Work Christmas parties are a chance for employees to let their hair down, celebrate their achievements from the past working year, and it can also be a great chance for your employees to bond. However, although the work Christmas party can be fun, it can also be fraught with dangers.
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Mental health has been a hot topic in our society generally over the past few years, especially after we started to emerge from the pandemic induced lockdowns. These trends in society have been mirrored recently by regulatory bodies across Australia creating various safety regulations, frameworks and codes of practice, meaning that employers now have much more responsibility surrounding mental health risk factors in their workplaces.
The Secure Jobs, Better Pay Act has amended the Fair Work Act to strengthen the right to request flexible working arrangements, and provided an extension to unpaid parental leave. These changes come into force from 6 June 2023.
When are the changes happening?
The introduced prohibition on sexual harassment from the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 has now come into force. The prohibition applies where the sexual harassment occurred, or is part of a course of conduct that commenced, on or after 6 March 2023.
Irrespective of their size, companies have a wide range of policies and procedures in place that their workers need to be aware of – which is why a staff handbook can prove useful. Comprehensive and easy-to-understand employee handbooks should detail employment policies and procedures, clearly articulating your business’s expectations of employee behaviour and performance in their roles.
We recently held a webinar on the topic of reducing the risk of sexual harassment in the workplace, which can be viewed below.
Disciplinary procedures are a normal, yet important part of any workplace, regardless of size. However, across different businesses, the disciplinary procedures and when they are used can differ a lot. This can be due to a number of factors, including accepted standards of behaviour or the approach of the owner or manager.
Despite consistent warnings in the form of very public underpayment scandals, large businesses are still being found to be underpaying their employees in a variety of ways.
What is whistleblowing?
The act of whistleblowing involves identifying and calling out misconduct and harm to consumers and the public. Whistleblowers are mainly covered by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) which provides them legal rights and protections, although other legislation can also protect them.
So-called “Wage Theft”, and wage underpayments in general, have emerged as an issue in Australia over the last 6 years or so. Put simply, Wage Theft is when an employer underpays an employee either intentionally, or with high levels of negligence or recklessness towards their payroll compliance obligations. The level of ‘intent’ is where Wage Theft differs from underpayments in general. 2019 analysis from PwC estimated that underpayments to employees could be as high as $1.35 billion per year. Whilst only an estimate and not focusing on Wage Theft specifically, it can be assumed that despite only emerging as an issue relatively recently, Wage Theft has been occurring long before underpayments were discovered and publicised.
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