Employee awarded damages in the sum of $1,442,404.50 for employers breach of contract

In this client alert we explore a case that has been litigated all the way to the High Court of Australia. The Court has been asked to answer a number of important questions that will affect employers across the nation:

1. Can an employee recover damages for psychiatric injury as a result of the employer’s breach of contract?
2. What duty do employers owe employees during the termination process?
3. Can an employee recover damages for psychiatric injury as a result of the termination of employment?

Does an Employer Need to Offer Overseas Redeployment Opportunities for a Redundancy to be Genuine?

Redundancies are an unfortunate but necessary part of the business cycle for a variety of reasons. The redundancy process can be quite complex and the recent decision of Alesia Khliustova v Isoton Pty Ltd [2023] FWC 658 is a particularly precautionary tale for employers looking to make roles redundant. The Isoton Decision which was recently handed down is significant, and is a useful illustration of when dismissal, because of redundancy, will be considered genuine.

Termination of the Employment Relationship

In our final publication of the Back-to-Basics Series, we look at the ways in which an employment relationship can be concluded and the specific steps to follow in order to avoid seeing the inside of a courtroom and/or making substantial unplanned financial contributions to the outbound employee’s bank balance. Furthermore, careful management when bringing an employment relationship to an end, for whatever reason, can be achieved so that the departing employee does not leave disgruntled and likely to damage the business’ reputation.

General Protections: Why Employers Should Take Heed

A claim for breach of the general protections, or as it is otherwise known, “adverse action”, is the lesser known of two predominant claims brought by employees in circumstances where their employment is terminated. While most employers are familiar with the threat of an unfair dismissal claim, fewer understand the risks associated with taking adverse action against an employee.

Managing Employee Bad Behaviour

Employee ‘bad behaviour’ is something most employers hope they do not have to deal with. For the most part, employees may not be suitable for the role, may perform poorly or the business just cannot support the role being performed anymore. These are all traditional and normal reasons for the resultant termination of the employee’s employment. However, most bosses find it challenging to deal with employees who are in breach of their employment contract or obligations because of their bad or inappropriate conduct. This article considers employee bad behaviour by examining the conduct that can get employees and their employers into trouble if not dealt with appropriately.

Terminating an employment agreement

There are many reasons why an employer and employee may want an employment relationship to end.  If the termination of the relationship is at the initiative of the employee, and the employee resigns, there is usually not any significant risk to an employer that there will be resulting claims by the employee, but this is not always the case. In this article, we examine the manner in which the relationship can be terminated and the associated risks, and how these risks may be obviated.

The Reasonable Notice Trap – The Importance of Written Contracts

As the nation begins to emerge from the COVID pandemic and businesses slowly recommence their ‘as usual’ activities, employers are understandably keen to return to commerce as soon as possible. No doubt, many sectors of industry were hit hard by the pandemic; industries such as hospitality, retail, travel and tourism, professional sports and the arts, and despite the welcome assistance of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper programme, in its various forms, redundancies were inevitable.

Redundancy in a COVID World

Australia has officially entered its first recession for 29 years after the economy went backwards in the March 2020 quarter. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 has continued to have a significant detrimental effect on many businesses across a variety of industries.

In addition, the upcoming changes to JobKeeper later this month will also result in some employers no longer receiving JobKeeper payments to subsidise wages. As a result, many businesses are considering their options to safeguard their business and reduce expenditure over the coming months.

Managing the End of Year Christmas Party – and the Aftermath

A quick Google search for career ending moves at the work Christmas Party may be an amusing exercise. However, at this time of the year it serves as a timely and educative reminder to both employers and employees that poor management, planning and behaviour can make the annual Christmas festivities, and their aftermath, a very sobering experience indeed. In our experience these events are notorious for being a potential breeding ground for inappropriate workplace behaviour and may put employers at risk of litigious actions such as sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination and unfair dismissal claims.

Ill or injured employees – what can employers do?

Can an employer terminate the employment of an ill or injured employee, who has been of work for sometime and is refusing or ignoring requests to attend independent medical examinations. Disability discrimination legislation allows an employer to terminate the employment of an employee where the employee is not able to fulfill the inherent requirements of the role as a result of the disability. However, the application of this defence is often difficult, as it means the employer needs to be sure by reference to compelling evidence (usually independent medical evidence) that this is the case.

Protecting the business when executives leave

The importance of the Senior Executives team for any business cannot be underestimated. They are ultimately responsible for the culture, performance and success of the business. However, what happens when a senior executive leaves the business. Have you considered how this may impact the business? What are the matters that any responsible business should consider in circumstances where a senior executive leaves?

Following on from our last article in relation to how to motivate senior executives, in this week’s article, we look at the factors an employer should consider ensuring the business is protected when senior employees wish to resign, or the business chooses to remove them.

Workforce Planning in a Slowing National Economy: A Timely Refresher on Change Management and Redundancies

With the Sydney housing boom slowing, in combination with a weakened Australia dollar and political instability as a consequence of the Turnbull government being ousted, it is no surprise that big corporates with large footprints in Australia are thinking about, and in the case of Singtel Optus (“Optus”), are in fact implementing significant restructuring and change management initiatives. As many of our readers would have seen in the news, Optus has announced plans to eliminate 400 local jobs in an effort to reduce its labour costs amid a more competitive landscape for telecommunications service providers in Australia.

Ready to get started or need help?