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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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Many employers may not be aware that amendments were passed to Australia’s current privacy laws back in November 2012. The amendments, which form part of a larger reform process, will become effective from 12 March 2014. For those employers and businesses who will need to comply with the changes, there are less than four months to get ready.

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We often write about unfair dismissal cases to highlight the potential pitfalls to employers: sometimes the ‘rules’ are quite complex and present some grey areas. By way of contrast, the messages in the following case are strikingly simple – you need a ‘real’ reason to dismiss an employee; and text messaging is not an appropriate substitute for a face-to-face meeting.

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Employers must consider opportunities for redeployment within the company or its associated entities in order for a redundancy to be genuine, according to the Fair Work Act 2009. Typically the courts have applied and interpreted these provisions quite widely; for example consideration of redeployment options should include positions that are more junior or on less pay. But does this include employee redeployment to an overseas operation?

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BlandsLaw webinar - Wednesday 30 October 2013 at 1pm

We're not talking about your expanding waistline (you look great). We are talking about the five essential things that you need to know about employment law - your obligations as an employer, and protection for your business - as your business grows.

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With a few busy months ahead for many businesses holding work social functions and Christmas parties, it is a good time to consider the issues around drugs and alcohol in the workplace. From a legal risk management perspective, best business practice around these issues involves the implementation of workplace policies that cover not only drugs and alcohol, but also performance management, occupational health and safety, discrimination and termination. It may be useful at this time of year to remind employees what policies are in place and when these apply.

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Federal Circuit Court says company has case to answer for underpayment by subcontractor.

A company has failed to have a case summarily dismissed by claiming that it was not responsible for underpayment to workers by its subcontractor. The case was brought before the Federal Circuit Court by the Fair Work Ombudsman, and involves a South Australian company, Integrated Trolley Management (‘ITM’), one of many companies around Australia engaged to collect trolleys at various supermarkets. ITM subcontracts its services to Coastal Trolley Services (‘CTS’), who in turn subcontracts to South Jin Pty Ltd (‘South Jin’), the employer of the underpaid workers. The claim was made against South Jin as the employer and against CTS for accessorial liability.

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Employees can get themselves into all sorts of trouble through the misuse of social media in the workplace. But is social media really to blame? Not in all cases - as this cautionary tale illustrates.

The Fair Work Commission recently rejected an unfair dismissal claim from an employee who used LinkedIn to solicit work for his own private business. The employee showed that he had disclosed to his employer, an architectural design practice, that he did small design projects for private clients outside his normal working hours. The employer had accepted this.

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A Queensland tribunal recently found an employer was liable after it failed to properly investigate a sexual harassment claim brought by one of its employees. (McCauley v Club Resort Holdings Pty Ltd (No 2) [2013] QCAT 243 (13 May 2013))

The case involved a sexual harassment claim made by a food and beverage attendant against a chef with whom she worked. The attendant claimed the chef had made derogatory comments to her over a number of days and made growling noises in her ear and around her neck. 
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The Federal Circuit Court has imposed a record $238,920 penalty on a company providing an airport shuttle service from Newcastle to Sydney airport, for underpaying its drivers. 

Interestingly, the Fair Work investigation arose not from an employee complaint, but as part of a national compliance campaign focussed on sham contracting. The penalty imposed was made up partly of breaches relating to misrepresentation of employees as contractors, and partly for failing to meet award requirements.

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