COVID19 - Employer Advice Service: CLICK HERE
FREE: Working from Home Checklist

HR Advice & Support Archives - MDC Legal

Apprentice unfairly dismissed for refusing to work overtime

Posted by | additional hours, Articles, HR Advice & Support, Terminations, Unfair Dismissals & Adverse Action, unfair dismissal | No Comments

By Renae Harg, Senior Associate and Madeleine Brown, Associate

The Fair Work Commission has ordered an employer to pay eight weeks’ wages to an apprentice after it found that an employee was unfairly dismissed for refusing to work additional hours on a Sunday. This decision is a reminder for employers to carefully consider whether requests to work additional hours are reasonable.

Read More
employee with disability

General Protections: Dismissing an Employee With a Disability

Posted by | HR Advice & Support, unfair dismissal | No Comments

By Renae Harg, Senior Associate and Miette Xamon, Law Clerk

Employer Found to Dismiss Employee Due to Disability

In April 2019, we published an article on the Federal Court decision of Robinson v Western Union Business Solutions (Australia) Pty Ltd [2018] FCA 1913. The Federal Court found the employee was dismissed due to his disability.

Read More

MDC Legal Workplace Update – Spring 2019

Posted by | Articles, complaince, confidentiality, Contracts, disciplinary action, HR Advice & Support, polices and procedures, Policies and Procedures, sexual harassment | No Comments

Its Spring! Although it’s still brisk and blustery out there – in the weather and many of our clients’ businesses – with some ongoing workplace issues this year being ensuring the correct classification of workers as either employees or independent contractors, permanent or casual engagement, and new developments in domestic violence leave entitlements and casual conversion rights.

Read More
Parental Leave

Parental Leave — Important Responsibilities As An Employer

Posted by | complaince, Doing Business in Australia, HR Advice & Support, leave entitlements, redundancy | No Comments

By Mark Cox, Director and Gemma Little, Associate

Key parental leave employer obligations explained

An employee has requested to work on a part-time basis on return from parental leave. Or a workplace change has resulted in an employee’s position being removed while they are on parental leave. As an employer, what are your obligations? This article outlines the key obligations an employer has while an employee is on, and when they return from, parental leave. Read More

Overtime and Reasonable Additional Hours

Overtime and Reasonable Additional Hours in Australia

Posted by | additional hours, HR Advice & Support, modern award | No Comments

By Joanna Knoth, Senior Associate and Gemma Little, Associate

An employee is not be entitled to be paid for any “reasonable additional hours” they work. However, an employee may be entitled to be paid overtime, penalty rates or other allowances for time worked outside of or in addition to their ordinary hours of work if they are covered by an award or enterprise agreement.

Read More
how long do employers need to keep employee records

Record Keeping Requirements for Employers: What You Need to Know

Posted by | complaince, HR Advice & Support, Terminations, Unfair Dismissals & Adverse Action | No Comments

By Gemma Little, Associate

Keeping employment records is your responsibility as an employer

Everyone knows that employers must keep employee records, right? Apparently not. Some employers have been caught out because they have either not kept adequate employee records, or not kept employee records at all. Read More

Terminating an Employee with Mental Health Issues

Terminating an Employee with Mental Health Issues – Federal Court Ruling

Posted by | disciplinary action, HR Advice & Support, redundancy, Terminations, Unfair Dismissals & Adverse Action | No Comments

By Mark Cox, Director and Renae Harg, Senior Associate 

Federal Court Ruling Highlights the Complexity of Terminating the Employment of an Employee with Mental Health Issues

The Federal Court ruling in Robinson v Western Union Business Solutions (Australia) Pty Ltd [2018] FCA 1913 highlights the complexities in terminating the employment of unwell employees, including employees with mental health issues. Read More

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? New Year resolutions for employers in 2019

Posted by | casual staff, Contracts, HR Advice & Support, modern award, pay rates, polices and procedures, Policies and Procedures, training | No Comments

By Joanna Knoth, Senior Associate and Renae Harg, Senior Associate

Now that the festive season is over, employers can focus on the year ahead. What New Year’s resolutions are you making for your business?
Below are some practical New Year’s resolutions that may minimise your employment law risks.

Read More

When to Deal with Misconduct During the Festive Season

Posted by | Articles, HR Advice & Support, misconduct | No Comments

By Mark Cox, Director & Miette Xamon, Law Clerk 

Misconduct in the workplace can be a tricky matter for employers to deal with, which is often made more difficult due to Christmas shut downs and staff annual leave. There are 5 steps that an employer should consider when investigating misconduct and deciding to take disciplinary action to mitigate the risk that an employee (either the person alleged to have engaged in misconduct, or the person on the receiving end of that conduct) will mount legal claims.

Read More

Long Christmas lunches and excessive online shopping: Tips for employers

Posted by | disciplinary action, disciplinary policies, HR Advice & Support, Performance Management & Misconduct Investigations | No Comments

By Nikita Barsby, Special Counsel and Renae Harg, Senior Associate

Some employees may see the Christmas period as an opportunity to focus more on festive season activities and less on work. Employees may spend excessive time away from the office, having lunch or Christmas shopping. Other employees may spend excessive time online, shopping for Christmas presents or planning Christmas activities, or excessive time decorating the office. These types of behaviours can be difficult for employers to manage, without appearing Grinch-like and while still ensuring staff morale remains positive over the busy Christmas period.

Read More

Managing the workplace Christmas party aftermath

Posted by | Christmas party, complaince, disciplinary action, HR Advice & Support, leave entitlements, out of hours behaviour, Performance Management & Misconduct Investigations, workplace investigations | No Comments

By Nikita Barsby, Special Counsel and Madeleine Brown, Associate 

Even the most well managed work Christmas parties sometimes don’t go to plan. We highlight below how to deal with the aftermath if things go wrong.

Read More

Party Planning What to do before the Christmas Party

Posted by | Articles, HR Advice & Support, Performance Management & Misconduct Investigations, sexual harassment, Terminations, Unfair Dismissals & Adverse Action, Work Christmas party | No Comments

By Joanna Knoth, Senior Associate and Lauren Wright, Lawyer

As we rapidly approach the end of the year, the office Christmas party can be cause for concern for many employers. There are two key issues that employers should turn their mind to when planning the party.

Read More

Say what? Navigating Unlawful Interview Questions

Posted by | Articles, Discrimination & Bullying, HR Advice & Support | No Comments

By Nikita Barsby, Special Counsel and Lauren Wright, Lawyer

An interview provides an employer with an opportunity to get to know prospective employees and assess their suitability for employment. Often, there are many questions an employer wants to ask a prospective employee – however care should be taken to avoid questions which can later be relied on by the interviewee to mount legal claims.

Read More

Keeping it casual: Casual employee entitled to annual leave

Posted by | complaince, Contracts, contractual entitlements, HR Advice & Support, leave entitlements, modern award | No Comments

By Renae Harg, Senior Associate and Lauren Wright, Lawyer 

WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131

The Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has rejected WorkPac’s argument that the “industrial meaning” of the term “casual employee” has been incorporated into the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) for the purpose of the National Employment Standards (NES).

Read More

Are you being underpaid? Are you underpaying your staff?

Posted by | Articles, complaince, Contracts, contractual entitlements, HR Advice & Support, modern award | No Comments

By Nikita Barsby, Special Counsel and Lauren Wright, Lawyer

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) recently conducted an audit of businesses throughout the eastern states of Australia which found that 72% of the businesses had breached workplace laws.[1] The audit resulted in the recovery of $471,904 for 616 workers across the 234 businesses audited. The most common breach was an underpayment of hourly rates, followed by non-existent or inadequate employment records.

Read More

Directing an employee to attend an independent medical assessment

Posted by | contractual entitlements, Dispute Resolution & Advocacy, HR Advice & Support, leave entitlements | No Comments

By Mark Cox, Director, Gemma Little, Associate and Lauren Wright, Lawyer

The winter months often bring an increase in employees’ use of personal leave, primarily due to illness. An employee’s brief and temporary absence, whether due to illness or even injury, supported by adequate medical evidence, can usually be managed by the employer without issue.

However, difficulty and uncertainty arise where an employee takes extended personal leave with medical evidence that has little or no detail on the illness or injury suffered, or which offers no foreseeable return to work date. An employee’s extended absence can pose significant issues for the management and operation of a business. Navigating this situation can become increasingly complex if an employee has taken personal leave in response to a disciplinary or performance management process.

Read More

Domestic violence leave in Australia

Posted by | Articles, Dispute Resolution & Advocacy, HR Advice & Support | No Comments

By Lauren Wright, Lawyer 

In the employment law space, there has been growing debate on whether all Australian employees should have a minimum entitlement to take either paid or unpaid domestic violence leave. The debate was reinvigorated in March, when, as part of the four-yearly review of modern awards, the Fair Work Commission introduced 5 days’ unpaid domestic violence leave for all award-covered employees.

Read More

What’s in a name: The effect of a position title on Modern Award coverage

Posted by | Articles, complaince, Contracts, HR Advice & Support, modern award, Terminations, Unfair Dismissals & Adverse Action, Training & Compliance | No Comments

By Mark Cox, Director and Ruth Collins, Lawyer 

It is a common misconception amongst employers that a senior position title and high income can exclude an employee from being covered by a modern award. Not so. Instead, employers must look to the principle purpose of the position the employee was performing to assess whether it is covered by the classifications of roles covered by the award.

Read More

LinkedIn or “LockedOut”? Policies and restraints on employee use of Social Media

Posted by | Articles, Dispute Resolution & Advocacy, HR Advice & Support, Industrial Relations, Restraints of Trade, Training & Compliance | No Comments

By Mark Cox, Director and Lauren Wright, Lawyer 

LinkedIn is one example of how new technologies and social media “disruptors” are intercepting with the workplace in ways that challenge our traditional notions of employment rights and obligations.

Read More

What are your business’ New Year’s workplace relations resolutions?

Posted by | Articles, Contracts, Discrimination & Bullying, Dispute Resolution & Advocacy, HR Advice & Support, Industrial Relations, Terminations, Unfair Dismissals & Adverse Action | No Comments

By Nikita Barsby, Special Counsel 

HRD Australia recently reported that the success rate of Australian employers in unfair dismissal cases has dropped below 40% for the first time – while these remain the claim of choice for employees, with an unfair dismissal claim lodged every three and a half minutes in Australia.1

We expect hot topics for workplaces will include managing poor performance and bullying and stress claims, avoiding award or NES breach claims (and the risk of huge new penalties) or discrimination claims.

Read More

External advisers and HR managers accessorily liable for breaches of the Fair Work Act as penalties for breaches intensify on small businesses

Posted by | HR Advice & Support, Industrial Relations, Performance Management & Misconduct Investigations | No Comments

By MDC Legal

In a recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court an external accountant who advised a business on its employee arrangements was held liable under the accessorial provisions of the Fair Work Act. This decision is a red flag to external advisors who are closely involved with HR, payroll and employee entitlements of employer businesses.

Read More

Performance and Conduct Issues for Employees Raising Mental Illness

Posted by | Articles, HR Advice & Support, Performance Management & Misconduct Investigations | No Comments

By Nikita Barsby, Special Counsel 

Around 45% of Australians aged between 16 and 85 will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and 1 in 5 Australian adults will experience a mental illness in any given year.[1]  Therefore, it is very likely that from time to time an employer will need to performance manage an employee who is experiencing a mental illness.

Read More
Employment lawyer with a briefcase

Choosing the Right Workplace Lawyer in WA

Posted by | Articles, Discrimination & Bullying, HR Advice & Support, Terminations, Unfair Dismissals & Adverse Action | No Comments

By Mark Cox, Director & Joanna Knoth, Senior Associate

Employment law covers a broad range of complex legal issues affected by layers of common law and statute across state and federal jurisdictions. These legal issues begin in business set up or acquisition stage, with transmission of business, recruitment of new employees, establishing suitable contracts, and complying with awards and National Employment Standards – establishing the employment relationship.

Read More

Employing “permanent” casuals: what are the benefits and risks for your business?

Posted by | Articles, Contracts, HR Advice & Support | No Comments

By Nicholas Parkinson, Lawyer

If employees are inappropriately classified as casuals, they may be able to bring claims against their employer for breaches of Modern Awards or the Fair Work Act 2009. They may also be able to claim that their employer has misrepresented their workplace rights. In these circumstances, employees will be entitled to seek compensation as well as penalties of up to $54,000 against the employer for each breach or misrepresentation.

Read More

Cutting Costs Can Cost You More: The Cautionary Tale of Roussety v Castricum Brothers

Posted by | Articles, HR Advice & Support, Training & Compliance | No Comments

By Ruth Collins, Lawyer 

In the recent case of Joseph Roussety v Castricum Brothers Pty Ltd the Supreme Court of Victoria was called upon to consider an employee’s negligence claim for overwork causing psychiatric injury. This case serves as a salient reminder that an employer owes a duty to take reasonable care to avoid any foreseeable risk of injury arising from an employee’s circumstances of employment. In particular, it warns of the dangers of cost cutting without having regard to the effect on existing employees.

Read More

Disciplining Employee Out of Hours Behaviour: A Blurred Line

Posted by | Articles, HR Advice & Support, Performance Management & Misconduct Investigations, Training & Compliance | No Comments

By MDC Legal

Not so long ago, there was a clear line between work and play – between conduct at work and employees’ private lives, with the latter being none of the employer’s business. Now, due to advances in technology (particularly information technology), the expansive reach of social media, and because employees are increasingly working from anywhere, the boundary between work life and private life has blurred.

Read More