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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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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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Federal Government Announces Replacement Fair Work Ombudsman

The Turnbull government has appointed Sandra Parker as Australian’s new Fair Work Ombudsman. Ms Parker was elected through a merit-based selection process and she will replace Natalie James who previously served as the ombudsman for five years. With over years of experience in her roles as both the deputy secretary at the Department of Jobs and Small Businesses and a public sector official, the appointment of Ms Parker is a welcome change to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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Australian Government launches examination into Workplace Sexual Harrassment

In response to growing social pressures driven by the #MeToo movement, the Australian Human Rights Commission has launched a year long  ‘’in-depth examination’’ of sexual harassment in the workplace.  The inquiry aims to determine the main drivers of sexual harassment in the workplace, and the use of technology and social media and its legal framework.

Sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins stated that the inquiry was a “huge step in the right direction” as “we need to continue to create a society where this kind of conduct is unthinkable and where sexual harassment at work is not something people simply have to put up with”. More importantly, the inquiry will provide employees, employers and all members of the public with an opportunity to participate in developing a solution to ensure Australian workplaces are safe and respectable for everyone”.

As it stands, more than 20 per cent of people of 15 years old in Australia have been sexually harassed, with 68 per cent harassed in the workplace. The purpose of the inquiry is aimed to work out solutions to drastically reduce those figures and hopefully lead to an increase in women in top leadership and executive roles.
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What every employer MUST know for 1 July 2018

With the commencement of a new financial year, it brings with it important changes and new rates which will apply from 1 July 2018.

NEW! High Income Threshold (HIT)

With the HIT:

  • it increases on 1 July 2018 to $145,400
  • it impacts:
  • who can make a claim for unfair dismissal (for those not covered by a Modern Award or to whom an enterprise agreement does not apply)
  • the maximum amount of compensation payable in an unfair dismissal claim
  • those on a ‘guarantee of annual earnings’ (a Modern Award does not apply to an employee whenever this guarantee is in place provided it continues to meet the relevant legislative requirements)

NEW! Modern Award Increases

With Modern Awards (including enterprise awards):

  • minimum wages increase by 5% (starting on the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2018)
  • absorption of wage increases into over-award payments is permissible (subject to the terms of the relevant employment agreement and what other amounts are being absorbed into any annualised salary)
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Record Keeping for a SMSF

Record Keeping for SMSF’s

Introduction (SMSF)
Most SMSF trustees are aware that record keeping is important to ensure their fund remains compliant and eligible for tax concessions, but few trustees understand the actual ramifications of what happens when you don’t keep the right records.

Record Keeping Requirements
The ATO website contains a great deal of helpful information for SMSF trustees including the records a fund must keep. See https://www.ato.gov.au/super/self-managed-super-funds/administering-and-reporting/record-keeping-requirements/

For example, copies of annual returns must be retained for at least 5 years but records of changes of trustees and minutes recording investment decisions must be kept for at least 10 years.

Wrong Turns – Real Life Examples

1. Maintaining the Chain of Deeds
A and B set up the AB Super Fund in 1987.  They are the trustees of the fund in their own capacity.

In 1990 and again in 1998 they updated the provisions of their SMSF trust deed.  Their accountant arranges this for them.

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Do you know what PPSR interests affect your business?

Do you know what PPSR interests affect your business?

Selling
Selling your business can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. Once a purchaser is found the parties usually move as quickly as possible to enter into a sale contract and then to completion.

PPSR Considerations
An area often overlooked by a seller is taking the time to consider what security registrations (PPSR Interests) under the Personal Properties Securities Act (PPSA) may exist over the assets being sold including vehicles, stock, plant and equipment.

Standard Sale Condition
If the Contract for Sale of Business 2015 edition is being used:

  • a standard clause requires a seller to provide a release of each security interest that applies to the assets being sold (or such other statements or documents confirming the security interest does not apply to those assets
  • often a seller mistakenly believes that because they have already paid for various assets that they are not subject to any security interest
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