Work Health and Safety

Annual Employment Law Wrap Up: The year that was and the changes still to come  

As the year comes to a close, and businesses start to get ready for the end of the year shut down period, it is an opportune time for businesses to reflect on the changes which have been made in the employment law space during 2023 and the commensurate changes these have necessitated in business practice and policy. However, businesses should ensure that they also do not lose track of the changes which will be implemented before the holiday shut down period. As such, this article serves both as a reminder of the amendments which have come into effect this year as well as those which will come into effect in the upcoming weeks.

Get Your House In Order: AHRC Releases Guidelines for Employer “Positive Duty” to Eliminate Sexual Harassment

Whilst the Positive Duty came into effect in December 2022, there has been limited practical guidance on how the employers’ Positive Duty could be fulfilled until the AHRC published its ‘Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)’ (“Guidelines”) in August 2023.The Guidelines set out practical steps and provide organisations and businesses with examples and guidance regarding the steps required to discharge their Positive Duty.

Labour’s New Amibitious Labour Laws

The industrial landscape of Australia has changed rapidly in recent years, with the evolution of the gig-economy and business’ over-reliance on labour hire arrangements and the increasing casualisation of the workforce. This shift has exacerbated insidious consequences such as prolific wage theft, gender inequality, and job insecurity. The new Labour Government headed by Anthony Albanese (“Labour”) is taking direct aim at some of these issues, with a series of vision statements and plans that espouse commitment to stamping out sexual harassment at work, improving job security, facilitating pathways to permanent work, and securing equal pay.

Do Employers Owe a Positive Duty to Prevent Sexual Harassment at Work?

In 2018, sexual harassment was at the forefront of the public psyche. In response to an industrial landscape rife with sexual harassment, the Respect@Work campaign was launched. After two years of research, in March 2020, the Australian Human Rights Commission (“AHRC”) released the Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report (“the Report”) which made 55 recommendations to prevent sexual harassment and to improve responses to complaints. Among these recommendations was the concept of imposing a ‘positive’ duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The rationale was that this approach will lighten the burden on victims and attempt to overcome circumstances where employees feel they are unable to make complaints or adequately resolve issues, due to fears around job security or being treated differently.

Workplace Bullying: Not Only Harmful; Costly, Too

Workplace Bullying as an issue is not new, however it remains very prevalent in Australian workplaces. In fact, in research conducted by the Australian Workplace Barometer at the University of Adelaide in 2021, Australia ranked third worst in bullying rates compared to 34 countries in Europe. In research conducted by the same organisation in 2019, it found that two thirds of employees suffered from bullying at work.

Bullying in the workplace is very bad for business. Not only can it result in significant legal claims, but more often than not, it translates into lost revenue as a result of personal leave days, absenteeism, lack of motivation and productivity and poor morale and turnover of employees.

Managing Risk At Work Christmas Parties In The Era of COVID-19

As Australians emerge from lengthy lockdowns and are making their way back to the workplace, we are expecting a number of companies to hold their end of year work Christmas party as a way to reconnect their staff before the new year. In this alert, we explore the various ways employers can mitigate the risk associated with work Christmas parties and safeguard the business especially in the era of COVID-19.

COVID-19, Working from Home, Mental Health Challenges and the Office Christmas Party!

As we have covered in previous client alerts, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a raft of unique challenges for employers striving to maintain safety, efficiency and productivity, and employees who, perhaps for the first time in their working lives, are now consistently working from home. For many of these employees, feelings of social isolation have led to reports of anxiety and depression, and with the Silly Season just around the corner, this means some serious red flags for employers. In this client alert we examine some of the current difficulties, and projected difficulties that COVID-19, will have on employees, and how best employers might deal with them.

Bullying in the Workplace – No matter where you work

Workplace bullying is a dynamic and complex phenomenon, its causes are often multifaceted and its impact individual and varied. It can have a profound effect on all aspects of a person’s health as well as their work and family life, undermining self-esteem, productivity and morale. For some it can result in a permanent departure from the labour market and in extreme cases, suicide.

Returning to Work in a Brave New World

Whilst we are by no means in the clear with respect to COVID-19, Federal and State Governments have confirmed that the raft of expedient measures taken by the majority of Australians, such as social distancing, border closures, home isolation and so forth, has seen an ever decreasing reduction in infection rates to the point that on Monday 11 May, NSW recorded its first day of no new infections since lockdown commenced.

Ready to get started or need help?