Resources: Blog

Conversations in Workplace Relations – November 2017


Departures, flexibility & interns

In this month’s edition of Conversations we look at: What a business should do to protect itself against sudden leadership departures; Managing flexible work requests and arrangements; The dangers of unpaid and under-paid employment; and Why one employer entered into a compliance deed to avoid potential worker exploitation. We then discuss the use of statutory declarations and the fallout of providing false statutory declarations & more.

In this month’s edition of Conversations we look at:

  • What a business should do to protect itself against sudden leadership departures.
  • Managing flexible work requests and arrangements.
  • The dangers of unpaid and under-paid employment.
  • Why one employer entered into a compliance deed to avoid potential worker exploitation.

We then discuss the use of statutory declarations and the fallout of providing false statutory declarations.

Workplace bullying remains a hot topic in 2017. This month we consider what bullying actually is, we look at the increased involvement of WHS regulators, and in Let Me Restart we analyse an interesting case where the FWC made orders against both the employer and the applicant employee.

Next in Say it, Don’t Spray it we look at a recent case involving serious misconduct and summary dismissal.

Finally, with the silly season in full swing it is a great opportunity for another listen, or for those of you who missed it last year – a first listen, to our Managing Director Athena Koelmeyer’s interview on ABC Radio National about what employers can learn from recent festive season silliness!

We hope you enjoy this edition of Conversations and that it sparks some interesting discussions over tea and Christmas cake at your workplace.


Departures, flexibility & interns

Bye, Bye, Bye – Is your business ready for sudden senior leadership departures?

The timing of the sudden resignation of the head coach of the Western Sydney Wanderers prior to the start of the A-league season was a shock to many. We take a look at the scenario in a corporate context and discuss how your business can prepare for unexpected high level management departures.


Flexed to the limit: How the Fair Work Act encourages flexibility in the workplace

Flexibility seems to be on top of most employees’ wish list so where does your business stand when it comes to approving requests for flexible working arrangements? We list the arrangements provided by the Fair Work Act and what employers should consider when introducing flexibility in the workplace.


The student becomes the master: When work experience turns into paid employment

In this blog we outline five key questions from the Fair Work Commission that employers should consider when determining if an unpaid work engagement amounts to employment.


Enterprise agreements, statutory declarations & The FWO

Top of the food (supply) chain: Woolworths enters compliance deed to eliminate trolley collector exploitation

What active steps can businesses take to ensure they are taking reasonable, proactive measures to avoid worker exploitation in the supply chain? We pinpoint some guidelines following on from one company’s compliance deed.


Why, I do declare! – Statutory declarations in the employment context

The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission recently quashed a decision to approve an Enterprise Agreement based on a false statutory declaration and referred the matter to the AFP for investigation. We discuss what a statutory declaration is and why they should not be signed without careful consideration.


The INNS and outs of adverse action: FWO prosecutes hotel owner for underpaying employees because of race

In its first ever underpayment prosecution relying on the race discrimination provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) the Fair Work Ombudsman has successfully established that two vulnerable employees were underpaid because of their race and/or national extraction. We take a closer look at the case and the employers obligations.


Bullying behaviour

Let me restart: Anti-bullying orders issued to employer and employee to reset the employment relationship

In many cases involving bullying allegations there are aspects of poor behaviour on both or many sides. We take a look at a recent case where the Fair Work Commission made orders against both the applicant and her employer.


Safety not guaranteed – Workplace bullying and work health and safety

We are used to the Fair Work Commission dealing with bullying allegations in the workplace but a recent case highlights the enforcement powers of work health and safety regulators where there has been a breach of the WHS laws arising from bullying behaviour.


Safety first

Say it, don’t spray it: Paint gun operator summarily dismissed for serious misconduct

It’s true that many safety breaches in the workplace are the result of momentary lapses in judgement, however employees who are recklessly indifferent to their health and safety obligations will not always be saved by arguing this point as illustrated in a recent case.


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

What does ‘bullied at work’ actually mean?

Often conduct complained about in the workplace is not actually bullying behaviour. Shane Koelmeyer, Director of Workplace Law, looks at what workplace bullying is and what it isn’t.


The Christmas work party and the law

We recently published Our Guide To Not Getting Your Tinsel In A Tangle This Silly Season to help employers prepare for the silly season. As we are in the midst of it now, last year's Law Report on Radio National with Workplace Law's Managing Director Athena Koelmeyer is a timely refresher on the topic.


Sydney FC FFA Cup winners 2017

Congratulations to Sydney FC on winning the FFA Cup!

To hold all three major football trophies at the same time is a great reward for all the Sydney FC players and coaches who are always striving to be better by maintaining successful habits.


Need a laugh...

Q:   Who is never hungry on Thanksgiving?
A:   The turkey because he's already stuffed!


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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