Family Friendly Employment

jmhSome of the changes to the Fair Work Act which came into effect on 1 July 2013 include ‘family friendly’ amendments, such as unpaid parental leave, special maternity leave, and the right to request flexible work.

Parental leave

The following changes have been made to the Fair Work Act:

  • The existing right to request flexible working arrangements has been extended to include employees who are parents of school age children, are carers, have a disability or are over 55 years old. There are also extended provisions in connection with violence from family members.
  • The inclusion of a non-exhaustive list of what constitutes ‘reasonable business grounds’ for refusing requests for part-time work on return from parental leave or a request for flexible working arrangements.
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Acquiring Employees on Transfer of Business

jmhWhen a new owner takes over a business, at what point is he considered to have ’employed’ the existing staff?

In a recent case before the Fair Work Commission, a café in Melbourne was taken over by a new owner, SK, on 10 September 2012. No information was given about future employment conditions but the manager encouraged staff to be patient and understanding with the new owners. There was no new paperwork in respect to employment, no change to shifts, no change to wages, and no request for taxation declarations.

Annual leave entitlements were paid out at the time of the transfer of business.… Read More

Changes to Superannuation

jmhMost people will probably be aware of the changes to superannuation guarantee contributions but what do these changes mean for employers?

All employers need to be aware that the changes to the superannuation regime will increase employers’ superannuation obligations. Starting from 1 July 2013 the compulsory contributions rate will increase from 9% to 9.25%.

Superannuation regime

The changes introduced by way of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Amendment Act 2012 means that compulsory superannuation guarantee contributions will increase over a seven year period, from the current rate of 9% to 12%.

The increases will be gradual, as follows:

Income year                           Charge percentage

Starting 1 July 2013-2014          9.25%

Starting 1 July 2014-2015          9.5%

Starting 1 July 2015-2016          10%

Starting 1 July 2016-2017          10.5%

Starting 1 July 2017-2018          11%

Starting 1 July 2018-2019          11.5%

Starting 1 July 2019-2020          12%

Removal of the Upper Age Limit

The Act also has an impact for employers when it comes to paying superannuation guarantee contributions to employees over the age of 70.… Read More

Public holidays and Employment

jmhUnder the National Employment Standards (NES), employees have an entitlement to a paid day off on a public holiday unless it is reasonable to ask an employee to work. Many businesses remain open over public holidays and need employees to work. This can lead to confusion and disputes over whether or not it is reasonable to ask an employee to work on a public holiday.

Requests to work on a public holiday

The factors set out in the NES to determine the reasonableness of a request to work (or the reasonableness of a refusal to work) on a public holiday are:

  • the nature and operational requirements of the workplace
  • the type of work required to be performed
  • the employee’s personal circumstances (eg family responsibilities)
  • any reasonable expectation that public holiday work is required
  • entitlements to be compensated for working on the public holiday
  • the type of employment of the employee (ie full-time, part-time or casual)
  • the amount of advance notice provided to the employee to work on the public holiday, and
  • the amount of advance notice given by the employee if refusing to work on a public holiday.
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When a Good Reason Just Isn’t Enough

jmhThe Christmas/New Year period provides employees with an opportunity to celebrate the year that has passed. Employees can ‘forget’ the appropriate conduct required of them, particularly when alcohol is involved and when functions are held offsite and outside normal working hours. As a result, employers may now been dealing with the ramifications of any incidents which occurred during this period.

Recent Decision

An employee was involved in a physical assault (head-butting another employee) at a Christmas function. An investigation into the incident was not finalised until April in the following year, but by this time another allegation of assault had been made against the same employee.… Read More

BYO Device

jmhIt is becoming more common for employers to be asked by employees to connect their personal devices such as smart phones, laptops and tablets to the employers’ IT systems. The convenience, flexibility and potential productivity gains make allowing an employee to ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) appealing.

However the use of BYOD, including in non-work hours, can present a number of risks for employers, if the arrangements are left unmanaged.

Factors to consider with BYOD arrangements

Employers need to consider whether it is appropriate to allow employees to access work systems from a personal device which may not have the security, and controls that company devices have.… Read More

What Type of Employment Contract Should I Use?

jmhThere are many different ways for an employer to engage an employee, so it is vitally important that the employment contract correctly reflects the actual employment relationship.

 

Various employer/employee relationships

Employees are generally engaged on a:

  • full-time
  • part-time, or
  • casual basis.

The terms and conditions of employment may change if the employee is:

  • employed for a fixed-term
  • covered by an award or enterprise agreement, or
  • an executive employee.

Courts have found in many cases that employees are in fact a different type of employee to that stated in their employment contract. For example, workers who the employer considered to be casuals have been found actually to be permanent employees, with the result that they had access to employee entitlements such as the unfair dismissal jurisdiction or parental leave.… Read More

Can Staff Training Protect Your Business?

jmhMost employers implement policies and procedures to minimise liability which may arise from their employees’ actions. It is also important for employers to make their employees aware of the policies, train and implement them into the workplace, and penalise employees who breach those policies and procedures.

A recent case before the Administration Decisions Tribunal (ADT) shows how these actions can make all the difference.

In this case the Applicant, ‘C’, received a piece of paper at a training session from ‘L’ which contained sexually explicit material. C felt so violated it led her to the police station. C returned to work and made a complaint against L alleging sexual harassment.… Read More

Valid Reasons for Termination of Employment

jmhThere are a number of valid reasons to terminate employment. These include:

 

Capacity

Capacity relates to the employee’s ability to perform the inherent requirements of the job. To rely upon capacity as a reason for termination, the core duties of a position should be compared against the employee’s ability to perform those duties. Evidence should exist to attest to the lack of capacity, and reasonable alternatives considered to termination.

Conduct

Reasons related to conduct can range from serious contraventions of workplace health and safety obligations to serious misconduct. There must be evidence that the conduct occurred. You should then assess whether termination is fair or whether a lesser form of disciplinary action is more appropriate.… Read More

Do you know about the Paid Parental Leave scheme?

jmhThe Government-funded Paid Parental Leave scheme (PPL scheme) commenced on 1 January 2011. From 1 July 2011, employers have been required to facilitate the payment of paid parental leave (PPL) through their payroll.

Who is eligible?

Employers are not responsible for determining whether a person is eligible; the assessment is completed by the Family Assistance Office (FAO)

In order to be eligible the employee must meet certain criteria, including a carer test and work related tests.

How does it work?

The scheme provides eligible working mothers and initial primary carers of children born or adopted on or after 1 January 2011 with PPL for the duration they are not working, to a maximum of 18 weeks at the national minimum wage.… Read More