Resources: Blog

Conversations in Workplace Relations – December 2017


Getting social with it

We cover a range of issues and wrap things up in our final Conversations for this year.

Thanks for taking the time to read our final Conversations for 2017.

In this month’s edition we discuss some of the year’s more interesting cases involving the use of social media in Social Savvy and, while this is a merry and sociable time of the year, we discuss what employers should think about when it comes to social events in You’re Invited.

Personal liability has been a hot topic in 2017 with HR managers, directors, payroll and accountants all being the centre of disputes for underpayment claims. We look at one case where an HR Manager was ordered to pay over $20,000 for her role and in Time after Time we examine what happened to re-offending directors for their breaches of the Fair Work Act.

In our unfair dismissal round up, we discuss what actually constitutes industrial action in Captain Underpants and in Send me Your Location we examine the use of GPS tracking on employees. In A bird, a bus… we also remind everyone that reinstatement remains the primary remedy in unfair dismissal matters.

We touch on the value and challenges of psychological testing in recruitment in It’s all in the mind.

We wrap things up with the next part of our series for Human Resources Director magazine on workplace bullying and Athena Koelmeyer’s interview with Smart Company on what to do when an employee makes Facebook comments contrary to an employer’s Code of Conduct.


Getting social with it

Social savvy – Our 2017 wrap-up of social media in the workplace

There is no doubt that social media has changed workplace relations and throughout this year, courts and employers have continued to iron out the wrinkles in how they deal with social media in the workplace. We look back on some of the more interesting cases of 2017.


You’re invited! (but BYO party): Organising social events for employees

The intention to establish a positive “workplace culture” through employer-sponsored social events and team-building is all well and good but employers should carefully consider how best to implement those activities and whether they actually will improve the workplace’s culture.


Personal liability

Look what you made me do: Human resources manager ordered to pay $21,760 for her participation in underpayments and falsifying records

The Fair Work Ombudsman was recently successful in its prosecution of a Chinese restaurant as well as its sole director, its human resources manager and its store manager for various breaches of the Fair Work Act. This makes it clear that the FWO is prepared to prosecute not only employers, but also individuals and third parties ‘involved in’ contraventions of the Fair Work Act.


Time after time: Re-offending directors and their cleaning company to pay hefty penalties for breaching FW Act

In a recent Federal Circuit Court decision the Judge ordered hefty penalties against a Perth cleaning company and two of its directors. Significantly, the directors were found to have a history of exploiting vulnerable workers and to be personally liable for the contraventions.


Unfair dismissals

Captain Underpants: Undies protest not industrial action – so what is?

A national campaign with the slogan #SaveDave, which took the dismissal of a union representative employee all the way to the Fair Work Commission, has highlighted to employers the importance of recognising what is, and what is not, lawful industrial action.


Send me your location: Use of GPS devices in the workplace

If your employees perform some or all of their roles away from the office it is likely that their vehicles or devices are subject to GPS tracking. We discuss why employers should be upfront about GPS tracking of ‘field’ employees. We also look at an unfair dismissal case involving GPS tracking, alleged absenteeism and interference with a GPS device.


A bird, a bus and a bruised (but not broken) employment relationship: Remedies for unfair dismissal applications

Some employers are unaware that reinstatement is the primary remedy available to an employee claiming unfair dismissal under the Fair Work Act. As demonstrated in a recent case, the Fair Work Commission has shown that it will have regard to a number of factors when considering whether reinstatement is appropriate in the circumstances.



It’s all in the mind – Psychological and psychometric testing in the workplace

Recently, the South Australian government announced that two of its employees engaged as carers were found unsuitable to work with children, following the introduction of a new testing and screening process involving psychological testing. This testing regime raises some interesting questions about the value of psychological testing for employers.


If there is a particular topic you would like covered we would love to hear from you so please email us at


In the Media

Workplace bullying – common sources of complaints

Within the workplace, there are some incidences in which bullying complaints commonly arise. Workplace Law’s Director, Shane Koelmeyer, says that HR professionals need to ensure that performance management and disciplinary processes are ‘reasonable’.


Nurse stood down over Facebook rant, prompting warnings on social media policies

Managing Director at Workplace Law, Athena Koelmeyer, speaks to Smart Company about a recent case that demonstrates how an employer may view online comments as a breach of a code of conduct even if the commentary doesn’t directly reference an employer.


Stay tuned for our next update in the new year which will feature our predictions on what will be the main issues in workplace relations during 2018.


Sydney FC's winning culture

Congratulations to both the A-league and W-league Sydney FC teams for their big derby wins!

The hard working ‘’team first’ winning culture across the entire Sydney FC club is a great example for all organisations of what can be achieved when you get your recruitment and culture right.



If you have a moment...

2018 Payroll Benchmarking Survey

Every year Australian Payroll Association (APA) completes valuable research in their annual payroll benchmarking survey. The survey looks at the cost of payroll in Australia as well as salary costs across locations, employer size and industries.

APA invites you to participate in this unique survey.

All survey participants will receive a copy of the 2018 Payroll Benchmarking Report in February 2018.

This complimentary report is only available to survey participants who complete the online survey by the closing date.

The survey takes approximately ten minutes to complete and the APA welcomes your participation.

You can find the survey here (available until 22 December 2017).

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact the team at Australian Payroll Association.


The team at Workplace Law would like to wish you and your family a very safe and happy holiday season!

We thank you for your support during 2017 and we look forward to bringing you more updates on current workplace issues and trends in 2018.



Need a laugh...

Q: How much did Santa pay for his sleigh?
A: Nothing, it was “on the house”.

"I heard some strange chatter from the spice cupboard mid-December. But it was just the Season’s greetings".


Should you require any further information or assistance, please contact our Director Shane Koelmeyer on (02) 9256 7500 or via email on

Information provided in this update is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this update, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.


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FWC upholds objection to constructive dismissal claim

Construction zone

In order to access the unfair dismissal jurisdiction, an employee must be “dismissed” from their employment by the employer. One of the instances in which an employee may be “dismissed” from their employment is if they were forced to resign because of the employer’s conduct or course of conduct.


Court penalises accountant for involvement in employer’s failure to keep employee records

Put your records on

The Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) impose a number of obligations on employers with respect to the making and keeping of employee records and pay slips.


The onus and presumption in adverse action matters

It’s on you

Under the general protections provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), it is unlawful for a person to take adverse action against another person for a proscribed reason. One of the features of the general protections provisions under the FW Act is the presumption that adverse action was taken for a proscribed reason unless it is proven that the adverse action was not taken for that reason.


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