February 2021

In the News

  • The ABS monthly labour force survey has been released which shows that unemployment has decreased 0.2 pts to 6.4% in January 2021 and underemployment has decreased 0.4pts to 8.1%.
  • The FWC has expressed its objection to the introduction of a 21-day deadline for the approval of enterprise agreements under the proposed Omnibus Bill, stating that it "is likely to have unintended consequences" on negotiations.
  • Push to trade penalty rates for higher wages sparks pay-cut claims.
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman has clarified its instructions to employers in relation to COVID-19 vaccinations, confirming that most employers will not be able to require their employees to obtain the coronavirus vaccination as no Public Health Order has been introduced.
  • The FWC has implemented the final stage of the 75% increase to minimum wages.

In the Courts

  • The FWC has found that the dismissal of an employee who joked that he would make a workers compensation claim was harsh and ordered that the employer pay $18,000 in compensation.
  • The UK Supreme Court upheld a ruling that London Uber Drivers are not independent contractors, rather they are considered ‘workers’ under the UK Employment Rights Act 1996.
  • An employee was dismissed for failing to report a workplace incident where he hit his head. The FWC dismissed his unfair dismissal application, finding that the failure to report was a valid reason for dismissal.
  • The FWC has granted a further period of application for an unfair dismissal application which was not made within 21 calendar days of the dismissal taking effect, noting that the employee had not been well served by his lawyers.
  • The FWC has rejected a casual hospitality worker's unfair dismissal application, noting that his failure to accept or respond to the 58 shifts offered to him between March and Sept 2020 said much about his lack of motivation to accept work.
  • A former Ausgrid engineer failed to inform them of her intention to make a claim for an engineer’s allowance. Ausgrid had no opportunity to formally respond to her dispute, as prescribed by the relevant EA. The FWC full bench dismissed the appeal.
  • Westpac sought unusual orders from the FWC to contest an unfair dismissal claim lodged by an employee who said she was dismissed without explanation. What made the request unusual, was Westpac’s insistence that the reason for dismissal be kept confidential. The FWC refused the request.
  • The Federal Circuit Court held that an employee who asked for a raise and enquired about their change in entitlements did indeed make a workplace ‘inquiry’ under s341 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

Employment Law Podcast Series: Independent Contractors and the Gig Economy

PCC Podcast Episode 6

Following a recent unfair dismissal case involving Uber Eats, and their subsequent announcement of their new business model and contracts for delivery drivers, in this podcast we discuss the status of gig economy workers as independent contractors or employees - an issue  that has been challenged in a number of courts and tribunals globally.

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Parental Leave - Key Obligations for Employers

Over recent years there has been significant discussion over the Australian Government’s Parental Leave Pay scheme. It is easy for this to distract from what is perhaps the most important employee entitlement for prospective parents, and one of the most important obligations for employers: unpaid parental leave.

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The Importance of Workplace Policies

Workplace policies are an essential tool for managing employees and can even act as a safeguard for employers when facing litigation. While their most crucial function is to set out what is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace, policies can also produce the side benefit of creating a friendly and productive workplace environment.

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Covid-19 Update: JobKeeper Extension

In this newsletter we look into the changes to JobKeeper payments and directions with the package extension effective from 28 September 2020.

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