Fair Work Act

Employment Essentials - 2nd Edition

Employment Essentials - 2nd Edition

This month we bring you the latest newsletter from the Employment, Industrial Relations & OHS team, Employment Essentials.

Employment Essentials reports on topical issues in HR and brings you the latest updates in employment law. Plus much more.

If you would like further information, want to ask a question or subscribe to receive Employment Essentials via email, contact us at employmentessentials@sladen.com.au.

If you would like further information, want to ask a question or subscribe to receive Employment Essentials via email, contact us at employmentessentials@sladen.com.au

Sladen Snippet - The Fair Work Ombudsman targets Accountants

Sladen Snippet - The Fair Work Ombudsman targets Accountants

A Melbourne accounting firm is being prosecuted by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for its alleged involvement in the underpayment of two Taiwanese backpackers working for one of its clients, who operated a fast-food outlet.

The accounting firm provided payroll services for its client.

According to the FWO, the workers were paid a flat rate of $16.50 an hour, which was below the minimum hourly rate payable to the workers under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 (Award). The workers were also not paid a casual loading or penalty rates when they worked on weekends, evenings and on public holidays. In just a little over 6 months, this resulted in an alleged underpayment of $9,549.

Sladen Snippet: Employers take note - Important changes to the Fair Work Act

Sladen Snippet: Employers take note - Important changes to the Fair Work Act

Important amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 have now come into effect, resulting in significant changes, particularly for employers.

Greenfields agreements - new process for negotiating

A new process for negotiating greenfields agreements has been established, whereby employers now have an obligation to bargain in good faith when involved in greenfields negotiations. This new process includes an optional six month negotiation timeframe. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement within six months, the employer may apply to the Fair Work Commission for a determination.

Sladen Snippet – Hefty fine incurred for failure to pay proper notice

Sladen Snippet – Hefty fine incurred for failure to pay proper notice

Failure to pay to an employee proper notice resulted in a HR Manager and the company she worked for being fined in the Federal Circuit Court in Adelaide.

The employee was paid some notice, but not the whole of the notice period required by the Fair Work Act. This underpayment resulted in the employee being underpaid $181.66 (two days’ notice) as a result. 

The HR Manager conceded in the hearing that she knew of the requirements to pay proper notice, but the company claimed confusion had arisen as a result of the interaction of the provisions of the workers compensation legislation in South Australia regarding termination of employment and the Fair Work Act.  The Federal Circuit Court did not accept this as a reasonable excuse, stating the company should have paid the notice as provided by the Act.

Sladen Snippet - Fair Work amendments get "green" light from Senate

Sladen Snippet - Fair Work amendments get "green" light from Senate

The Senate has passed a number of amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009, however the Government has been unable to attract sufficient support from cross-benchers for several key proposed changes, which have now been omitted from the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014.

The passed amendments are significant and include:

  • establishing a new process for negotiation of greenfields agreements by extending good faith bargaining to the negotiation of these agreements and providing an optional six month negotiation timeframe for the parties to reach agreement (following which an employer can apply to the Fair Work Commission (Commission) for approval of its agreement);
  • providing new requirements to prevent employees from taking protected industrial action unless bargaining has commenced (either voluntarily or because a majority support determination has been made);
  • imposing an obligation on employers to discuss with employees a refusal to grant an extension to unpaid parental leave.

Sladen Snippet - VCAT orders $20,000 compensation for the “shock” arising from a production worker’s discriminatory dismissal

Sladen Snippet - VCAT orders $20,000 compensation for the “shock” arising from a production worker’s discriminatory dismissal

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has found that a confectionary company directly discriminated against a 63 year-old production worker when it dismissed him because of a disability, and has ordered the company to pay him $20,000 compensation for the shock caused by the dismissal.

The worker had been employed by the company for almost 30 years and had previously suffered chronic “tennis elbow” (which had arisen as a result of his employment but had fully resolved at the time of dismissal). Relying upon a medical report that warned the company the condition could flare up if he maintained his regular duties, the company terminated the employee’s employment effective immediately.

Judicial guidance for payment of annual leave loading on termination

Judicial guidance for payment of annual leave loading on termination

The genesis of annual leave loading can be traced back to the 1970’s when metal workers won a claim for its inclusion in their award. It was sold on the logic that workers would not get their normal pay, which included shift and weekend penalties, while on annual leave.