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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 – 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 – 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…

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Employment Law – Chauffeur Who Had Minimal Control a Worker

Employment Law – Background

The South Australian Employment Tribunal has found that a chauffeur, who provided “little more than his labour” and exercised minimal control to limousine company Blue Ribbon Passenger Services, was a worker not an independent contractor.

Employment Law – Decision

The South Australian Employment Tribunal:

  • determined that the arrangements between Blue Ribbon and its chauffeur was a contract of service, and as such the chauffeur was a worker for the purposes of workers’ compensation law
  • believed in this circumstance the chauffer was “providing little more than his labour” within “Blue Ribbon’s systems and practices of work”
  • concluded that the chauffeur operated within the “obedient milieu” put down by Blue Ribbon, as they told him which vehicle to drive and where to pick up/drop off customers, booked and allocated jobs through its systems or Uber and required him to complete worksheets daily to record his jobs. He also had no flat weekly fee or minimum hours and no set hours of work
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – Client Information Posted on Facebook Confidential

Employment Law – Background

The Supreme Court has rejected a mortgage broker’s argument that the client list he took from his old employer and provided to a competitor was no longer confidential because his old employer posted some of their clients names on Facebook.

Employment Law – Facts

In essence:

  • the mortgage broker worked for Home Loan Experts as an independent contractor, however terminated his agreement with them in November 2016
  • he was still bound by restraint clauses which prevented him from distributing Home Loan Experts confidential information for 10 years and a non-solicit provision which forbade him from engaging in similar business activities for 18 months
  • soon after he started working for competitor, RAMS Financial Group Pty Ltd
  • whilst he was allowed to provide services to family and friends, he was not allowed to lure former clients to RAMS or contact them within the 18-month restriction period
  • the broker downloaded a list containing over 100 of Home Loan Expert’s clients’ names and addresses from their system to his computer and provided it to a RAMS receptionist so she could send Christmas cards
  • Continue reading…

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Fair Work Commission – Settlement Prevents Dismissal Claim

The Fair Work Commission has thrown out an unfair dismissal application because the employee had previously agreed to a settlement with his employer.

Facts

In essence:

  • In November 2016, Mr Singh was dismissed from his team leader role at Sydney Trains after an investigation into two safety incidents in August 2015
  • Singh was dismissed for failure to follow safety policies, procedures and guidelines whilst working in a safety critical location, causing significant risk of harm to himself, his team and the public
  • He applied for unfair dismissal under s 394 of the Fair Work Act
  • On 13 February, Singh’s solicitor wrote to Sydney Trains solicitor proposing terms of settlement, including that Singh be re-employed in an administrative role
  • Sydney Trains replied adding various qualifications regarding medical assessments and the requirement that a deed of release be signed
  • The deed of release was given to Singh and he agreed to settle the application in principle based on the terms in the draft deed.
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Law – Contempt ruling for director who deleted documents

Employment Law – Background

A former director at an aged care service provider has been found guilty of contempt of court after he deleted information relevant to a confidential information claim being brought against him the night before he was due for court.

Employment Law – Facts                          

In essence:

  • The director of technology and innovation at Mirus Australia resigned on July 13 2015, before the company terminated him on August 7 2015
  • He did not deny that he removed information from the client management system and uploaded it into a laptop after he left
  • Mirus became aware that he and another former employee were going to start up their own aged care business
  • On August 24, 26 and 28 Mirus’ lawyers sent the director letters stating he was in breach of the restraint clause in his employment contract and required that the confidential information, intellectual property and devices be returned for examination
  • On September 7 2015, Mirus initiated legal proceedings against the director
  • Continue reading…