Posts: Policies

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Policies

Employer fined for failing to effectively enforce safe systems

Safety Is Not A "Sometimes Thing"

The NSW District Court has convicted and fined a KFC franchisee after a young worker sustained third degree burns when his foot slipped into hot oil while he was cleaning the hoods of an overhead ventilation system.

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Server dismissed for inappropriate conduct towards co-workers

Out of service

Dismissing an employee for inappropriate conduct can be a challenging process, particularly when the employee does not accept that their conduct was inappropriate.

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The importance of correctly characterising employee conduct

In the driver’s sheet

Employers regularly have to deal with issues relating to employee behaviour, work performance and misconduct.

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Social media, sporting clubs and athletes

Doing It For The 'Gram

Since it arrived in Australia, Uber has been under fire for its disruption of the transport industry and its complicated relationship with its drivers.

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Director ordered to training following due diligence failure

Pay Attention

The model Work Health and Safety Act (Model Act) imposes a duty on officers to exercise due diligence to ensure that the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) complies with safety duties.

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The FWC on employee disputes and workplace bullying

The Clash

When emotions are running high and differences are unable to be resolved, employees often turn to the anti-bullying jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

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Injunctions against suspensions from work

Ten in the bin

A suspension is a reasonable and lawful direction from an employer where, for the period of suspension, an employee will not be required to perform their duties in the usual manner they would normally be performed.

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FWC upholds dismissals from workplace with “robust environment”

A break from banter

It is becoming increasingly challenging for employers and employees to understand where the line is between a relaxed, open and friendly workplace culture

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FWC finds employee’s persistent breaches justified dismissal

On repeat

The matter involved a history or unacceptable conduct by an employee that resulted in the termination of his employment.

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Managing the new family and domestic violence leave entitlement

Handle with care

The introduction of family and domestic violence leave entitlements into modern awards and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) last year was a significant development in Australian workplace relations.

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Workplace culture gone wrong and how to make it right

Culture club

What does “workplace culture” really mean and what happens when workplace culture becomes damaged or toxic?

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The importance of documented and accessible safe systems of work

Is it safe???

A workplace incident involving a worker struck by a forklift has demonstrated the importance of having documented systems of work and induction processes in place that are accessible for all workers.

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Worker injured whilst visiting the workplace suffers work-related injury

Free Fallin'

Under workers compensation legislation, an employer will only be liable for an injury if that injury arises out of or in the course of the worker’s employment.

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Personal devices in the work context

Personal-IT

With so much information at our finger tips, it is easy for the personal and the professional to be confused. This is particularly the case where employees can BYOD (bring your own device) and use their personal devices for work purposes.

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Employer considerations for pet-friendly workplaces

Paw patrol

Pets are widely understood to have the effect of improving an individual’s mood and reducing levels of stress and anxiety, sentiments that are invaluable in a workplace.

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Imported item 102

PCBU fined $375,000 following death of turf stacker

In yet another decision resulting from a tragic workplace safety incident, an employer has been fined $375,000 after one of its workers was fatally crushed by a turf harvester.

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Flight attendant’s claim that excessive drinking was not his fault rejected by FWC in unfair dismissal case

Flight of fancy

Fair Work Commission (FWC) considered whether a flight attendant was unfairly dismissed after he failed to attend for work following a night out in New York.

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The risks of providing unfavourable or false references

You say it best when you say nothing at all

There are range of important considerations for those delivering references to take into account and often conflicting interests can creep into the equation.

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The 76ers Twitter saga and confidentiality in the employment relationship

Nothing but Net

Sports and pop culture website named ‘The Ringer’ published a report about the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers that sparked controversy worldwide.

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Managing emojis in the workplace

A New World Language

It started out as the humble smiley emoticon “:-)” in 1982 created by a computer scientist who wanted a “joke marker” to help people decipher his jokes in emails.

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Inappropriate workplace behaviour justified summary dismissal

Not on the shop floor

In a clear sign that employers should act on inappropriate behaviour, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has held that an employee’s dismissal for serious misconduct arising from his unacceptable behaviour was not unfair.

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Employer ordered to advise employees about FWC’s stop-bullying orders

Show and Tell

The purpose of the Fair Work Commission’s anti-bullying jurisdiction is not to punish bullies or to compensate an individual who has been bullied but to prevent future bullying in the workplace.

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Getting your mobile phone policies right

You used to call me on my cell phone

It is rare to come across someone who does not have their mobile phone in their hand, pocket, bag or otherwise within reaching distance at all times.

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Facebook and Google’s new workplace dating policy

One strike and you’re out

In a proactive attempt to combat the issue of workplace sexual harassment, Facebook and Google have implemented new policies on dating in the workplace. This new approach adopts a “one strike and you’re out” rule, which states that employees only have one opportunity to ask a co-worker out on a date.

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Understanding and preventing employee financial misconduct

The need for checks and balances on cheques and bank balances

Financial misconduct committed by employees is unfortunately all too common in Australian businesses. It can range from invoice forgery to stealing from the register to abusing expense reimbursement entitlements or corporate credit cards.

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Worker’s aggressive response was a breach of Code of Conduct and warranted summary dismissal

Well that escalated quickly

Implementing a Code of Conduct is vital to establish and maintain expected standards of behaviour in the workplace. For some workplaces, it may also be appropriate for organisations to regulate the out-of-hours conduct and behaviour of employees.

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What can we say in our appearance policies and dress codes about beards?

Close shave

The rate of men growing their beards is increasing all thanks to the current hipster trend. Beards may be non-controversial in some working environment and not permitted in others. When confronted with a growing trend towards facial hair, employers requiring a clean shaven look may be challenged as to the reasonableness (or otherwise) of their appearance requirements for employees.

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How videos and social media can destabilise your team

Are you rolling with the team?

Recently sports and news outlets were abuzz after video emerged of a NBA player captured on video allegedly confessing to cheating on his celebrity girlfriend. The twist in the tale was that the video was secretly filmed by one of his team mates and without the player’s knowledge.

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Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace

Where there is smoke, is there fire?

An increasing number of workplaces have introduced drug and alcohol policies which include random drug testing. These introductions are not always warmly welcomed.

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Sick leave and the modern workplace

Sick and tired of it

Both ‘workplace warriors’ and ‘sickie’ takers are bad for the modern workplace but there are ways that employers and employees can facilitate a change in attitude towards sick leave.

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What does your Enterprise Agreement really say?

Employers must be careful when drafting and negotiating Enterprise Agreements

On 8 October 2015 Justices Jessup, Bromberg and White of the Federal Court of Australia handed down separate judgments relating to the La Trobe University Enterprise Agreement. This decision may now see employers paying closer attention to what is contained within their policies and enterprise agreements.

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Hammering home that sexual harassment not tolerated

Sexual harassment not tolerated

Last week it was reported that a Bunnings Warehouse (Bunnings) in Melbourne took the unusual step of banning customers (certain tradesmen) from its store for harassing female employees.

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When employees leave but their online profile says otherwise

If you leave me – Can I come too?

What should employers do when employees leave the business and fail to update their online profiles to reflect the change? Here are our top tips for ensuring that exiting employees don’t damage your business’ reputation because they failed to update their employment status online.

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How “sickies” and presenteeism hurt employers

Baby it's cold outside

Cold and flu season is upon us again, which means employers should be planning for the inevitable round of absences. This time of the year presents many challenges for employers, so here are our practical tips for managing the winter months.

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Why it is important to have clearly written and communicated workplace policies

Loud and Clear

When an employer decides it would like to implement a new policy or amend one of its existing policies, key steps in the process are sometimes overlooked – communication and training.

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Employer permitted to stop delegates wearing shirts with union logo

It’s My Prerogative

In a recent Fair Work Commission decision in Alcoa of Australia Limited v AWU [2016] FWC 3582, the FWC looked at whether Alcoa was entitled to require all employees, including AWU delegates covered by the World Alumina Australia WA Operations AWU Enterprise Agreement 2014, and working on the Western Australia Mining site, to comply with the terms of the Western Australian Mining Dress Policy.

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You can leave your hat on (but take the union sticker off)

Managerial prerogative

We recently discussed managerial prerogative and the ability for management to direct employees not to wear shirts with a union logo on them in accordance with the employer’s policy. The issue with respect to union material on employee work uniforms again came before the Fair Work Commission in CEPU, AMWU, CFMEU v Laing O’Rouke Australia Construction Pty Ltd [2016] FWC 3699.

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Our 2017 wrap-up of social media in the workplace

Social savvy

There is no doubt that social media has changed workplace relations. It has impacted the employment relationship and the relationships employees have with each other. We look back on some of the more interesting social media cases from the year that was 2017.

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Employee access and use of personal information

Private eyes (are watching you)

For some positions, client information is at our fingertips and often just a keystroke or mouse click away. This was the position that a NSW Police Constable was in when he used the NSW Police database system to look up the police record of a woman he was flirting with earlier this year.

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The danger to employers for employees caught behaving badly

Video on demand

The recent Australia Day off-field incident which involved an NRL Sydney Roosters player serves a warning to both employers and employees about the dangers of alcohol and social media.

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Recruitment Company snowed under by social media reaction to misbehaving employees

Cold As Ice

On 10 July 2016, a Mount Buller Reindeer Ski Club employee posted to Facebook a scathing assessment of guests employed by recruitment company, Michael Page Recruitment. The Ski Club employee alleged that the 22 guests caused a nuisance, were heavily intoxicated and became abusive to her and the Ski Club’s Manager.

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Employee who visited non work related websites awarded $25,000 in compensation by FWC

Itsy Bitsy Teeney Weeney Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

A recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) highlights the importance of procedural fairness in disciplinary matters.

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Costly spelling mistakes

Oops I did it again!

It was reported in the news that an accounting firm was unsuccessful in its application to restrain its former partners from poaching and soliciting its clients after a spelling mistake in an email address meant critical correspondence was not received.

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Working from home and confidentiality

Top Secret

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data has revealed an increase in the number of Australians regularly working from home. Regardless of the reason an employee works from home, confidentiality must be managed through an appropriate policy that addresses situations that are likely to arise both in and outside the workplace.

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Conducting investigations

Are you in or out?

One of the first decisions to be made by an employer when confronted with a situation warranting investigation is whether the matter can be adequately investigated internally or whether investigation by an independent third party is warranted.

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Is your investigation process flexible enough?

One size does not fit all

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC)’s decision in East Coast Pipeline Pty Ltd v Workers Compensation Regulator [2016] QIRC 101 (East Coast Case) suggests to employers that internal investigations should be both in accordance with the applicable policy and flexible enough to adapt to the situation rather than simply follow a rigid process that may not fit the circumstances.

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Refusing requests for annual leave

Leavin’ on a jet plane

A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission has highlighted the importance of correctly managing employees’ requests for annual leave (Adriana Stevens v Horsley Park Supermarket Pty Ltd T/A Carlo’s IGA Horsley Park [2017] FWC 4626).

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Workplace surveillance

All Eyes on Me

Technology is often used to make the performance of our daily or work tasks easier – however it has become increasingly sophisticated and can now be used to measure and monitor our every move and task.

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Mining employee validly dismissed for incident management breaches

A diamond (miner) in the rough

It’s been said many times before, but we simply can’t understate the importance of employers enforcing health and safety policies and procedures in the workplace, including incident management procedures. These policies and procedures can save lives and limbs and allow employers to investigate incidents to prevent future occurrences.

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Full Bench rejects appeal from employee who altered medical certificate

Doctor, Doctor...

Employers and human resources professionals may often be provided with medical certificates which they are not quite sure about, prompting them to look at the certificate a bit more closely.

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The changing nature of appearance and dress code policies

No shoes, no shirt and I still get service

Most workplaces have an appearance and dress code policy which commonly requires employees to wear a particular uniform or have a certain standard of appearance. Increasingly, workplaces have dropped or relaxed dress code policies which previously required that professional business attire would be worn at all times in the office.

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FWC says captain who failed employer’s alcohol test was unfairly dismissed

“O Captain! My Captain!” – Not a vindication, but dismissal was harsh

Setting policies and procedures for the effective management of drugs and alcohol in the workplace is important, particularly for safety critical industries.

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FWC lacks jurisdiction to deal with dispute about Delivery Driver of the Year

Claiming a pizza the action

Reward and recognition programs are a great way to incentivise employees to work that little bit harder. Often these programs take the form of friendly, employer-sponsored competitions between employees where the winner takes home a prize.

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It’s going viral: E-medical certificates

Our top tips regarding managing sick leave and medical certificates

The colder weather marks the start of the cold and flu season where a cough or sneeze starting from one person quickly spreads throughout the whole office. The season also creates challenges for employers who may have to manage a dwindling workforce where employees (or their family members) may be struck down with an illness and need to take personal (sick) / carers leave.

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Can an employer be liable for employee misbehaviour on social media?

A recent civil law suit filed in the US highlights the need for employers to clearly define what is and isn’t “work-related conduct”

A recent civil law suit filed in the US is set to examine how an employer might be liable for an employee’s conduct on social media. The suit alleges the employer is liable for the actions and damage caused by a managing director who used his LinkedIn account for official recruiting purposes but eventually began sending unsolicited and inappropriate (e.g. sexual) messages to a prospective employee.

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5 Social Media Behaviours for employers to watch out for

"I'm free to do what I want any old time"

Last week, Fairfax reported that a Norfolk Island public servant had her pay docked after she “committed a breach of discipline” by posting comments on Facebook referring to the island’s administrator as “an a***hole”. This story is a good reminder for both employers and employees about the pitfalls of social media and the blurred line between personal and professional lives.

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Uber eX-employee sparks reform of company culture

The importance of up-to-date policies and regular training

Uber Technologies now appears to be undergoing a major remodel of its workplace environment, including the dismissal of 20 employees and the departure of CEO, Travis Kalanick, following a self-imposed investigation into the culture of the eight-year old company.

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Employees’ access to personal information

Just one look...

Just one look... or in the case for one former job centre employee, thirty five unauthorised “looks” at an ex-lover’s job seeker profile.

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Email and IT policies

Think before you click

The internet and email are essential tools for most businesses. Email makes correspondence and transactions simple and efficient, but it is also easy to send the wrong email to the wrong recipient!

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Truck driver not unfairly dismissed for failing to adhere to mobile phone policy

Employee phone home

Mobile phone use during work hours can cause an unwanted distraction. Other times, the use of mobile phones may be restricted due to safety reasons.

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Site operator shares liability with negligent heavy machinery operator distracted by mobile phone call

Distraction reaction

A site operator has been ordered to share the damages bill with a negligent worker and subcontractor employer after the ACT Supreme Court found that the site operator’s safety rules and practices were deficient.

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FWC Awards Maximum Compensation to Dismissed Employee Who Stole Company Property

The Punishment Did Not Fit The Crime

A Qantas flight attendant (the Applicant) who was sacked for stealing alcohol from a flight and lying about it was awarded $33,731 in compensation by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) after it found that the decision to terminate the Applicant’s employment was harsh.

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