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New Laws to Stand Down Employees

New Stand Down Laws

From 9 April 2020 employers are able to utilise new stand down provisions arising from changes to the Fair Work Actin light of COVID-19. These changes are temporary and are currently stated to end on 28 September 2020.

 

Core Requirements

The new provisions enable employers to issue a “jobkeeper enabling stand down direction” to relevant employees where all of the following apply:

  • the direction was given after the commencement of the new stand down laws to not work on a day(s) on which the employee would usually work, or to work for a lesser period than the period which the employee would ordinarily work on a particular day(s), or to work a reduced number of hours (compared with the employee’s ordinary hours of work)
  • when the direction was given, the employer qualified for the jobkeeper scheme
  • the employee cannot be usefully employed for the employee’s normal days or hours during the stand down period because of changes to business attributable to the COVID‑19 pandemic or government initiatives to slow the transmission of COVID‑19
  • Continue reading…

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Employment Agreements

The Importance of Comprehensive Employment Agreements
Navigating Australia’s complex employment system can pose significant challenges for employers including when it comes to employment agreements.

Protect and Defend
The importance of comprehensive employment agreements cannot be overstated as they can:

  • afford an employer greater control and power over matters such as remuneration, duties, termination, confidential information, intellectual property and restrictive covenants
  • promote compliance and consistency with the Fair Work Act and relevant industrial laws and instruments
  • assist employees to minimise (and sometimes eliminate) a wide variety of claims including underpayment claims and breach of contract / constructive dismissal claims
  • assist employers to pursue claims for any loss suffered due to an employee breach of a confidentiality, intellectual property and/or restrictive covenant obligation

Depending upon the situation at hand, the costs of not having comprehensive employment agreements in place can be catastrophically high.

Essential Terms
Terms that should be contained in a comprehensive employment agreement include:

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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…