General

Let’s Not Be Silly During The Silly Season

With the Christmas and New Year period upon us, many employers will be celebrating the end of 2017 with their employees. Whilst the 2016 comedy film “Office Christmas Party” is an extravagant portrayal of a Christmas function gone bad and which seems, in many ways an over-exaggeration of what really happens, in our experience these Christmas events are notorious for being a potential breeding ground for inappropriate workplace behavior. These parties and events may put employers at risk of litigious actions such as sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination and unfair dismissal claims.

Quarterly Round-Up of Legal Developments in Employment Law

There have been a number of interesting legal matters heard by our judicial system within the employment law area in the last quarter. In this legal briefing, we provide an overview of two informative and instructive cases for employers, each dealing with their own unique and distinct employment law issue. In addition, we provide a timely update as to the progress of the union movement’s appeal to the Federal Court of Australia in the penalty rates decision that was handed down earlier this year.

What Type of Employment is Best?

Hiring a new employee is a crucial decision in any business. However, deciding on the most appropriate employment relationship for a growing business can be a daunting prospect. With so many types of employment arrangements now available such as full-time and part-time permanent employment, casual employment, temporary employment, internships and fixed term employment to name a few, each with their own respective advantages and disadvantages, it can be difficult to know which is the most appropriate arrangement to use for your business. It is crucial for employers to understand the differences between the respective ways in which an employee can be engaged, so as to enable the business to make an appropriate decision regarding the make-up of its workforce. In addition, incorrectly classifying an employment relationship can have serious detrimental consequences. In this article, we provide a summary of some of the most popular employment arrangements and how they can be used.

If You Cannot Find It – You Cannot Rely on It: The Importance of Contract Administration

With the arduous task of conducting performance appraisals out of the way, many employers understandably think the hard yards have been done. Although carrying out performance reviews may necessitate both positive and negative conversations with employees, depending on the kind of feedback being provided, many employers often disregard a fundamental and imperative step in the process to consolidate such discussions.

How to Manage “Serial Sickies”: What can you do about employees taking repetitive sick leave?

Some employees hardly take any personal leave, and continue to accrue their personal leave days each year. However, on the other end of the spectrum, some employees appear to take vast amounts of sick leave, and often in excess of the statutory minimum of 10 days paid personal leave each year. Interestingly and possibly not surprising, a recent workplace investigation found that about 50% of all unplanned absenteeism was not medically related and costs businesses a staggering $33 billion annually. In this regard, the difficulty faced by employers is the ability to identify the reasons for sick leave, address any issues that may be a relevant factor in an employee taking “serial sickies” and dealing with the issue in an effective manner.

Domestic Violence – Why Is It Now An Issue At Work?

The incidence of domestic violence appears to be on the increase and it is now a much discussed social issue in Australia. The statistics regarding domestic violence in Australia are horrifying – one in six women, and one in 20 men, have experienced violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15. Just in the last week there were two instances of serious injury from domestic violence reported by mainstream media.

Jury Duty – What Must Employers Know?

In NSW, each year approximately 200,000 potential jurors are randomly selected from the NSW Electoral Roll and included on a jury list. Approximately 150,000 of these people are sent a jury summons notice at some point in the year. This notice will require them to attend Court where they may be selected as a juror for a specific trial.

Turning Over a New Leaf: New Year’s Resolutions for HR Managers

Happy 2017! The start of a new year is usually a time many of us reflect on what we would like to achieve in our personal lives in the year to come. However, many of us don’t take the time to reflect on our work or professional lives in the same way. With the new year in full swing, we thought now was a perfect opportunity to consider some of the leading themes emerging in the employment law arena already this year, with a view to discussing some of the steps you can take to ensure your business stays on the right track.

CAN I HAVE MY CAKE AND EAT IT TOO?

On Wednesday and Thursday last week Shana Schreier-Joffe of our office was invited to attended and present at the Global Mobility and Skills Forum in Adelaide. This was an international conference designed to explore the challenges facing business in dealing with skill acquisition and an increasingly mobile workforce.

There were numerous very experienced and thought provoking speakers at the conference, however one of the speakers, Aaron LePoidevin made a number of comments that we think require further discussion and consideration.

PRIVACY IN THE WORKPLACE

Employers are not always aware of their obligations in relation to privacy in the workplace. The invasion of employee privacy can occur in a number of different ways including through records and information, physical and electronic surveillance and monitoring. In Australia, several different legislative instruments govern how employers deal with employee privacy issues and different rules apply depending on the use of such information prior to and during employment.

From an organisational perspective, the advancement of digital workplaces and technology has increased the amount of information employers can access about employees. In addition the line between work and employees’ private lives has been considerably blurred in recent times as a result of social media and the breakdown of traditional working hours and modes of work.

Romance in the Workplace

People spend a significant amount of time with each other at work, it is therefore perhaps unsurprising that workplace relationships are common with which many employers need to deal. Most employers are often mortified at the prospect of having to discuss intimate or personal details with their employees and usually adopt the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. However, not only can a workplace romance impact on other employees, if such relationships sour, they can develop into bullying and sexual harassment claims, leaving the business and human resource professionals left to pick up the pieces. It is thus important for employers to know how to effectively manage these situations and ensure reasonable measures are in place so the business is not adversely affected.

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