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Employment Law – WARNING! Inappropriate Christmas Party Behaviour

Employment Law – Christmas Party Behaviour

With the festive season upon us, a few timely reminders to avoid the celebratory hangover and deal with its effects should it arise. Although we wish all of our staff enjoy the end of year parties and behave themselves, alas this does not always occur.

Below we set out some of the key employment law matters an employer needs to bear in mind:

Do’s and Don’ts

  • do ensure you have suitable workplace policies in place including drug & alcohol policies, bullying, harassment and discrimination policies, WHS policies, grievance procedures and any other relevant codes of conduct
  • do remind and train staff including managers about your relevant workplace policies before the function and, for guidance purposes, give examples of behaviour that is and is not acceptable
  • do empower relevant managers to act if they observe any improper conduct during the course of the function
  • do check your insurance policies to ensure they cover the type of event being held
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – Bupa Criticised for Disciplinary Process

Employment Law – Background 

The Fair Work Commission has found that a vulnerable aged care worker was unfairly dismissed due to her employer, Bupa Aged Care, acted unconscionably. Bupa were criticized for their “unprofessional, discourteous and unfair” disciplinary process.

Employment Law – Facts 

In essence:

  • Shahin Tavassoli, a refugee from Iran with limited English skills, was employed by Bupa
  • On the weekend of 13-14 November 2016, a colleague secretly recorded her on his mobile singing “I can do anything better than you” following a heated exchange between a resident and a nurse and also allegedly laughing and joking at the death of two residents
  • A second video, recorded the following day, allegedly captured her sitting in the TV room ignoring resident’s buzzers
  • These videos were shown to David Brice, acting general manager of Bupa Mosman a Miriam Lyman, care manger
  • On 16 November, Tavassoli attended work training. However, at 2pm Brice escorted her from the premises, only telling her that there had been serious allegations made against her and he was waiting for more documentation in a few hours.
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – Dismissal for Drug Test Refusal Invalid

Employment Law – Background

The Fair Work Commission has held that a company who dismissed an employee for refusing to provide a blood sample for a drug test had no valid reason to do so.

Employment Law – Facts

In essence:

  • Green was employed by Lincon Hire & Sales as a work platform operator
  • On 1 March 2017, Lincon received anonymous information that the employee and others were using drugs
  • Lincon’s drug and alcohol policy allows random drug testing, and asserts that refusal to partake will be considered a positive test, allowing for potential disciplinary action, including dismissal
  • On 6 March 2017 all employees underwent a drug test. Green provided a negative sample. However, Lincon received further anonymous messages claiming that Green and others had used substitute samples
  • On 7 March 2017, Green was informed he had to undergo a blood test because the previous tests had been “fudged”
  • Employees, including Green, felt that a blood test was an invasion of privacy and Green offered to do a urine test instead
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – Employee Compensated After Award Obligations Ignored

Employment Law – Background

The Fair Work Commission has compensated an employee who was unfairly dismissed because her employer failed to comply with their consultation obligations under the relevant award.

Employment Law – Facts

In essence:

  • Carer’s that Care (CTC) terminated Ms Morris’ employment because it could not afford to pay her full-time wage after losing a significant number of clients
  • Ms Morris argued that she hadn’t received any warnings but was only told that CTC was shutting down and staff would be made redundant
  • She also argued that she was not provided with the opportunity to respond, because the managing director refused to have any discussions with Morris
  • Morris lodged an application for unfair dismissal

Employment Law – The Relevant Law

  • Section 389 of the Fair Work Act (‘The Act’) states that a genuine redundancy occurs when an employee’s position is no longer required and the employer has complied with any obligations under the modern award or enterprise agreement
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – Poor Response to Parental Leave

Employment Law – Background

A company was found to have taken adverse action against a pregnant employee and were ordered to pay $57,000 in compensation because they made her redundant just days before she took maternity leave.

Employment Law – Facts

In essence:

  • In 2015 the company decided to make several roles redundant as of November 12
  • However, they moved the redundancy date for a pregnant employee forward to two days before she took maternity leave
  • They believed moving the date was in her best interest
  • The employee claimed that she was dismissed because of her maternity leave

Employment Law – Decision

Judge Salvatore Vaster of the Federal Circuit Court:

  • found that the employer had taken adverse action against the employee
  • whilst noting the reasons for the redundancy were genuine, believed that moving the date of the employee’s redundancy amounted to changing her position to her prejudice, on the basis she did not have the chance to discuss the reasons for redundancy or contemplate other appropriate positions in the company
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – Court Dismisses Employee’s Misleading Conduct Claim

Employment Law – Background

The Federal Court has rejected a high earning employee’s claim that her employer engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct when the media company told her that her new role would be “long-term”.

Employment Law – Facts

In essence:

  • Nunn Media dismissed their head of strategy during her probationary period, alleging she was often late and the quality of her work did not meet their standards
  • However, the employee claimed that Nunn Media had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct because when recruiting her they said if she was hired, it would be a “long-term” commitment
  • She claimed that she was dismissed because she made a complaint about a director’s work performance and took personal leave for illness
  • To support her claim she relied on an email from the managing director to another employee which said “WTF (what the f***) in response to the employee informing Nunn Media that she required time off to see a doctor.
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – No Compensation for Employee who fibbed on CV

Employment Law – Background

The Fair Work Commission has held that a company’s failure to provide notice to a finance manager rendered her termination unfair. However in an interesting turn of events, declined to award compensation because she “deliberately deceived” them of her qualifications.

 

Employment Law – Facts

In essence:

  • In her application for an accountancy role at Spectrum Community Focus Limited, the manager claimed that her qualifications included “ASA-CPA Australia” (an associate member, who had six years to complete training to become a full member of the professional body for accountants) and had an MBA
  • She later became the finance manager, reporting directly to the CEO and board of directors and responsible for preparing financial reports
  • In November in the lead up to her dismissal, she made several blunders including failing to file the company’s return to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) by the required time frame. She also made several mistakes with the 2015 reports, including not reporting an apparent $600,000 loss to the managing director
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – Couple Working From Home Employees

Employment Law – Background

Putland v Royans Wagga Pty Limited is a clear example of sham contracting. In this case, the Federal Court of Australia decided that a husband and wife who performed largely home-based clerical work for one company were employees, not independent contractors.

Employment Law – Facts

In essence:

  • The couple were employed by a truck repair company, Royans Wagga Pty Ltd
  • The couple’s relationship with Royans began in 2005, when the wife worked in the business’ offices monitoring accidents
  • In 2008, the husband helped provide the 24 hour, 7 days a week ‘accident reporting service’ which was based either at their home or in a demountable shed on the business’ premises at various times
  • However in 2015, Royans outsourced the service to an independent call centre
  • Since 2007, any contract between the parties was described as “partly oral and partly in writing”. However, Royans argued that the couple had been independent contractors at all times
  • Continue reading…