on the other. How well they juggle these conflicting pressures can determine not only their performance at work, but also how happy they are while doing it. Research funded by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and featuring interviews with managers from a range of sectors, is the first to ask specifically what makes managers happy or unhappy at work.
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Workplace culture: The first line of information security defence
The most underappreciated threat to any business, large or small is its own people. That’s not to say that a business’s employees are out to get them or maliciously steal from the company, but a workplace culture that is lax with security, that does not encourage staff to be vigilant and does not evangelise for security beyond the security or IT teams is the single biggest threat to a company’s ongoing security. Unfortunately, culture isn’t the type of thing you can make changes to and expect an immediate impact or response – it takes time. There however are a few steps that any business can take in ensuring that security is taken seriously.
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How much progress have we actually made when it comes to women on boards?
“You women are taking all our jobs.” This comment was delivered to me by a senior corporate male a few years ago. I was interviewing him as part of a research project on gender equity. The first part of the interview was conducted with his back to me. An unforgettable experience. So, how far have we come in terms of gender equity in the workplace now that it’s 2018? In terms of women on boards, I do believe we have come some way.
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Managers are important, but aren’t the biggest reason why people leave
Your business is only as successful as your people; it’s a sentiment we hear time and time again. Last year, SmartCompany research revealed that 67% of business owners admitted to making mistakes when hiring. Given the potentially devastating impact that hiring the wrong person can have on a small business’s bottom line — not to mention the immeasurable cost of missing out on a superstar employee — that’s a concerning statistic. In this Q&A piece, Culture Amp’s director of people practices Christian Miran busts common myths about employee retention and offers advice on how you can attract and retain the best talent to drive and grow your business.
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Uber and Airbnb: Who really benefits in the 'share economy'?
The share economy is a façade that allows companies such as Uber to flaunt social values at the cost of fair wages, writes Sochanda Thach. With rising concerns about sustainability and wastage, today’s generation looks to the sharing economy as a norm rather than a trend. People are moving away from hyper-consumerism and towards collaborative consumption — but can we actually call the sharing economy "sharing"?
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'Tortuous' language in industrial awards needs to go, says Fair Work boss
Australia's complex awards system is a real barrier to workers being paid properly by small businesses, the head of Australia's industrial relations umpire says.
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Is It Legal To Terminate An Injured Worker?
“You’re terminated!” They’re the two words nobody, under any circumstances, ever wants to hear or receive in writing. The flow-on effect from losing a job can be catastrophic – potentially leaving you financially unstable, emotionally insecure and contemplating your worth in the workforce. Yes, there’s never a good time to receive this news, but imagine being terminated when you’re physically incapacitated and incapable of completing the tasks you love or are trained to perform. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many Australians every year who suffer a workplace injury and require medical aid and time off. Is this legal?
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6 June 2018

Bank details, TFNs, personal details of job applicants compromised in major PageUp data breach
PageUp, which boasts 2 million active users across 190 countries, posted a statement from chief executive Karen Cariss on their website, saying they had noticed "unusual activity" in their IT infrastructure on May 23. The company has launched an investigation, while their client companies also released emergency statements to their employees and candidates who had applied for jobs using PageUp's software.
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Digital Transformation Is Critical To A Great Employee Experience
If you think about it, many of the things we take for granted in our workplaces, that are delivered by Human Resources (HR) departments are point solutions that fulfil specific needs but don't often work all that well together. On-boarding processes bring staff into a company, there are training and development programs and a bunch of processes we need to follow that we might only access very rarely. How do those things hang together to create a great workplace experience? Digital transformation in HR is emerging as a key tool for improving employee satisfaction.
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How to manage the challenges of an ageing workforce
The effects of Australia's ageing workforce are expected to be so pronounced that the government has budgeted for retraining, but what can human resources do?
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It's not (just) about the money, millennials say
In a time when tales of corporate greed and misconduct abound, is it any wonder young people's confidence in business ethics has plunged? This year's annual Deloitte Millennial Survey shows Generation Y's opinion of business motivation and ethics is at the lowest point in three years.
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Why you still need human contact in a digital business world
In today’s digital world it’s easier to connect than ever before. This is great news for small business owners who need to find products and services and ‘meet’ other owners through networking activities on online forums and groups – but does that mean human contact is redundant? Absolutely not.
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When a picture really is worth 1000 words – The "comic (employment) contract"
In an age when the most popular form of communication is limited to 280 characters, it is unsurprising that the public’s tolerance for dense, overly complex legal contracts is in decline. It now appears that the process of simplification that began with the “plain English drafting” ethos is about to take the next step, with the rise of the visual narrative contract, or “comic contract”.
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How diversity can help business go from good to great
Workplace diversity seems to be a buzzword at the moment, but do we really understand what it means? People often think conversations about diversity are just code for gender equality issues. It’s true gender differences that manifest in pay gaps and lack of flexible work options are urgent matters, but real diversity and inclusion is also much broader. Few leaders understand the implications and benefits of harnessing its power.
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FWC fines employer over $22k for inflexible refusal of Pilates classes
In commentary that is particularly fitting for the story behind it, the FWC has found an employer was unreasonably inflexible when it dismissed an employee who had requested to finish work 15 minutes early to attend prepaid Pilates classes. In Khutson v Chesson Pty Ltd T/A Pay Per Click [2018] FWC 2080, the employee argued that her dismissal was unfair because she refused to sign a revised employment contract that, amongst other things, had sought to change her working hours such that she would be unable to attend Pilates classes that she had already paid for.
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Aussie employers encouraged to hire refugees
Australian employers are demonstrating a keen willingness to take on refugees but are struggling to know how to reach and onboard them, a prominent university has claimed.
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Why Medibank lends out its best staff to foster innovation
John Goodall heads technology and operations at one of Australia’s largest private health insurers, Medibank. To encourage fresh thinking, he’s preparing to share some of his employees with those from a major technology team in a different industry. Goodall’s willingness to look outside his organisation is an example of the openness that characterises the best innovation leaders.
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Home offices and work claims on the ATO’s hit list this July
From home office expenses to income from sharing economy platforms, the Australian Taxation Office looks to be casting its net wide when it comes to areas of focus during 2018 tax time. Work-related expenses will be front and centre this July, with the office signposting numerous times over the past year that it will be tracking everything from home office claims to car use and deductions made for work uniforms and clothing.
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Check your timesheets – in excess of $120,000 in penalties for employer who failed to keep time and wages records
Employers face increased penalties for failing to keep proper records as a result of recent changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) through the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 (Cth). The case of Fair Work Ombudsman v Pulis Plumbing Pty Ltd & Anor serves as a warning to employers that a failure to comply with employee records obligations not only leads to significant penalties, but means that employers are unable to disprove employee allegations about underpayments.
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30 May 2018

Australian business is unprepared for the 2018 Modern Slavery Act
Deloitte spoke to more than 1000 individuals across multiple organisations, but found senior CSR people were underestimating the likelihood of problems to deal with and report on in their modern supply chains.
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Union wants jail, multi-million dollar fines for workplace deaths
One of the state's biggest unions has called on the McGowan government to follow a Victorian Labor party commitment and introduce 20-year jail sentences and multi-million-dollar fines for employers who fail to prevent workplace deaths. On Saturday Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced they would introduce industrial manslaughter legislation if relected in November.
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Back to basics - Assaults in the workplace and the importance of having a reliable witness - Australian legal update
This article explores the case of Eastment v State of Queensland [2017] QDC 201, which centers on an assault in the workplace and also highlights the importance of having a reliable witness at trial. Mr Eastment's case is predicated on the occurrence of an event on 6 March 2009 (two days prior to the assault).
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The risk from within: employee fraud & theft
With high profile news stories about data theft and cyber-attacks, business is properly focused on managing risks from these external sources. As a result, less attention can be paid to risks from within the business. Bartier Perry explains the risks. An obvious risk is that posed by employees, who, for whatever reason, decide to do the wrong thing and take from the business.
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Superannuation is still mired in the same old issues, and no one is going to fix your nest egg but you
The Productivity Commission's latest report on superannuation asks whether the current system is working for members - and answers firmly in the negative. The report identifies four factors that can chip away at super fund members' retirement benefits.
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Young people, not employers, should choose super fund: Productivity Commission
Young people entering the workforce should choose their own superannuation fund, rather than the present system of their employer selecting the fund for them, according to a Productivity Commission report released on Tuesday. It recommends that these workers should be given a "best in show" shortlist set by a "competitive and independent process."
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How parenthood continues to cost women more than men
New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is about to become a first-time parent next month, and her partner, Clarke Gayford, will set an example by becoming a stay-at-home dad. But Jacinda and Clarke's plan is still the exception rather than the rule. Mothers tend to take more time than fathers away from their careers when they have children, and they pay a significant price.
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Billionaire Jack Cowin calls for government inquiry into "gig economy" food companies Uber Eats, Foodora and Deliveroo
One of the richest businessmen in Australia is calling on the federal government to launch an investigation into the employment practices of food delivery platforms including Uber Eats, Foodora and Deliveroo. While numerous small business owners have spoken out about the problems they've experienced when using Uber Eats for their business, Jack Cowin says there needs to be an "equalisation" between how gig economy platforms and other businesses pay workers.
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Hairdresser wins unfair dismissal claim after Facebook Messenger conversation with boss "spiralled out of control"
In a decision before the Fair Work Commission last week, a hairdresser was held to have been unfairly dismissed after an exchange with her boss over Facebook Messenger where he aggressively turned on her. The employee (JLM) and her boss (CT) regularly conversed outside of hours on Facebook messenger. On 6 December 2017, however, their exchange "spiralled out of control".
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Are top chief executives actually worth it?
You've worked hard to get where you are, therefore you're entitled . to what? Does it depend on what and how you deliver? An interesting survey of the top 50 chief executives looks at people who have delivered the best results for their respective companies over the long term. We are talking in terms of months, even years in Warren Buffett's case; through his prudent and steady development of Berkshire Hathaway, he has proven himself a superior chief executive and investor.
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Victorian Government vows to crack down on wage theft, with penalties of up to 10 years in jail
Victoria's Labor Government has promised to introduce laws targeting employers who underpay their workers, with penalties of up to 10 years in jail. The new laws, which were announced at this weekend's Labor Party conference, would also introduce fines of almost $200,000 for individuals and almost $1 million for companies that deliberately withhold wages, fail to pay superannuation or other entitlements, or do not keep proper employment records.
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23 May 2018

When is swearing in the workplace a basis for dismissal?
Numerous recent cases have considered swearing in the workplace. But when the decision at first instance in Gosek v Illawarra Coal Holdings Pty Limited T/A South32 (Gosek) was handed down by Commissioner Riordan late last year, there was a media frenzy, followed by widespread criticism of the decision.
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4 things you need to know about paying a salary under an award
Many employers incorrectly assume that where they are paying an employee a salary, they are simply not covered by an award. Given the strict consequences for employers who fail to pay staff correctly under an award, it's critical that employers understand their obligations.
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Why we need to rethink the concept of work
With so many women now in the workplace and feminism's early victories (it's been over a century since women were first given the vote, more than half a century since the advent of the Pill, and there's at least 50% female graduation in today's university courses), you'd think that old glass ceiling would be badly wobbling by now.
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It's time for a revolt on CEO pay
It's time to rethink CEO pay, but not in the way you imagine. Yes, CEO pay is extreme. Some might even call it excessive. And from a social equity perspective, I agree. But that's not the only - and probably not even the most important - reason that we should reconsider how we remunerate those who sit at the top of the corporate tree.
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Why your open plan office is like a nudist beach
In the #MeToo era, an open-office environment might seem like the perfect solution for fixing the sexual harassment that can take place behind closed office doors. If there are glass walls everywhere, and no one has doors or even plastic partitions to reserve any sense of privacy, groping and sexual advances might be harder to get away with.
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Why work when you can procrastibake?
All procrastibakers do not bake alike. Procrastibaking - the practice of baking something completely unnecessary, with the intention of avoiding "real" work - is a surprisingly common habit that has only recently acquired a name. Medical students, romance writers, freelance web designers: Almost anyone who works at home and has a cookie sheet in the cupboard can try it.
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Pictorial Employment Contracts – a legitimate craze, or just plain crazy?
As part of its focus on innovation, global engineering and advisory company Aurecon is introducing a visual employment contract, effectively eliminating the bulk of the text from their employment contracts by using pictures to accompany the contract's wording. As reported in the Australian Financial Review, this is the first time that an Australian company has introduced this type of visual employment contract.
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Company boards are stacked with friends of friends so how can we expect change?
Social connections drive board appointments and more than two-thirds of directors in the 200 largest public companies are on the board of multiple companies. So whoever replaces ex-AMP chairwoman Catherine Brenner will likely be drawn from a small pool of people.
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This is why everyone steals office supplies from work - including you
Have you ever taken office supplies home? Stole some pens and paper from your employer for your kids' arts and crafts class? Used the office printer to print personal concert tickets? In a recent anonymous survey by Papermate as part of the launch of a new pen, 100 per cent of office workers admitted to have stolen a pen at work. Other academic researchers have reported that up to 75 per cent of employees admitted to stealing office supplies in the past year.
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Forcing immigrants to work in regional areas will not boost regional economies in the long run
As politicians raise concerns about immigration straining infrastructure and public services in Australia's state capitals, the federal government is considering the idea of binding immigrants to particular regional and rural areas.
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16 May 2018

Tribunal won't be drawn into making conclusions on 'reasonable administrative action' without sufficient and direct evidence in support
Mr Gary Want was a public servant who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for 12 years. From 2006 to September 2014, Mr Want was employed at the Department of Defence in an Executive Level 1 (EL1) position at a variety of locations. A lack of direct evidence on whether condition would not have arisen in absence of reasonable administrative action (RAA) prohibited the decision maker from applying the RAA exclusion.
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Five ways to become a better listener
Few of us like to admit we're poor listeners. The truth is, in our distracted society, most people are not particularly good at listening, and a vital tenet in human evolution is slipping away, unnoticed, as we become busier and paradoxically less focused. Any conversation or meeting is going to be fairly unproductive without good listening and questioning. Listening is what helps us focus, every bit as much as our other senses do, when we choose to use them. And questioning helps us find out more.
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Major supermarkets investigating worker claims of 'slave' conditions at major flower supplier
The country's three biggest supermarket chains have said they will investigate claims made by workers of exploitation and bullying at a major national flower supplier. Lynch Group is the largest flower wholesaler in the southern hemisphere and supplies flowers to Coles, Woolworths and Aldi stores around the country. The ABC first revealed claims of "sweatshop" working conditions at the Australian warehouses of Lynch Group in March.
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Unions watchdog gets funding boost, but fair wages enforcer misses out
The national unions watchdog has received an $8 million boost while funding for the organisation that polices wage theft has been frozen. The Fair Work Ombudsman's budget was shaved slightly in Tuesday night's budget from $110.464 million in the current financial year to $110.009 million this coming year. The funding freeze comes as the Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James lashed out at a "completely unacceptable" and "disturbing culture" of underpayment in the hospitality industry in the wake of a $300,000 fine for a Melbourne burger joint operator.
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Union movement can't afford to waste goodwill of 'staggering' march
Staggering. Getting 100,000 people on to the streets of Melbourne to protest against Australia's workplace laws shows there's still some life in the once-mighty union movement. In fact it is gaining strength every day. It is fundamentally winning the debate over workplace relations against weak and ineffectual business groups and interests that have failed to counter its arguments.
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'Fascinating test': Uni student, NAB locked in pay dispute
A student is taking legal action against NAB for failing to pay him for 12 months of work he did as part of a university job placement program. Daniel Stuart is claiming $80,833.83 for lost wages and superannuation in a statement of claim he has lodged with the Federal Circuit Court. He is claiming that he worked for the bank for a year in Melbourne as an employee and not as part of an unpaid vocational placement.
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The Gig Economy: the good, the bad and the downright unregulated
"This is Airtasker. Just post your task you need help with, choose the right person for the job and wait for the task to be done." But what happens when the task isn't done, what happens when you no longer feel `Like a Boss' and start to feel `at a loss' because what you had contracted for was not what was received? This is the first of a two part series focussing on the gig economy and its key stakeholders; the job poster or person requesting the services and the service provider.
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Introducing the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa and the Global Talent Scheme Pilot
On 18 April 2017, now Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, together with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, made a surprise announcement that the popular 457 visa would be abolished by March 2018, and replaced with a new visa in an effort to "put Australians first". Since the announcement, information about the new Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) ('TSS') visa has been scarce, leaving many employees currently on 457 visas feeling uncertain about their future. The legislative requirements of the new TSS visa were finally released on 18 March 2018.
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What it's like to be a `black economy' worker
Nina, not her real name, works for a cleaning company that sends her into private homes, in exchange for about $20 per hour, cash-in-hand. She's had numerous cash-in-hand jobs over the past few years. She used to work in restaurants where the pay was around $12 per hour. She told me she does it quite simply "for the money".
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Australia's stolen wages: one woman's quest for compensation
Bigali Hanlon is a Yindjibarndi woman born in 1940 at Mulga Downs in Western Australia. At the age of six, she was taken from her mother and sent to live in a church-run hostel for "fair-skinned" indigenous children. She lived there until she was 13, when she went into indentured domestic service. As in many other cases, wages were paid - but never to Bigali.
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Research check: we still don't have proof that cutting company taxes will boost jobs and wages
Simply comparing companies that receive a tax cut with those that don't isn't the right methodology to conclude that the 2015 tax cuts created more employment or higher wages. Cutting taxes lets companies keep more of their profits, allowing them to invest in new equipment and premises for example. The company then needs to hire more workers to work with these new assets. The newly created jobs require businesses to compete for workers and this increased demand pushes up wages across the entire economy.
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Labour market testing guidelines for sponsoring overseas workers
If your business sponsors overseas workers, or may need to sponsor overseas workers in the future, you need to understand the new labour market testing requirement. Labour market testing is a type of application criteria which means, you must satisfy the minimum requirements before submitting the employer nomination application. Failure to satisfy these minimum requirements will cause delays and can become a problem in circumstances where your business has an urgent role to fill, or you are wanting to nominate an overseas worker with an upcoming visa expiry.
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9 May 2018

The importance of establishing internal procedures for dealing with inappropriate and unwelcome contact in the workplace
On 18 April 2018, in the decision of George Talevski v Chalmers Industries Pty Ltd [2018] FWC 1807, the Fair Work Commission dismissed an unfair dismissal application made by a long-serving handyman. He had been dismissed by a transport company for serious misconduct that included repeatedly touching a young receptionist, threatening and abusing the company's Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and failing to provide a response to the allegations of serious misconduct.
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How to handle the person you hate in the office
Once upon a time, long before I lived the freelance life, I worked in an office, your run of the mill 9-5er. It was in a regular job, with regular hours and I had a regular work nemesis. Steven* sat opposite me and from the moment he started, we didn't get along. He made it his mission to point out everyone's mistakes (except his own), signed off emails with "Thanking You Muchly" and drove to work in a car with the number plate 2FAST4U.
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Teachers' core job swamped by paperwork
School teachers and principals are "drowning in paperwork", costing them critical time for preparing classes and threatening their core job of educating children, research has found. A University of Sydney study of more than 18,000 public school teachers and principals across NSW found 97.3 per cent reported an increase in administration duties over the past five years. More than 95 per cent were spending more time on analysing and reporting data.
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Tigerair pilots call off industrial action after wage deal breakthrough
Tigerair pilots have called off industrial action that could have caused flights to be delayed or cancelled this weekend after a breakthrough in wage negotiations with the airline. Members of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and fellow union VIPA had threatened a range of protected actions that would have disrupted services starting Friday morning after bargaining over a new wage deal hit a deadlock.
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More empty desks, less office space as government cuts building stock
The public service had 4600 more empty desks last year despite a push to reduce vacant space in its buildings. Nearly 26,000 desks sat empty in 2017 as the government reported agencies faced a lag between falling staff numbers and the chance to renegotiate leases to cut their office space. The increase went against the trend in new figures from the Finance Department's latest report on occupancy in public service offices, which showed the government has continued to cut its floorspace since 2014.
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Who is responsible for safety in a gig economy?
Safety in the `gig economy' is again making headlines, with Unions NSW taking on Airtasker once more as a source of potential unsafe work practices.
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Motivating millennials in the workplace
This week, we tap the expertise of Boris Joaquin and Renz Mansujeto, for some insights on how to motivate millennials, a favourite topic of older generations. After all, millenials (or the generational cohort between 1980-2001) are dominating the workplace. THey are now the largest generation in the workforce.
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NFL agrees to meet with lawyer of former cheerleaders to discuss workplace discrimination
The NFL has agreed to meet with the lawyer representing two former cheerleaders who recently filed discrimination claims against the league. "As we said before, our office is working with the clubs in sharing best practices and employment-related processes that will support club cheerleading squads within an appropriate and supportive workplace," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an email.
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Ex-detective Denis Ryan wins compensation decades after being pushed out of Victoria Police
A former detective, who was financially and professionally ruined by his own superiors for trying to bring a paedophile priest to justice, will receive compensation almost 50 years after he was pushed out of Victoria Police. Denis Ryan gave up his police pension when he chose to resign from the force after being ordered to drop his investigation into Monsignor John Day, a Catholic paedophile priest who preyed on children in the Mallee.
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ANZ HR leaders lagging behind global leaders in tech adoption
A new research report from tech giant ServiceNow (The New CHRO Agenda: Employee Experience Drives Business Value), reveals that HR leaders in Australia and New Zealand are falling behind their international peers when it comes to technology adoption to improve experiences at work.
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Why we should blame incentive pay for bad behaviour in fin services
Those outraged about the bad behaviour inside our financial institutions have largely focused on individuals and paid scant attention to the real culprit plaguing our companies: a rampant incentive culture. Voices in the investment and human resource communities have pleaded with companies to implement more sustainable approaches to remuneration and managing human capital generally.
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LGBT employees face hurdles at home and abroad
Relocation to countries where homosexuality is illegal may leave LGBT employees at risk of arrest and harassment. In those places where same-sex relationships and parental rights of LGBT parents are not recognised, it can create formidable challenges for accompanying partners and children.
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2 May 2018

Can your boss sue you for fighting for proper wages?
A Melbourne cafe made headlines last week for alleged underpayment of staff and threats to sue. It may be common in hospitality, but what laws are at play here? It was revealed that employees at Barry were underpaid by around $5/hour and didn't receive any penalty rates.
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"Unsophisticated employer": Fair Work rules Perth company unfairly dismissed worker it made `redundant'
The Fair Work Commission has been highly critical of the human resources practices of a Perth tradie directory platform, finding it unfairly dismissed its account manager when it claimed it had to make her redundant because the business was struggling to "keep up with its creditors". The worker claimed she had been unfairly dismissed because not only did her boss fail to consult with her about possible redeployment options, another staff member was also hired to do parts of her role.
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Casual workers call for job security at union rally
When Clare Southerton booked tickets to attend a conference in Rome as part of her work as a sociologist at the Australian National University, she paid her own way in order to further her career. If she was a permanent staff member, she'd be able to apply to university schemes to fund the travel that's an important part of sharing her research. Not having access to funding in order to present research is just one of the many hidden costs of increasing levels of casualisation, especially in the tertiary education sector, Ms Southerton said.
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How the federal budget can help insecure workers
Aussies are also often increasingly opting to work casual and part-time. To pursue business ideas, to study, to enjoy life! More than 4 million Australians, one-third of the population, did some freelancing in 2014 and 2015, says the Australian Industry Group. Next week's budget needs to help participants in this new (not) employment world - and the individuals also need to help themselves.
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The big four accounting firms struggle to shake their sexist pasts
In many ways, the big four accounting firms - Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) - have influenced how we work, how we manage, how we invest and how we are governed. Apart from their staff, the brands themselves are the big firms' most valuable assets. The value of those brands is grounded in the firms' histories. But looking into their past reveals many stories of discrimination that the firms may have to face up to to re-brand their future.
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Half a million calls from small business reveals strong demand for online support
The Fair Work Ombudsman has today launched its Small Business Showcase, a virtual hub providing a wealth of resources for small business owners seeking information about their workplace obligations. Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James is urging small business owners to participate in the showcase to ensure they're up-to-date with their obligations under workplace law. "Australia's workplace relations system is complex and can be hard to navigate, particularly for time-poor small and family businesses," Ms James says.
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Queensland electrical contractor faces legal action over alleged failure to pay compensation
A Queensland electrical contracting company is facing court for allegedly ignoring a Fair Work Commission order to compensate an employee who was unfairly dismissed. The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against Logan City Electrical Service Division Pty Ltd and the company's sole director, Peter Burnitt, in the Federal Circuit Court. The employee contacted the Fair Work Ombudsman seeking assistance after the compensation amount was not paid.
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Melbourne cafe owner threatens to sue staff, who claimed they were underpaid, for 'harassment'
A Northcote cafe owner accused of underpaying staff has threatened to sue those who complained "if the harassment continues". Current and former staff of Barry cafe in Northcote told the ABC they had been underpaid by at least $5 an hour, and that when they complained to the cafe's owners, some workers had their shifts cancelled. The office of the Fair Work Ombudsman has confirmed to the ABC it is now investigating those claims.
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Ombudsman calls for simplification of workplace relations for small business
Today the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, released a position paper that identifies some simple steps to tackle the overly complex workplace relations system for small businesses. "We have had significant consultations with small businesses over the last two years and the overwhelming view is the legislation is far too complicated for the majority of Australian businesses with less than 20 employees and no expert HR or legal departments," Ms Carnell said.
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Migrant Workers' Taskforce to continue to protect vulnerable workers
The Australian Government today announced a six-month extension of the Migrant Workers' Taskforce so that it can continue its important work to protect migrant workers in Australia from workplace exploitation. It will continue to consult widely on suitable policy responses and remedies to the issue of workplace exploitation, and will provide a final report with recommendations to the Government in late 2018.
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Twitter Cost Me My Job - The Risks of Discussing Employment Online
The recent decision of Banerji and Comcare (Compensation) [2018] AATA 982 is an interesting case on the issue of discussing employment online. By now it should be obvious that bagging your employer in this way (be that Facebook, Twitter, or a blog) can cost you your job. There are numerous cases of employees ranting online, either using their real name or with poorly considered pseudonyms (almost as bad as @notmbaldwin). The inevitable outcome when this comes to the attention of employers is termination of employment.
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25 April 2018

Aussie SMEs dominate best places to work in Asia thanks to their `high-trust cultures'
Australian SMEs have dominated a list of Asia's best small and medium workplaces, produced by Great Places to Work.
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How fears can hold you back at work
Fears drive our behaviours and are often the reason for our decisions and actions at work.
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Nearly half of young people injured at work: Unions ACT report
Workplace injuries are common among young people and most workers under 25 have been bullied or harassed on the job, a new survey by the ACT's peak union body says.
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Why employers don't hire smart women
New research has confirmed what many women already know: bosses want smart people working for them, but only if they're male.
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CFMMEU fined more than half a million dollars for unlawful strikes
The newly merged construction and maritime super union has been fined more than half a million dollars for a series of unlawful strikes on nine Brisbane sites.
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Fair Work Commission ticks off new Coles pay agreement
A three-year dispute over pay and conditions for 80,000 Coles workers across the country has been finally settled with the Fair Work Commission's approval of a contentious new agreement with unions.
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Something smelly, perhaps loud ... but nothing to see: what am I?
The Victorian Supreme Court recently had to hear a case about, amongst other things, farting at work.
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Defining Managerial and Directorial Roles and Can These Employees Make Unfair Dismissal Claims?
This blog takes a look at a number of factors that must be considered when trying to define a managerial, or directorial role within a business.
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Abbott suggests sacking bank regulators as ASIC feels the heat
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has strongly condemned the performance of financial sector regulators, suggesting they should be sacked and replaced by "less complacent" people.
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High Court rejects Valve's special leave request to appeal $3 million fine
In 2016, the trial judge found that Valve had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by making representations about customers' rights in Steam's terms and conditions and refund policy.
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A recent case has highlighted the importance of keeping detailed employee records in cases of dismissal.
The issue which required consideration was whether the redundancy was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. The Commissioner considered whether there was a valid reason for dismissal, specifically, whether the Employer was unable to fulfil the inherent requirements of his role.
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Australian companies take note: You could be liable for failing to prevent your associates from engaging in foreign bribery
Australian companies who conduct business abroad need to be aware of the imminent substantial change to the law regarding foreign bribery offences.
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Could you be fined for failing to train staff in using Excel correctly? A recent UK decision provides a salutary lesson
A recent decision of the UK Information Commissioner has highlighted the risks for businesses who share information using Excel spreadsheets.
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18 April 2018

Who is covered by the Queensland labour hire licensing regime?
On Friday 6 April 2018, the Queensland Parliament published regulations that clarify the scope of the regime and the information that must accompany an application for a labour hire licence.
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Jail time and seven figure penalties for WHS breaches
In Souz v CC Pty Ltd [2018] QSC 36, an underground mine worker sustained a serious neck injury when the loader he was driving collided with a steel roof beam.
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Starbucks to close 8,000 stores for anti-racism training
Starbucks, moving swiftly to confront a racially charged uproar over the arrest of two black men at one of its stores in Philadelphia, plans to close more than 8,000 US stores for several hours next month to conduct racial-bias training for nearly 175,000 workers.
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More than a third of truck drivers surveyed feel more pressured
Facing assault rifles in an armed robbery was not supposed to be part of the job.
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Women more likely to be perfectionistic, anxious at work
These are the results of Australia's Biggest Mental Health Check-In, a snapshot of mental health at all levels of corporate life in Australia.
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Migrant underpaid 93 weeks' pay, worked seven days and took rubbish home
A migrant worker who was underpaid the value of 93 weeks' wages over four years worked seven-days-a-week without time for lunch breaks or getting sick so he could support his family.
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Employable Me has struck a chord but will it change employers' attitudes to disability?
"I'm glad you can make use of my weapons grade autism", laughs Jonathon in the ABC TV series Employable Me. He has landed a competitive paid internship, channelling his passion for accountancy. As well as a love of numbers, he has a wicked sense of humour and a way with words.
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Precarious employment is rising rapidly among men: new research
Precarious employment is increasing over time, and it still remains higher for women than men in Australia. But over the last nine years it has increased far more rapidly among men.
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Accepting a distressed employee's resignation may be a dismissal
The Commissioner found that the applicant "was dismissed on the employer's initiative and in satisfaction of the meaning of dismissed" provided by the section referred to earlier.
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A new era for employer sponsorship
On 18 March 2018, we said goodbye to the subclass 457 visa and hello to the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS).
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How technology is shaping human resources
Like any area of a business, human resources are undergoing digital transformation and reacting to new forms of employment, such as remote working and the adoption of artificial intelligence.
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11 April 2018

Whistleblower bill - ".a move in the right direction"?
The Australian Government's proposed whistleblowing laws are one step closer to becoming reality, with the Senate Economics Legislation Committee (the Committee) recommending that the Treasury Laws Amendment (Whistleblowers) Bill 2017 (the Bill) be passed.
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The M&A Boom: How Technology Helps to Harmonize
An effective benefit management technology program can help alleviate the stress of consolidation both on HR teams and employees brought on by a merger or acquisition.
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SEEK and OneVentures back $8 million round for HR start-up Employment Hero
Australian human resources technology start-up Employment Hero has closed an $8 million funding round, led by SEEK and OneVentures, as it looks to build out its executive leadership team, ahead of expansion plans.
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How our peers influence our superannuation decisions
Just as our peers can influence what movies we go to or where we go on holiday, our research suggests that Australians' superannuation investment decisions are influenced by our work colleagues.
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Five ways to inspire creativity
Any industry or organisation where strategic planning is called for can be guilty of excluding the really good ideas that bubble up from surprising sources.
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One in two Aussies shop online during work hours: How small businesses can tackle the issue
A growing number of Australians are using work hours to spend time online shopping, but employers have to do more to stop this if they're not happy with the situation, says one HR expert.
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How to be a great referee and help mentees get amazing jobs
There are responsibilities that come from a senior title. One is that you get to be a referee. And if you are lucky, a mentor. The person who supports someone as they experience a perfect or terrible job. And the person who might help them dodge a dud job in the first place.
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Business group urges Coalition to reform Fair Work laws
A peak business group has criticised the Coalition government and parliamentarians for the "dismal state" of public debate on workplace relations, urging them to reform Fair Work laws.
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Will the Upcoming Election Affect Workplace Relations?
With an election due in the next 12 months and the Coalition Government performing poorly in polls leaving a potential change of government well within the bounds of possibility, there has been a quickening of interest surrounding workplace relations policy issues. A number of these issues may become significant differentiators between the Government and Opposition parties.
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50+ Employee Engagement Ideas From Forbes Human Resources Council
How can you establish a work environment that offers more than just a paycheck - the kind of place where every employee is motivated to give their best?
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Modern slavery and human trafficking - how the legislation is evolving
Modern slavery and human trafficking – a comparative analysis of existing and emerging legislation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore
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4 April 2018


Work Related or Not Work Related? Tragic South Australian Fatality in the Headlines
On 23 March 2016, experienced remote area nurse, Ms Gayle Woolford, was working in Fregon, in the APY lands in the Simpson Desert, some 1,275 km and an 18 hour drive from Adelaide. She was "on call" and living in a high security house at the time.
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Workers on Visas - Can They Claim Workers' Compensation?
The Hon Bill Johnston MLA recently released a media statement announcing the McGowan Government's intention to re-write WA's workers' compensation legislation, no doubt having regard to the extensive review process undertaken in 2013.
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The relationship between Human capital and company stock market value
According to UBS, as the economy grows from more manufacturing to services to knowledge, the proportion of a company's value that is related to human capital is going to grow.
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AFP raids Australian Tax Office whistleblower amid Four Corners investigation
A public servant turned whistleblower employed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has this morning had his home raided by officers from the ATO and the Australian Federal Police, after speaking with reporters in a major joint Four Corners and Fairfax investigation into alleged abuse of power by the ATO.
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National unions take to the streets to 'change the rules'
National unions will hit the streets to stage a series of marches and mass meetings around the country from April 17.
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Time to ask for a pay rise
Wages remaining stubbornly low in spite of productivity gains is a familiar economic story by now. In 2017 wages grew just 2.1 per cent, just slightly ahead of inflation at 1.9 per cent. Meanwhile, cost of living expenses not included in the CPI, such as housing, electricity and childcare, have been skyrocketing.
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Migrant workers 'left exposed' by workplace watchdog amnesty promise
The federal government's workplace watchdog is offering amnesty to temporary foreign workers who assist in workplace exploitation investigations despite having no clear power to do so, potentially exposing them to the risk of deportation.
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NSW workers are the happiest in the country
NSW workers are the happiest in the country, according to a new survey that found they are more fulfilled in their jobs and, along with Victorians, have a better work/life balance than their interstate counterparts.
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Workplace scandals: some lessons for employers
It is becoming too common that workplace scandals are played out in the media. Business is forced to scramble in response. Many interests and responsibilities compete in the desire to contain the damage and move on. Such circumstances present challenging times for a business.
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Men and young people more likely to be ageist: study
Men and young people are more likely to be ageist, but few Australians are resolutely ageist in their views, our survey finds. By ageist, we mean having consistently negative attitudes about how older people are or should be.
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$200,000 in penalties after overseas worker exploited and sacked by text message
The former owner-operator of an Indian restaurant in Perth has been penalised more than $200,000 after paying an overseas cook nothing for almost four months' work then sacking him by text message for taking a day of sick leave.
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27 March 2018

Unions have a history of merging - that's why the new `super union' makes sense
Australian trade unions have always changed and merged to reflect the shifting nature of work and employment, as industries and occupations disappear or develop.
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Email culture to blame for workplace failure on #MeToo
Workplaces need safe spaces to facilitate discussion about issues that are difficult, awkward and shameful to engage with.
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Gardening Leave - Weeding out Potentially Hazardous Employees Following a Resignation
Whilst we previously touched on the concept of gardening leave in this 2016 blog - Coleman Greig's Employment Law team have below expanded on what you need to know with regard to forcing a soon-to-be-Ex employee to take gardening leave.
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Domino's abandons enterprise agreement with shoppies union
Domino's Pizza has abandoned an enterprise agreement with the shoppies union in favour of keeping employees on an industry award in what a rival union has described as a face-saving exercise for both parties.
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Aggressive, rude? No, I was just being French, says fired waiter
A waiter fired for being "aggressive, rude and disrespectful" claims that there was nothing wrong with his behaviour... he was just being "French". Deserved or not, France's reputation for producing surly waiters who eye customers with suspicion, indeed disdain, is known the world over and has stood the test of time.
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The perks offered by the companies Australians most want to work for
PwC, the giant professional services firm that lets its employees decide what time they get to work, has again topped the list of companies people want to work for in Australia.
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Worker sacked by text message after taking one day of sick leave
An employer who sacked a worker by text message for taking a day of sick leave after being paid nothing for four months of work has been fined $200,000.
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Worker wins $25,000 in compensation after she was fired when her fiancé left the company
A worker in the Northern Territory has won $25,000 in compensation after her employer fired her because her fiancé told management she was intending to leave the business.
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Australia's version of #TimesUp has arrived to stamp out sexual harassment at work
When 17% of Australian women are reporting they have been sexually harassed in the past 12 months, and one in two reporting harassment at some point in their lives, it's clear more needs to be done to address the issue.
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High Court says: you pay the fine for your `white-collar crime'
The High Court has upheld a Judge's order that a Union cannot pick up the bill for an individual's penalty arising from a statutory breach.
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Bureau of Meteorology industrial action ramps up as workplace storm intensifies
Weather bureau staff will step up strikes in a fight for a new workplace deal as bosses continue to refuse conciliation at the industrial umpire.
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21 March 2018

Facing an investigation by the fair work ombudsman what is at stake
It is not uncommon for employers to face investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman ("FWO") where for example, a disgruntled employee has complained to the FWO about a workplace issue such as a failure to pay adequate wages or to meet award requirements.
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In the #MeToo era, a chatbot can help people report workplace harassment
Campaigns like #MeToo and Time's Up mean that public discussion about sexual harassment has finally bubbled up to the surface. The movements also highlight how such disturbing incidents have routinely gone unreported or been outright ignored.
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Unemployment is refusing to budge in the face of booming jobs growth, keeping wages down
The jobs market continues to be one of the more perplexing points of contention in the Australian economy.
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A 'fair' minimum wage should factor in the financial risk for workers
Minimum wage deliberations are about to start. The submissions are in and the Fair Work Commission is soon to undertake its annual wage review. It determines a minimum wage for almost two million Australian workers, with wage ramifications for millions more.
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Queensland Rail drivers earning tens of thousands in overtime as staff shortage drags on
Queensland Rail drivers and guards are pocketing tens of thousands of dollars a year in overtime as the organisation struggles to recruit dozens more crews to fill a staffing shortfall, new figures have shown.
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Court finds bus company was right to sack driver who didn't turn up for Boxing Day shift
The Federal Circuit Court has found a Victorian bus company was right to fire a worker who did not show up for work on Boxing Day in 2015, despite being rostered on for a shift.
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Darwin worker wins his job back after criminal charges led to his dismissal
A Northern Territory hospitality supplies business has been ordered to give a worker his job back after being found in the wrong for firing him while he was awaiting a criminal trial.
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Are you acting appropriately towards colleagues? Now's the time to review your behaviour
Is everyone in the workplace completely off-limits when it comes to touch? What about conservative body language - can it be construed as stand-offishness?
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Inquest starts over worker crushed in scissor lift during RAH construction
Pressure to build the new Royal Adelaide Hospital on time and within budget might have seen corners cut and safety compromised, an inquest has been told.
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WA worker's hand crushed in 'entirely foreseeable' work accident
An Esperance transport company has been fined $58,000 after a worker's hand was crushed between two containers while he used a forklift without a proper license.
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XXXX brewery staff strike ahead of Commonwealth Games
Almost 100 XXXX brewery workers will walk off the job next week, with the company rejecting union claims the action could disrupt beer supplies to the Commonwealth Games.
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Why union members earn higher wages than their non-union colleagues
Over recent decades in Australia union membership has fallen from 40% of the workforce in 1990 to 15% in 2016 and so unions might seem less relevant in making a difference to what we earn. But our research finds that union members do earn higher wages per hour than non-union members.
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14 March 2018

Swearing in the workplace: The legal position
The recent Full Bench decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in Illawarra Coal Holdings Pty Ltd T/A South32 v Matthew Gosek [2018] FWCFB 749 (Illawarra Coal), which garnered extensive media coverage, has once again put the spotlight on the issue of swearing by employees.
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Could the High Court's decision impact WHS sentencing?
The High Court has recently ordered that penalties for breaches of the FW Act must be paid personally by individuals, upholding a Federal Court Judge's order that the Union must not pay the penalty on the individual's behalf.
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Terminating an employee based on their ability to perform the inherent requirements of a job
To successfully defend an unfair dismissal claim, an employer must be able to satisfy the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that the dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.
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Hiring new employees? Stop focusing so much on "cultural fit"
When choosing the right candidate for a role, experts and industry professionals say employers need to look beyond the initial `cultural fit'.
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How Ai Mawdsley changed careers while pregnant - and what she learnt
A couple months back, an agency I admired was hiring for a general manager. It was exactly the sort of role I pictured myself in. A new challenge, an awesome company, and my skills and experience matched what they needed.
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Airtasker: Unions raise safety concerns over 'gig economy' cowboys
Unions NSW and some tradespeople are calling on the Federal Government to set up an independent regulator to oversee the emerging gig economy, amid concerns workers' safety is at risk.
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Robert Doyle: Investigation upholds sexual misconduct complaints against former Melbourne mayor
An independent report has found the conduct of Robert Doyle, Melbourne's former lord mayor, could constitute sexual harassment and gross misconduct, making four adverse findings against him as part of an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct.
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Banking royal commission: Whistleblower alleges cash for loans bribery ring at NAB
The banking royal commission has heard sensational allegations of a cash-for-loans bribery ring at National Australia Bank branches in western Sydney as the first round of public hearings kicked off.
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Retailers demand zero pay rise for Australia's lowest paid workers
One of Australia's top retail industry groups wants the country's lowest-paid workers to be denied any pay rise this year.
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'Gap' in laws left Indian Consulate driver without rights to award rates
Driver Hitender Kumar has lost a claim for more than $100,000 he was allegedly underpaid for work at the Indian Consulate because it is not required to pay award wages under Australian workplace laws.
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Companies defend charging $1000 for unpaid internships
Students and graduates are forking out $1000 to undertake unpaid internships with a one in 64 success rate of picking up a full-time job and which don't even take place at the company's office.
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'Fired for taking a holiday': Bicycle couriers claim unfair dismissal
Two foodora cyclists have launched unfair dismissal claims in cases the Transport Workers Union believes could prove a test case for the burgeoning food delivery industry.
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7 March 2018

Major career study shows young Australian women are missing in debate about future of work
Questions posed looked at the expectations and aspirations of young women in their careers, contrasted against current workforce realities.
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Bakery admits fault after worker loses top of finger in crumpet machine
Tasmanian bakery Cripps NuBake has admitted fault after a trainee lost the top of a finger when it became trapped in a crumpet-making machine.
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It's time we talked about the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault
Although they often have similarities and sometimes can be both at once, generally they are different types of legal claims which therefore require different complaint processes.
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Caltex slammed by Fair Work Ombudsman for widespread breaches of workplace laws
The Fair Work Ombudsman has released a report which found Caltex has a workplace non-compliance rate of 76 per cent of the businesses that were audited.
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Lured to her death while on call, but SafeWork SA says nurse Gayle Woodford's murder 'wasn't work-related'
The family of murdered outback nurse Gayle Woodford say they were left feeling "angry" and "insulted" by SafeWork SA's finding that her death was not work-related.
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Turnbull staffer loses job after posts about 'cheating' boyfriend NSW minister Matt Kean
A staffer to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has lost her job after using social media to accuse her boyfriend, NSW Innovation Minister Matt Kean, of infidelity.
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Turnbull government warns of 'chaos' as powerful super union takes shape
The Turnbull government has warned a merger of the militant construction and maritime unions will inflict "chaos" on Australian industry, claiming the 144,000 member-strong group will have unprecedented power over the economy and the financial firepower to shrug off fines for lawbreaking.
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CFMEU claims workers exposed to asbestos at Sydney Airport
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union claims its members have been exposed to asbestos at the T2 Sydney Airport loading dock construction project.
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'Shocking' levels of sexual harassment at work, study reveals
Fewer than a third of young Australian working women believe they are treated equally to men, according to a landmark new survey.
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What makes someone more likely to be bullied at work and how companies can help them
Being bullied as a child, being female, young, and neurotic are significant predictors of whether you might be bullied in the workplace, our online anonymous survey shows.
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Auditing, matching pay and accountability will close the gender pay gap: study
Taking action such as correcting like-for-like pay gaps, analysing performance pay and reporting the results to company boards are effective in closing the gender pay gap, new research shows.
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ACT Government Introduces Bill to Tackle Overpayment and Workplace Privacy Concerns
The Bill provides for employer deductions from an employee's salary where an overpayment has occurred. The Bill also addresses workplace privacy concerns.
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28th February 2018

Capture the (union's) flag
Building contractors stuck between a rock and a hardhat regarding the display of building association insignia on building sites
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"Casual" employee awarded 15 years of annual leave
In this case the Federal Circuit Court determined that an employee whom the employer purported was a casual employee, was in fact permanent and was owed a payment in lieu of notice and 15 years' worth of annual leave payments.
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The #MeToo Movement: When Employees Take Their Complaints to Social Media
As we are all aware, the news has been populated with stories concerning allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, particularly in the entertainment and media industries as well as government institutions.
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Worker 'seriously injured' at Brisbane construction site, school pick-up impacted
A worker has been "seriously injured" at a Brisbane construction site, leading to police closing the surrounding road and affecting the pick-up run at a local school.
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'I can't let you work if you're not paid up' - union demand slammed
The national construction union has been fined more than $100,000 for stopping two people from working on a Melbourne construction site because their union membership fees had not been paid.
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NSW helps shrink the gender pay gap
The pay disparity between men and women in NSW shrank more than in any state last year, helping to reduce the Australia-wide gender pay gap to the narrowest it's been in over a decade.
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Women in rural workplaces struggle against the `boys club' that leads to harassment
A culture of male dominance in rural Australian workplaces is a key explainer for the high rate of sexual harassment.
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Is faster profit growth essential for a pick-up in wages growth?
Do higher profits necessarily lead to higher wages? The answer, as borne out by the data, might surprise you.
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Is it OK for bosses to shout at their employees?
A study recently published by the Harvard Business Review, Is It OK to Yell at Your Employees? cited a list of famous people from all walks of life - sports, business, science, music, and others - whose trademark method of getting things done has been the raised, angry, voice directed at subordinates.
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What Australia can learn from Fiji in reducing the working poor
Labor's calls to raise the minimum wage or other pushes to implement a universal basic income ignore Australia's system of supporting low-paid workers in other, more important, ways.
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'We paid you $35,000 and we got nothing': Migration business investigated for alleged visa rip-off
A businessman who has been photographed posing with several Australian politicians is under investigation for allegedly charging would-be migrants tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for skilled working visas they never received.
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Victoria Police need to 'own' culture change on misconduct probes: senior officer says
A senior member of Victoria Police has admitted officers need to be more transparent in responding to allegations of abuse or misconduct, but warned against using "carpetbagger lawyers" to "lecture" them on reform.
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Ban on sex in the citadel misses the point
What a silly and undignified mess our upstanding political dignitaries have led us into.
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21st February 2018

Key cases that transformed the legal landscape in 2017 - and how they will impact your business
With 2017 now behind us, it is timely to reflect upon significant decisions in the past year which will impact your business.
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Absence of work-wages bargain crucial for Fair Work Commission in concluding that an Uber driver was not an employee
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently handed down a decision[1] which concluded that an Uber driver was not an employee for the purposes of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), but an independent contractor, meaning that his unfair dismissal application was dismissed.
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Here are the 120 employers that received the gender equality approval stamp
One hundred and twenty Australian organisations have received an employer of choice stamp of approval from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) today.
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ATO memo urges staff to dob in colleagues who take long lunches: Is this "the absolute worst" approach employers can take?
Australian Taxation Office staff were sent a memo last year urging them to dob in colleagues who waste time spending too long reading the paper at work or taking long lunches, but one human resources expert says this approach is a recipe for disaster.
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School principals at higher risk of burnout, depression due to workplace stress, survey finds
One in five school principals is overwhelmed by workplace stress, a survey has found, with an expert saying the results point to a "looming crisis".
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Some of us are just completely useless in an office argument
As a young child I had a habit of watching strangers argue and weep. I can remember often stopping and gaping, transported by mortification as two people seethed and reddened in front of me, incensed by some slight or act of selfishness (or the accusation thereof).
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Banning relationships is a bridge too far for most workplaces
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's new code of conduct banning relationships between ministers and their staff is tougher than you would find in most workplaces.
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What happens when employees are fired for complaining at work
It's illegal for an employer to fire an employee for complaining under the Fair Work Act, but in a study of 30 courts cases we found it's difficult for employees to prove they have been fired because of complaining or questioning their employer.
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NAB workers latest to fall as automation transforms the economy
Six-thousand retrenched National Australia Bank (NAB) employees start leaving from this week, largely from the bank's Melbourne head office, as software takes over increasingly complex tasks. It's the crest of a digital wave flooding through banks, financial institutions, accounting and law firms, and if you're doing a white-collar job that deals with information, you're in for a bumpy ride.
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Making Artificial Intelligence A Force For Positive Change In The Workplace
Do labor-saving and cognitive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) make life better in workplaces, do they make things boring, or do they eliminate workplaces altogether?
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14th February 2018

Mental health and workplace investigations: What are your obligations?
In recent cases from across the country, courts and tribunals have highlighted the importance of both considering the impact of workplace investigations on employees' mental health and the consequences of failing to do so.
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How to say no at work when you don't have kids
Despite a boom in flexible working, many singles say they’re still picking up the slack from colleagues with families. Career coaches are advising them to say no.
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Exploitation and underpayment of apprentice sees plumbing business in hot water with Fair Work Ombudsman
A plumbing business has been fined $100,000, and its director $21,500, after it failed to pay overtime to an apprentice and meet its record-keeping obligations.
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Are you willing to help in the workplace?
"Can I be of assistance?" You hear that a lot, often when you haven't asked for it.
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Coal miner denied workplace accident pay because of casual status leads class action
Coal miner Simon Turner is facing life on the street after a workplace accident left him disabled and destitute.
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'Masculine culture' and micro barriers still major issues for women
A greater push for gender diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is often written off as political correctness. The data tell another story.
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Weinstein Co sale halted by harassment, discrimination lawsuit
The fire sale of the Weinstein Co hit a last-minute snag on Sunday, when Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, filed a lawsuit against the studio and its fraternal founders alleging that they repeatedly violated state and city laws barring gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and coercion.
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Why your office is beginning to look like a forest
The modern office is starting to look more like a Rainforest Cafe than a place of business.
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How to ask for a pay rise
When Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe argued that the real source of workers' unhappiness was an unwillingness to lobby for higher wages, he overlooked a key tenet of negotiation: we negotiate most successfully when we have highly valued (and scarce) skills.
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A new definition of `worker' could protect many from exploitation
If we want gig workers (such as Uber drivers, Airtasker cleaners and delivery riders) to have decent working conditions, pay and hours, it may be time to consider creating a new legal category of "worker" that covers contractors as well as employees.
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Woolworths contractors underpaying cleaners in 'serious exploitation' across Tasmania, inquiry finds
A Fair Work Ombudsman inquiry into Tasmanian supermarket cleaners has found "serious exploitation" of workers and "abysmal" record keeping.
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7th February 2018

Don't know what a leader looks like? Nor do they - until they look in a mirror
Few people have many good words to say about our leaders at the moment, it seems, and faced with the absence of leadership we might think that we should heed those frequent calls to develop our leadership potential.
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SA Liberals promise $200 million apprenticeship scheme to prevent skills shortages
The SA Liberals have unveiled a plan to create 20,000 new apprenticeship places over the next four years at a cost of $200 million, to address a sharp decline in trainee positions across the state.
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13 'ye olde' phrases to impress your colleagues and butter up your boss
Clearly we need to enter 2018 with a fresh set of expressions for the workplace.
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Lululemon CEO Laurent Pontdevin steps down for unspecified misconduct
Lululemon Athletica chief executive Laurent Potdevin abruptly resigned from the yogawear seller in the wake of unspecified misconduct, leaving a leadership vacuum and a swirl of controversy in its C-suite.
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Flags and hard hat slogans banned under new building code
Enforcing a government building code which bans unions putting slogans on hard hats or displaying the Eureka Stockade flag has been compared to a game of "cat and mouse".
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Whistleblowing isn't dobbing. It supports our democracy
The proposed secrecy laws should send a collective shiver through the public service.
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German industrial workers win right to flexible hours
Industrial workers in south-western Germany have won the right to reduced working hours as part of a deal that could benefit millions of employees across the country.
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When Fluffy wants Mommy: The growing demand for pet-friendly workplaces
Employers are clamouring to attract millennials, and many of those millennials are looking for pet-friendly workplaces.
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Construction business wins unfair dismissal case after firing worker who chest-bumped a man for stealing his cowboy hat
A construction worker has been unsuccessful in his claim of unfair dismissal, after a Western Australian business fired him for his involvement in a fight over his cowboy hat, which was stolen while he was having a drink at the staff village of a construction site.
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Ten communication skills to improve work relationships
Workplaces are like families - there'll always be those whose communication style you love and others who rub you up the wrong way.
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A broken system: general pains for employers with adverse action claims
Many businesses have had to deal with the cost, disruption and trouble caused by a claim that the business has allegedly taken adverse action against an employee because the employee exercised a workplace right or had a protected attribute.
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31st January 2018

Why that difficult person you work with probably isn't a psychopath
As workplaces become increasingly difficult and damaging environments, there are plenty of articles and books on dealing with "psychopaths" among your colleagues. But psychopathy is heavily contested as a diagnostic category. And labelling a co-worker a psychopath fails to account for how our workplaces can encourage bad behaviour.
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Amazon bans salary discussions in job interviews: Should your business ask applicants about their pay?
The US arm of retail giant Amazon has reportedly banned managers from asking prospective employees about their salary histories during the hiring process, in a move designed to encourage pay equity between men and women.
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The Surprisingly Personal Reason Google's CEO Doesn't Regret Firing James Damore
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sundar Pichai emphasized the importance of getting more women represented in tech.
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HSBC in Australia has trialled 'doona days', and 1400 of 1800 staff took one up
Feel like calling in, pulling a sickie and burrowing back under the covers for the rest of the day? You’re not alone. And many companies have come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t have to resort to faking illness just to take a day away from the daily grind of getting up, getting there and getting the work done.
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Reality check: What you say outside of work can impact your employment
In recent years there have been a string of high profile examples where somebody has found themselves in hot water at work for comments made in their personal capacity.
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NZ: 90 day trial periods – soon to change for some employers
The Labour-led Government has announced that the use of 90 day trial periods will be prohibited for any business that employs more than 19 employees.
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Unlawful discrimination in the workplace – Employers' exposure widens
To create an environment free from unlawful discrimination, bullying and harassment, employers know they should be prepared to recognise and prevent conduct which might give rise to these complaints in the workplace. But what employers need to also know now is that acting on bad behaviour can itself be unlawful, where that behaviour is a function of an injury or illness.
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Why unions are furious about the blocked Sydney train strike
While the New South Wales government and some commuters might breathe a sigh of relief, the cancellation of a strike that met all the requirements for protected industrial action will provide fresh impetus to unions’ Change the Rules campaign to strengthen collective bargaining rights.
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Navigating the new industrial manslaughter laws
The new and very serious offence of “Industrial Manslaughter” was introduced to Queensland on 23 October 2017, when the Queensland Parliament passed the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (“Act”). The Act represents the Palaszczuk government’s response to recommendations contained in the report commissioned in response to the workplace fatalities that occurred at Dreamworld and Eagle Farm racecourse in late 2016.
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Australia’s workplace relations system is broken
Australia’s workplace relations system is broken — it is not optimally serving the interests of employees, employers, the public or our national economy. The rail dispute in Sydney this week is an example of just one small part of the broader problem with a system that is no longer fit for purpose.
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Decline in strike action linked to slow wages growth
The failure of many Australian workers to get a real pay rise has been linked to a decline in industrial action, including strikes. The findings follow the Fair Work Commission's decision last week to stop Sydney train workers from taking industrial action including restrictions on overtime and a one-day strike on Monday because it could damage the economy.
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24th January 2018

Why this chief executive pretended to be a man on LinkedIn
In a post on Mumbrella this week, Andrea Myles recounts how she changed her identity on the networking platform and added a stock image of a male chief executive as her profile picture. She wanted to conduct a “social experiment” after being “pissed” at the number of inappropriate communications she had received through LinkedIn direct messages.
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“It’s ridiculous”: Small business community hits back at claims private sector discourages staff from taking sick leave
Council of Small Business Australia chief executive Peter Strong says claims that some firms in the private sector are stopping workers from taking sick leave are “ridiculous”, after figures on staff absenteeism showed corporate workers take less leave on average than their public service counterparts.
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CEOs plan to hire more without paying much more
Businesses are expecting more sales, profits, capital investment and employment growth than at any time since 2012. The annual Australian Industry Group survey of 269 chief executives finds 155 expect to put on more staff in 2018 and only 34 plan to lose staff. It's the first time in six years more companies have planned to hire than fire.
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Enterprise bargaining collapse a likely cause of wages weakness: think tank
A collapse in private sector enterprise bargaining risks undermining Australia's industrial relations system and is likely to be a key factor in record low wages growth, a think tank has warned. Recent figures from the Department of Employment showed a huge decline in the number of private sector employees covered by enterprise agreements during the September quarter.
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Teen firefighting volunteer taped to truck was regularly targeted by Eaglehawk colleagues, CFA finds
The assault of a 17-year-old girl at a central Victorian fire brigade last year was "not an isolated event", but an example of cultural problems at the station, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) has found.
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Uber drivers not employees according to the Fair Work Commission
The FWC examined the relationship against the traditional indicia of control, exclusivity of work, and the workers provision of their own tools of trade and found that while Uber exercises control over fares, including minimum trip fees and surge pricing, most of the commonly regarded employment indicia were missing.
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Employer liable for compensation even without formalised employment contract
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has found in Sutherland and Comcare (Compensation) [2017] AATA 2596 that evidence of an employer-employee relationship before a formalised employment contract has been executed is sufficient for the employer to be liable for workers' compensation—a decision that may impact future claims in Western Australia.
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Sexual Harrassment in the post-Weinstein age - What is next for employers?
Given the extensive coverage of this issue, with it becoming a social media staple and the subject of many "barbecue stopper" conversations, it is unlikely that the impact of these events will be confined to the media and entertainment industries. As such, an increase in complaints of sexual harassment is on the cards for 2018, with aggrieved employees emboldened after seeing that power, status and position don't confer a licence to engage in such behaviour with impunity.
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Term contracts: What you need to know
A recent decision of a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has opened the door to employees on maximum term contracts bringing unfair dismissal claims by overturning the principle that the expiry of a term contract is not a termination at the initiative of the employer
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