BlandsLaw - Blog posts from Workplace policies
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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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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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Social media in the workplace: practical tips for best practice policies

Internet Law Bulletin (Lexis Nexis) – June 2013

Andrew Bland and Sarah Waterhouse look at the rise in employment law decisions involving social media, particularly in unfair dismissal cases, and examples of emerging case law including the recent appeal in Linfox Australia Pty Ltd v Glen Stutsel. This paper – aimed at legal advisors in the areas of workplace and internet law – proposes that a comprehensive and effectively-implemented policy for employee use of social media is an essential legal risk management tool. It also provides practical hints on what to include in a social media policy for employees.

Click to download article > Internet_Law_Bulletin_June_2013 SM articles

 

A recent tribunal decision in Queensland highlights how important it is for employers to understand the dos and don’ts of performance management. In Ram v Yes Distribution Pty Ltd and Anor[1], the employer, an Optus reseller, required a sales employee to move to their Townsville store when forced to close their Cairns store for business reasons. The catch, however, was that during discussions with the employee about this relocation the employer chose to raise performance issues as part of the discussion. The employee subsequently claimed that she had been discriminated against on the basis of family responsibilities and that her family commitments prevented her making the move from Cairns to Townsville.

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The Federal House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment has released its findings on bullying in the workplace. The report, entitled Workplace Bullying: We just want it to stop was tabled on Monday 26 November 2012 and provides 23 recommendations to create a harmonised set of minimum standards and guidelines for the management of bullying in workplaces.

A nation-wide definition of workplace bullying

The Committee recommends the establishment of a national advisory service to offer advice and guidelines to both employers and employees on what does and does not constitute workplace bullying.  To this end it recommends the adoption of a nationally consistent definition of bullying and what constitutes bullying behavior:

“Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behavior directed towards a worker or group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety.”

This contrasts with the current situation where there is no express prohibition on workplace bullying in any Australian laws, and with different definitions of bullying and no real guidelines in State and Territory legislation. Add

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Employers beware: Be clear – and legal – when dismissing an employee

If you are a business owner or HR practitioner, consider this fraught scenario: an employee is dismissed after refusing to agree to changes in his employment terms and conditions, and threatening to involve a union – leading to a claim of adverse action against the company. The employer claims the person was terminated for causing a workplace accident, but did not state this reason in his letter of termination. The result: reinstatement of the employee until his case of adverse action against the company is determined.

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Do You Need a Mobile Devices Policy?

Smartphones have become a ubiquitous sight in public and in the workplace. IPads and tablets are similarly common now in the office. These are all examples of mobile devices, and more companies are making these devices available to their employees and allowing remote access to system servers.  Increasingly, employees have devices of their own, and expect to be able to use them at work.  Most agree that these mobile devices are an indispensable tool, and many argue that they could not imagine working or running a business without them. But few people – and perhaps fewer employers –realise  the potential hazard they hold in their hands.

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Performance Reviews- A Guide for Employers

 

The procedural fairness requirements of the Fair Work Act, 2009, together with recent decisions of Fair Work Australia (FWA), impose on employers an obligation to act carefully and consistently when managing and disciplining employees. This article addresses some practical strategies for effective performance management in the workplace.

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Employee or Independent Contractor? It's Not the Title That Counts

The recent case of Kuat Chee v Renown Business Solutions Pty Ltd [2012] FWA 5137 (9 July 2012)  addressed the difficult topic of when a contractor is truly a contractor, and when they are properly classified as an employee.

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We are continually advising employers to have thorough and compliant employment contracts in place with their employees. In addition we advise frequently on the need to have policies in place that deal with many aspects of daily working life including bullying, harassment and, one of the more important ones…occupational health and safety. We are often asked by employers “Why do I need these? Can’t people just use their common sense?” Our reply, all of the time is…”NO, because common sense isn’t common enough!”

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Previously, we have discussed the notion of whether a company’s policies and procedures may be legally binding. In that article, we highlighted a recent decision in the Federal Court which outlined 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.

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From 1 July 2011 the government will pay the Parental Leave benefit directly to employers, who will then be required to administer the payment to the employee. Employers need to ensure their pay systems are compliant and ready.

For an updated fact sheet on the governemnt funded paid parental leave scheme please click to download Parental-Leave-Fact-Sheet.

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.

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