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 On 6 April 2011 the Victorian parliament introduced a Bill to amend the Crimes Act so that serious workplace bullying could result in a jail term of up to 10 years. The definition of what type of behaviour would be covered by the legislation includes "using abusive or offensive words" that could reasonably be expected to cause physical or mental harm to a person (including self-harm).

Although Victoria is the first state to introduce legislation bringing this behaviour into the criminal sphere, if passed it is reasonable to suggest that other states will follow.

The introduction of this legislation reflects the wider problem of inappropriate workplace behaviour and making those responsible accountable for their actions. The proposed legislation would also cover online bullying which is of particular importance with the growing use of social media sites.

Implications for Employers
Employers need to be particularly diligent in ensuring:
1.    That they have clear policies and guidelines outlining what is acceptable behaviour,
2.    Defined processes for dealing with employees who do

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Are you looking for sample social media guidelines for your organisation? We have developed, in conjunction with bluewiremedia and QudosClub, two sample social media guidelines that you can download and customise to your organisations requirements.

1. Social Media Guidelines - Moderate - Suitable for organisations wanting to take a more temperate approach to social media in the workplace.

2. Social Media Guidelines - Unrestricted - Suitable for organisations that have fully embraced social media and would like relatively unrestricted use in the workplace.

Please note: These guidelines do not consititute a social media policy or legal advice. All organisations should have a separate, comprehensive social media policy that forms part of their policy suite, developed in consultation with a lawyer. For more information on social media policies please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Under provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA), an employer cannot take adverse action against an employee because they possess, or are exercising, a ‘workplace right’. These provisions are found in Chapter 3, Part 1 of the Fair Work Act and are referred to as the ‘general protections’ provisions. General protections included workplace rights, industrial activities and other protections. These general protections are designed to protect freedom of association in particular.

The meaning of a workplace right includes the situation where a person is;

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A recent decision of Fair Work Australia should highlight to employers the importance of having a social media policy in the workplace.

The background to the case is that a Melbourne hair-dresser who, amongst other reasons, was dismissed after talking disparagingly about her employer on Facebook has successfully argued that her termination constitutes an unfair dismissal. The hairdresser was successful on arguments other than the Facebook issue, but the case still raises important issues about the use of social media by employees. Read the full article here

Constructive dismissal

Constructive dismissal occurs when the conduct of an employer causes an employee to resign. The employer may expressly ask the employee to resign or the employer’s conduct may leave the employee feeling that there is no other choice but to resign. An employer may believe that resignation is mutual however if an employee is able to demonstrate that the employer’s behavior was unfair or unlawful in procuring a resignation, a constructive dismissal claim may pursue as highlighted in the recent decision of John Steven Little v Petfood Processors (WA) Pty Ltd. Read the full article here.

The Social Media Phenomenon – Are You Prepared?

With Twitter growing at a phenomenal rate, Facebook networking larger than life, LinkedIn creating a recruiter’s goldmine and ‘blogging’ not an obscene word but widely understood logging resource, social media is quickly emerging into the communication mainstream. Click here to read the full article

With effect from 1 January 2010, the redundancy provisions in the Fair Work Act, 2009 (Cth) came into operation the result of employers and employees in the national workplace system being covered by the National Employment Standards (NES). The new redundancy provisions bestow a positive obligation on employers to fully explore opportunities within an employer’s wider corporate structure to redeploy. For employers, proactively pursuing and proposing alternate employment opportunities before redundancy termination, will minimise the risk of unfair dismissal or adverse action litigation being brought by employees.

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On 1 January 2010 the modern award system provided for in the Fair Work Act 2009 will come into effect. It is possible that awards will cover employees who were previously regarded as ‘award free’, even though this was not the stated intention of the modern award process. Employers will need to determine which employees will be covered by which modern awards or face exposure to penalties of up to $33,000 per breach. Click here to read more

In a ruling that serves as a warning to employers, the Federal Magistrates Court rejected an employer's contention that pre-employment negotiations were not binding.

In the case of McRae v Watson Wyatt Australia Pty Ltd, Federal Magistrate Raphael found that a redundancy provision that was discussed in pre-employment negotiations formed part of the employee’s contract.

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Circumstances may arise in which the employment of your employees need to be terminated. Termination attracts various legal obligations of which employers ought to be mindful in order to avoid or minimise litigious repercussions.

From 1 July next year, the Federal Government's changes to the Work Choices unfair dismissal laws will take effect, which will in turn alter the current legislative termination landscape.

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REMINDER: WorkChoices record keeping requirements take effect 27 March 2007

The new record keeping requirements for employers come into effect on 27th March 2007.

Employers will need to ensure that compliant records are kept relating to:

  • Employer and Employee details
  • Hours worked
  • Pay records
  • Leave
  • Superannuation

Employers may be subject to inspections from the Office of Workplaces Services and heavy fines may result from non-compliance.

For a free "health check" consultation on your compliance please contact Andrew Bland on +61 2 9006 1675 or 0401 244 418.



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