BlandsLaw - Articles - Page 8
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Directors and managers have onerous obligations and personal liability under occupational health and safety laws. Different provisions apply across the country however, regardless of where the workplace activities are being undertaken, the obligations and duties on directors and managers are particularly onerous.

In all jurisdictions except for New South Wales and Queensland, the primary obligation requires an employer to take all reasonable and/or practicable steps to ensure or provide a safe working environment or to protect the health and safety at work of employees.

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The Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008 was tabled in parliament on 13 February 2008. This Bill is an amendment to the Workplace Relations Act 1996, effectively making a number of changes to the framework for workplace agreements.

The amendments proposed by the Bill are intended to give effect to the Government’s election commitments and begin the transition to a new workplace relations system.

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The incoming Rudd Government has announced that a transition bill addressing a ban on new AWAs, defining its 10 minimum employment standards and award simplification process will be introduced in the first sitting of the new parliament next year, with legislation for Labor's full workplace policy to become effective from 1 January 2010, to be later introduced. The first sitting day next year for both houses is 26 February 2008.

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A recent decision in the Federal Court highlights the importance of the content of company policy documents provided to employees and the need to ensure compliance with the processes and standards set out in such policy documents.

We recommend you carefully consider whether the terms of any policies or procedures that provide benefits to employees, or impose obligations on your business, are intended to be contractually binding on both you and your employees. It may be appropriate, for example, to clearly distinguish between “aspirational” statements and clear directions you expect employees to follow, or clear procedures that employees can reasonably expect your business to follow.

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On 4 July 2007, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, The Hon. Joe Hockey MP, released the Workplace Relations Fact Sheet following the introduction of the Fairness Test under the Workplace Relations Amendment (A Stronger Safety Net) Act, 2007 on 28 June 2007.

The Fact Sheet contains information on employee entitlements, including the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard, support services and basic protections for working Australians. It also provides an overview of the Fairness Test.

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In addition to the well-publicised anti-bullying measures introduced on 1 January 2014, there are several other changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 that also came into effect on 1 January and have implications for employers.

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Managing your organisation's performance effectively entails managing your employees' performance effectively.

An annual performance appraisal is an integral part of this process but should not be the only time that there is feedback between the employer and the employee.

Regular performance reviews enable you to:

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From 1 January 2014, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) will deal with workplace bullying claims from workers within 14 days of the complaint being made, and will have powers to make orders to stop the bullying. Financial penalties will apply to employers who contravene FWC orders resulting from a bullying claim. This article looks at bullying in the current employment law landscape and then outlines the new laws and some practical steps for employers to get ready for these changes.

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