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Bullying and Harassment Claims High in Local Government

Safe Work Australia have identified that local government employees are the third most represented group when it comes to compensation claims for Workplace Bullying and Harassment.

For the three years to 2016, approximately 190 local government employees received compensation for workplace bullying and harassment a year.

Bullying and harassment can take varying forms. It can be subtle or take the form of more overt behaviour.

What is Workplace Bullying and Harassment?

Bullying at work, as defined by the Fair Work Act 2009, occurs when:

  • a person or a group of people behaves unreasonably and repeatedly towards a worker or a group of workers while at work; and
  • the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

However, bullying does not include reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.

Wollondilly Shire Council

David Wilson aged 61 years, plant operator, took his own life the same day that he was informed that his most recent complaint was found to be unsubstantiated.
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Director Record Keeping Duties

Company directors have financial record keeping duties under the Corporations Act and substantial penalties can apply for a failure to maintain adequate financial records.

What are the duties?

All companies are required to keep and maintain accurate financial records which:

  • correctly record and explain the company’s transactions and financial position
  • would enable true and fair financial statements to be prepared

What are financial records?

In essence, financial records:

  • are broadly defined in the Corporations Act and include invoices, receipts, bills of exchange (eg. cheques), promissory notes, documents for prime entry (eg. cash books and journals) and working papers
  • must be retained by the company for at least 7 years after completion of the transactions to which they relate

How are financial records to be kept?

The financial records may:

  • be stored in electronic form provided they can be converted into hard copy within a reasonable period of time
  • be kept in any language, however, an English language translation must be provided within a reasonable period of time if requested by a person entitled to inspect the records
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How to serve a statutory demand

By Andrew Behman, an Associate of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

In earlier articles, we highlighted the problems that arise when serving a Creditor’s Statutory Demand by post: see You’ve been served! and It Serves You Right?.

This issue reared its head again two weeks ago in winding up proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW in which we acted for the creditor. The Court was satisfied with all but one element of the evidence required to make the winding up order. The Court did not accept that the statutory demand had been properly posted (even though there was evidence of postage).

The statutory demand had been ‘posted’ by an Australia Post employee attending and collecting it from the office premises rather than the statutory demand being placed into a post box. The Court was not prepared to accept that the statutory demand had been posted because it was unfamiliar with this practice. The Court was more familiar with posting a statutory demand by placing the document into a post box or directly with an Australia Post outlet.
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When is an old debt too old to collect?

By Andrew Behman, an Associate of Matthews Folbigg, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

Sometimes, we are all a bit guilty of putting some of the more difficult to collect debts in the ‘too hard basket’ for too long. For so long that they become an ‘old debt’. But how long can you leave an old debt before it’s too late to collect? And the old debt becomes ‘statute barred’?

For debts in NSW, the clock generally starts running for a period of 6 years from the date the cause of action first accrues (e.g. the date of default). After the expiry of this 6 year period, the legislation restricts you from recovering the debt and it becomes ‘stature barred’.

However, it is possible to reset the clock on old debts depending on the circumstances and events that take place during the 6 year period. A few examples that might reset the clock for an old debt include:
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Divorce Lawyers

It’s fair to say that divorce is almost always a traumatic event in one’s life. The stress and emotions that are associated with divorce often make people overlook important long-term practical and legal issues that can have a significant effect. Therefore, it is always recommended to seek legal advice when you are considering getting a divorce to obtain an overview of your legal rights and any potential legal issues. Our divorce lawyers at Matthews Folbigg Lawyers can assist in helping you through the traumatic process of a divorce to meet your divorce needs.

When can I divorce?

You cannot apply for a divorce until you have been separated for 12 months. All that needs to be proved is that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage which divorce lawyers can establish by evidence of you having lived separately and apart from your partner for a continuous period of 12 months before the filing of the divorce application. This can include separation “under the one roof” in some circumstances.

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FWC Reduces Redundancy Payout to Zero

A company has successfully applied to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to reduce its statutory obligation to pay redundancy pay after helping an employee secure alternative employment with another company.

Statutory Redundancy Entitlement

The National Employment Standards (NES) usually entitle national system employees to receive redundancy pay if their employment ends due to redundancy.

Exceptions

However, various exceptions can apply including where an employer obtains other acceptable employment for a redundant employee.

In that case the employer may apply to the FWC to have the NES redundancy amount reduced to what the FWC considers appropriate including to zero.

The Facts

In Get Started Pty Ltd v Lee:

  • the company employed Mr Lee as a web developer for almost 2 years
  • the company experienced a downturn in business and notified Mr Lee that his position was to be made redundant effective 2 March 2018
  • prior to 2 March 2018, another third-party developer, Levo Group Pty Ltd (Levo), made contact with the company and asked to ‘borrow’ some of its personnel to assist with an increase in work
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Binding Financial Agreements

What is a prenuptial agreement?

Binding Financial Agreements (BFAs) as they are known in Australia are made before marriage and are designed to protect your assets. If such an agreement is entered into, it may exclude assets in the agreement from the asset pool of both spouses, provided that the agreement has been drafted correctly.

Who should get a Binding Financial Agreement?

A BFA can be made by couples before they get married. They are particularly useful in second marriages, where both spouses have children from previous relationships. Spouses may wish to enter into these agreements to ensure that certain assets brought to the second marriage will pass to their children of a previous relationship. A BFA is also useful in cases where one spouse has considerably more assets than their partner (including businesses, farms, inheritance, gift, lottery wins or other financial assets they want to keep if the relationship should fail). BFAs are complex and can in some circumstances be successfully challenged in Court. We can assist in identifying whether the option is best for your family circumstances.

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Child Custody

The law abolished the concept of ‘child custody’ and does not make any distinction between the rights of fathers and mothers. Instead, the ‘best interests’ or welfare of the child is the paramount consideration that the Court takes into account in determining ‘child custody’, that is who the child with live with and spend time with.

While the law does not guarantee an equal-shared parenting arrangement in every matter, both parents have the responsibility for the care of their children. If the Court decides that an equal-shared parenting arrangement is not in the best interests of the child, the Court must consider ordering significant or substantial time to the non-resident parent.

The question of how much time a child should spend with both parents is determined by what is in the ‘best interests’ of the child. This is achieved by having regard to the two ‘Primary Considerations’, that is:

  • Whether there is any benefit to the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
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