Articles

On the record: Understanding the importance of record-keeping compliance

As the conversation around “wage theft” continues in the media and politics, the importance of award compliance remains at the forefront of employers’ minds. Key amongst basic obligations under the law that are sometimes overlooked by employers is record-keeping. A recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court serves as a valuable reminder that failure to fulfil obligations with respect to employee records and pay slips can attract serious consequences for employers, as well as their service providers.   Record-keeping requirements The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) and the Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) (FW Regulations) provide that employers…

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Summary of proposed reforms to the Fair Work Act

The Morrison Government introduced legislation last week proposing sweeping reforms of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). The National Retail Association has long campaigned for and significantly contributed towards the development of many of these reforms including to introduce flexibility into part-time employment, defining casual employment and changes to enterprise bargaining. The National Retail Association played an important role in advocating for these issues in the Attorney-General’s industrial relations working groups which identified these key issues, and had direct input in the drafting of key provisions. NRA Legal has prepared the below summary of key changes proposed by the…

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Morrison Government proposes sweeping Fair Work reforms

After a year that has been something of a hellish rollercoaster for many businesses, a light has appeared at the end of the tunnel with the Morrison Government announcing that it intends to introduce legislation to make radical amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) on Wednesday. These amendments come after several years of advocacy by employer groups and should, hopefully, provide some much-needed flexibility and certainty for businesses. Details of what exactly the legislation will entail are yet to be released, however the government has announced some key areas of reform.   Casual employment to be…

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High Court challenge to powers of the Fair Work Commission

In what may well turn out to be the industrial relations equivalent of David versus Goliath, a former Coles employee is challenging the power of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to dismiss certain applications. Specifically, the question before the High Court will be whether, in an application alleging “adverse action” involving dismissal, the FWC has the power to determine whether or not the employee was in fact dismissed. Milford v Coles Supply Chain Pty Ltd & Anor, B62/2020   The issue at stake The issue for the High Court to determine is which body has the power to dismiss a…

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Employment essentials: 7 simple steps for new franchisees

Joining a franchise network has always been a popular option for prospective business owners. The customer base is already established; marketing, supply chain logistics, and product development is taken care of by the franchisor; and there’s a vast support network in place often with decades of experience in running a successful business that can be tapped into. However, it is important to remember that while the franchisor may provide many of the systems in place within the workplace, the freedom of running a business comes with the responsibility of making sure that the business is complying with Australian workplace laws.…

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Notification nightmares: Social media missteps for employers to avoid

The advent of social media has transformed how we live, connect, and do business. Employers can now use social media to advertise, recruit and communicate with employees, and engage directly with customers. But it has not come without complications for employers: harassment or bullying can now happen online, and as technology innovates, there are new and unexpected ways for employees to fall afoul of their employment obligations such as we’ve previously discussed in relation to the app, TikTok. While there is often discussion about the importance of managing employee use of social media, there is little consideration of the risks…

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The $5.2 million question: employer hit with record adverse action order

The Federal Court has handed down what may well be the largest payout ever in an adverse action claim under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), finding that a senior employee was dismissed for making complaints about bullying. Importantly, the case demonstrates the power of the reverse onus of proof in adverse action claims, with the court finding that the FW Act created a presumption the employer had acted for an improper purpose, and the employer had not proved otherwise. Roohizadegan v TechnologyOne Limited (No 2) [2020] FCA 1407   Ready Players One, Two and Three The applicant…

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When do I need to notify WorkSafe of an incident in the workplace?

Over the past weeks, news has tragically emerged of two delivery riders who were fatally struck by vehicles days apart in Sydney. The incidents have sparked renewed calls for more consistent WHS reporting obligations across Australia. When a serious safety incident occurs in the workplace, you may be required to notify the relevant regulator in your state of territory. This not only extends to employees, but also contractors and subcontractors, outworkers, work experience students, and volunteers. Except in Western Australia, if notification is required you must also preserve the site until an inspector arrives or you are directed otherwise. This…

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Employer dodges conviction for child labour offences as regulator flexes muscles

In a stark sign of the times, the Victorian Wage Inspectorate (VWI) has claimed its first criminal prosecution under child labour laws, and emphasized that it stands ready, willing and unafraid to prosecute wage theft offences when it gains that power next year. VWI has flagged a tougher stance on compliance and a greater willingness to exercise its powers to undertake criminal prosecutions. Macleod (DPC) v Elissa Thomas, K10846028 Child employment in Victoria Despite its name, VWI is not limited to prosecuting “wage theft” offences; it is also tasked with prosecuting offences against the Child Employment Act 2003 (Vic). Under…

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COVID Controversy: Obtaining pandemic-relevant information from employees

As businesses navigate the challenges of ensuring the health and safety of their customers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, they must be careful to avoid infringing upon the privacy of their employees. A recent decision in the Fair Work Commission is useful for understanding what information an employer can request of its employees, as well as whether disciplinary action can be taken against an employee who refuses to provide requested information. Case: Kieran Knight v One Key Resources (Mining) Pty Ltd T/A One Key Resources [2020] FWC 3324   Request to complete COVID-19 travel survey In March 2020, One…

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