BlandsLaw - Blog posts from Fair Work Australia
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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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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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While there is no general entitlement to unpaid leave under the Fair Work Act 2009, there are some provisions that deal with the question of when unpaid leave can be taken. In other cases it is a matter for agreement between the employer and employee.

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The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recently commended McDonald’s Australia for conducting a self- audit on its employees’ wages and other entitlements, leading to improved workplace relations for the 90,000-strong restaurant chain.

McDonald’s had agreed to participate in the self-audit following an unsuccessful attempt to have an enterprise agreement approved by Fair Work Australia. Although the enterprise agreement was approved on appeal, McDonald’s agreed to enter into a Deed to achieve two compliance activities:

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It’s mid February already. If you’re a small to medium business owner you may be finalising your business plan for the year ahead – or perhaps your team has its head down, on the way to achieving its goals for this quarter. Managing your business’ 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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Four important changes to unfair dismissal laws: how they impact you

In October, the Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten announced that parliament will implement numerous important changes to the Fair Work Act this year, following an independent review of the Act in June 2012. Chief among these changes are those concerning complaints brought about by employees upon termination of their employment. Here is a summary of the four key changes that we believe will impact positively on businesses and workplace relations.

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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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Getting It Right - Employee Leave Entitlements on entry, exit and during the course of employment

Welcome to our ‘Getting It Right’ series. This is the first of our series of articles addressing employee leave and their entitlements upon commencing employment, during employment, resignation and termination.

This week we are looking at annual leave and further in the series, we will be covering personal leave, parental leave, long service leave, leave without pay and other special leave.

“Getting It Right” means being aware of an employee’s leave entitlements, knowing how and when such leave can be taken and what is payable when leave is taken or the employment relationship comes to an end. This paper aims to clarify and consolidate your thoughts on annual leave.

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Don’t Discount Redeployment Options to a Junior Role When Making Employees Redundant

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ("the Act") provides guidelines and provisions on the process of dismissing an employee, and in what circumstances a dismissal may be consider unfair. Under the Act, an employer will be exempt from an unfair dismissal remedy if the dismissal is made by way of a redundancy. However, the redundancy must be one that is considered genuine. At s389 of the Act, a person’s dismissal is not classed as a genuine redundancy if "it would have been reasonable in all the circumstance for the person to be redeployed within (a) the employer’s enterprise; or (b) the enterprise of an associated entity of the employer".

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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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Recently, there have been a few articles in the national news covering the issue of employees who have been sacked via text message. As an employment law firm, we have also witnessed the use of email and other electronic means to terminate employees.

In the recent text message case, Fair Work Australia (FWA) had to decide whether an employee was unfairly dismissed when a retail shop owner, Ms Sarkis of Modestie Boutique in Liverpool , summarily dismissed her employee, Sedina Sokolovic by sending her a text message which read:

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

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