BlandsLaw - Blog posts from Industrial Relations
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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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Social Media & Unfair Dismissal - A Guide for Employers

The recent decision by a full bench at Fair Work Australia in Dianna Smith T/A Escape Hair Design v Sally-Anne Fitzgerald [2011]FWAFB 1422 (15 March 2011) upholding an unfair dismissal finding is a timely reminder for employers to ensure they observe the correct procedures when considering terminating an employee, and that they have clear guidelines in place for the use of social media where employees comment on their place of work.

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.

Historic Legislation meets Senate approval. Paid Parental Leave Entitlements are here!

 

Australia’s first national paid parental leave scheme has officially passed the vote of the Senate which from next year, will provide 18 weeks parental leave paid at the minimum wage.

Read the full article here

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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Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, Senator Nick Sherry, have announced new laws regulating executive termination payments.

Under the proposed new laws, termination benefits for directors and certain senior executive employees exceeding one year’s average base salary will require shareholder approval.

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