Whilst most businesses are winding down for a break over the Christmas period, some employers in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania are frantically trying to assess whether they will have sufficient staffing levels to survive the holidays.
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As COVID-19 restrictions gradually lift across Australia, employees will be returning to work, or in some states, they may have already returned. It is important that employers therefore have a plan in place for their employees to return to work and how they will manage the COVID risk when they are back.
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.
General Protections laws are intended to protect basic workplace rights, including freedom of association and shielding workers from workplace discrimination in accordance with international labour conventions. Under these laws, it is unlawful to take adverse action against a person because of a proscribed reason. Additionally, General Protections laws provide effective relief for persons who have suffered adverse actions, such as being discriminated against, victimised, or have experienced other forms of unfair treatment.
State governments in Victoria and New South Wales are preparing to move into the next phase of the COVID-19 re-opening roadmap.
State governments in Victoria and New South Wales are moving into the next phase of their COVID-19 re-opening roadmap.
Last month, we published a reminder that the deadline for assessing casual employees’ eligibility for conversion to permanent employment and making an offer (or ‘non-offer’) was fast approaching. All employers of casual employees (other than ‘small business employers’) were required to complete a number of actions prior to the 27th of September 2021 deadline, including assessing and notifying casual staff about whether they are eligible for casual conversion under the Fair Work Act 2009.
Late last week, the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act 2021 received royal assent and took effect as law.
Note: This article has been update to reflect recent changes to the Health Orders put forward by the NSW Government. Please review this new information in line with your current practices to ensure you are complying with the updated government advice. Current as at 31/08/2021.
Recently, the Federal Government and the Fair Work Ombudsman released further guidance around the interaction between COVID-19 vaccinations and workplaces.
- Your Super obligations will change when hiring new employees
- ‘Super Stapling’ requires employers to use an employee’s existing fund, where an employee does not nominate one on their super choice form.
- New obligations are just around the corner – 1 November 2021
It has been a busy year for superannuation reform in Australia. With the recent uplift in Super Guarantee contributions from 9.5% to 10% taking effect on 1 July this year, yet another change impacting how your business manages super with new employees is on the horizon.
In late March 2021, the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021 (Amendment Act) passed both Houses of Federal Parliament, amending the Fair Work Act 2009 to include reforms to workplace rights and obligations for casual employees.
As many of you know, the ER Strategies office and our team are located in Sydney, NSW. Even though we are subject to the stay-at-home orders, we are still available to assist you with all things ‘employee relations’ during this time. We have a skeleton crew in the office answering calls as well as directing some of them to team members working from home.
As Australian employment law develops, it becomes harder for employers to keep up with it. Employees are becoming more aware of their workplace rights too. Therefore, employers must ensure that they understand their obligations when it comes to dismissing employees, reducing the risk of an unfair dismissal or other claim, such as a General Protections claim.
Current Salary Cap and Compensation
The Fair Work Act sets limits to an employee’s eligibility for unfair dismissal redress where they are not covered by an award or enterprise agreement. This is called the High-Income Threshold (HIT), which is amended annually.
ER Strategies’ Interactive Guide to the Federal Government’s Casual Reforms Legislation is now available!
In late March, the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Act 2021 (Amendment Act) passed both Houses of Federal Parliament, which amended the Fair Work Act 2009 to include reforms to workplace rights and obligations for casual employees. The legislation has received Royal Assent and is therefore now in operation, with some transitional arrangements.
This month (March 2021) marks a full year since the Federal Government announced the JobKeeper scheme, providing unprecedented financial support to many employers and employees across Australia. Unfortunately, this month also signals the end of the scheme, along with the Fair Work Act flexibilities extended to eligible ‘Qualifying’ employers and ‘Legacy’ employers as part of the program.
With the first COVID-19 vaccinations under the federal government’s COVID-19 Vaccine National Rollout set to take place today, Monday 22 February 2021, employers around Australia will need to consider how the availability of COVID-19 vaccines may impact their broader Work Health and Safety obligations to their employees and persons who come into contact with their business.
Back in February 2020, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) decided to insert detailed annualised wage arrangement provisions into 16 modern Awards (e.g. Banking Finance, Clerks, Pharmacy etc).
As a result of COVID19, the Australian government has provided significant financial support to employers through the subsidy known as JobKeeper (‘JK’). The JK program commenced in March 2020 and will cease at the end of March 2021.
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) Full Bench has decided to remove the higher-level junior rates of pay under the General Retail Industry Award 2020 (GRIA). This will mean that the adult rate will apply to all juniors at levels 4 to 8 inclusive.
Disgruntled dismissed employees are increasingly lodging General Protections (GP) applications compared to Unfair Dismissal actions, despite unfair dismissals still being more common overall.
The Annual Wage Review 2019-20 listed 3 operative dates in which the 1.75% wage increase would take effect, with the operative dates categorised by industries who were least affected to most affected by the pandemic.
Business risks keep climbing as awareness grows of adverse action claims under the Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA).
Due to huge media attention over the past 1-2 years, you will be aware of the variety of large-scale employers underpaying their staff. Woolworths, Coles, Bunnings, respected universities, and IBM have all been guilty of it and faced the consequences.
On 22 October the Federal Circuit Court found that Barry Café in Northcote, Victoria, “deliberately contravened workplace laws and exploited staff”. The Court found the café exploited vulnerable workers by refusing to offer shifts of work to anyone that complained.
There is a common theme in many of the cases we read now, about getting the process right and following often simple steps, to avoid employee relations issues such as unfair dismissal cases. This applies to many situations, but more so with a transfer of employment situation.
In our recent article, we explained how the coverage under the Miscellaneous Award has been expanded by the Fair Work Commission (FWC). This has meant that ER Strategies is fielding a lot of questions from clients about this change and how award coverage works.
On 27 July 2020, the Health Sector Awards Full Bench issued a decision ( FWCFB 3940) granting an entitlement to paid pandemic leave for most employees working in the aged care industry who are covered by the following awards:
Does unpaid leave extend the minimum employment period (probation period) in relation to unfair dismissal claims?
Most employers now conveniently align the probation period under their contracts of employment to the minimum employment period under the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act).
Annual Wage Review 2019-20 – 1.75% increase to be rolled out across three dates for different modern awards
This morning the Fair Work Commission released its decision regarding the Annual Wage Review 2019-20.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) – the independent statutory body responsible for enforcing compliance with workplace laws and education – has recently published a resource for franchisors providing guidance on their responsibilities and practical steps that they can implement to comply with the ‘reasonable steps’ requirements.
As with the normal workplace, the employer has a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure employee safety and health and to provide an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Inappropriate behaviour at staff functions, which can be attributed to “good cheer” which often accompany these social events, can lead to employers being held liable.
The termination of an employment relationship can carry risks for a business, especially if the employee doesn’t agree with the decision. Employer-initiated termination falls into two categories, dismissal of an employee or a genuine redundancy situation. As an example, an employee may be dismissal due to their continued poor performance whilst an employee can be made redundant due to their role no longer being needed within the business.
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