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.
Employment Law Archives - MDC Legal
By Conor Fahey, Lawyer
Can a refusal to accept a pay cut result in a genuine redundancy? employers will need to ensure that before enacting any redundancy, there are genuine operational reasons underpinning the decision beyond mere reduction in salaries.
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.
A maximum term contract is a contract which automatically ends at the expiry of a specified period while giving either party the right to terminate prior to the specified expiry by giving notice. This can be contrasted with a fixed term contract, which is also for a specified period but which does not make provision for early termination.
Sticking to what you know when obtaining new employment may backfire when a client-specific restraint that protects an employer’s legitimate interest is likely to be enforceable and valid. It may be appropriate to widen the job search, and seek legal advice on your options.
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.
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.
MDC Legal has successfully defended an employer against an employee’s claims for unpaid visa expenses and bonuses exceeding $200,000. The applicant, Mr Bradley, was employed by the respondent, Binder Group Pty Ltd, as their WA Industrial Sales Manager and later as its National Sales Manager from July 2011 to April 2015. After resigning from his employment, Mr Bradley brought proceedings in the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (Commission) against Binder Group alleging that he was owed contractual benefits. All of Mr Bradley’s claims were rejected by the Commission.
Ms Heraud went on maternity leave in September 2013. She was due to return to her role in a senior position in July 2014. Meanwhile, Roy Morgan had a revenue downturn leading to a restructure of its operations, causing Ms Heraud’s role to be made redundant.
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.
In the recent case of Heraud v Roy Morgan Research Ltd  FCCA 185, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCCA) found that Roy Morgan Research Ltd (RMR) contravened provisions of the Fair Work Act (FW Act) by refusing an employee’s request for flexible working hours and making her redundant while she was on maternity leave.
A recent study1 of 97 public and private sector employers in Australia found that 40% of all personal leave was taken on Mondays, which is double any other day. 45% of employers surveyed believed that employees were absent on personal leave because they were “chucking a sickie”.