Welcome back to the ‘Silly Season’?

With a busy month ahead for many businesses holding work social functions and Christmas parties it is a good time to consider your workplace policies and practices and how they apply to social functions and behaviour that is outside the usual office or workspace. Our regular, seasonal warning is about the multiple risks facing an employer in holding work Christmas…
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FWC Reject Flexible Working Arrangement despite Medical and Custody Pressures

New provisions of the Fair Work Act allow a broader category of person to make a request for Flexible Work Arrangements. However, in a significant decision under the Secure Jobs Act’s flexible work provisions, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruled against an employee with irritable bowel syndrome who sought to continue working from home full-time. The employee, an advisor at…
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Large disability bias payout for “excluded” teacher

In the case of Studart-Teles and The Department of Education and Training (State of Victoria), the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal awarded $236,000 in damages to a long-serving language teacher for discrimination based on disability. The teacher, after suffering a spinal stroke in November 2018 that left him with significant disabilities, faced “exclusion” from Blackburn English Language School for two…
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Former Bondi Bar and Restaurant Penalised again

The Fair Work Commission has imposed $164,635 in penalties against the former operators of a bar and restaurant in Bondi for “extensive and deliberate” contraventions of the Fair Work Act. The fine comprised of a $137,196 penalty against the operating company, and a $27,439.20 penalty against the company’s former director. The penalties were imposed as a result of a failure…
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Breastfeeding employee wins discrimination claim

On 25 September 2023, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“Tribunal”) decided that a KFC franchisee indirectly discriminated against an employee by asking her to breastfeed her child in a small tent within a storeroom with no door. The Tribunal believes this to be the first reported Australian anti-discrimination case involving breastfeeding employees. (Complainant 202258 v Southern Restaurants (Vic) Pty…
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Policy and contracts requiring disclosure of prescription medication

A recent case before the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has illustrated that employers can decrease their risk of an unfair dismissal claim by putting in place mechanisms to deal with their drug and alcohol policies. In Sheldon Haigh v Platinum Blasting Services Pty Ltd [2023] FWC 2465 (26 September 2023) ( (“Platinum Blasting Services”) the commission found that correctly drafted…
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