“Is the Christmas Party a Workplace?”

TRWith the temperatures rising, and Christmas just around the corner, the annual office Christmas parties are now in full swing.

For both employers and employees this presents a welcome relief from their yearly work commitments and a time in which an employer can show appreciation for the year’s hard work to their employees.

What should be remembered, however, is, put simply, the Christmas party is a ‘workplace’, regardless of when and where it is held.

Employers can be liable for the actions of their employees at work-related events, such as seminars, conferences, work functions and Christmas parties.

In the spirit of the season, Everingham Solomons now presents a ‘do’s and don’ts’ for both employees and employers for office Christmas parties.… Read More

Workers Entitled to Accrue Annual Leave

MKG-newAs a result of a decision by the Federal Court of NSW on 11 November 2014, workers in NSW are entitled to accrue annual leave whilst they are receiving weekly payments of compensation.

The case, NSW Nursing & Midwives Associations v Anglican Care [2014] FCCA 2580, involved a lady by the name of Ms Copas, who was receiving weekly payments of compensation as a result of a workplace injury for a number of years.

The question the Court had to answer was whether Ms Copas was entitled to accrue annual leave whilst she was not working and receiving weekly payments of compensation. … Read More

What is in your “too hard” or “rainy day” basket?

KXBbwWe often have a business client or an individual come to see us with one or more mystery notices from the Australian Taxation Office, their bank or their creditors.  The notices contain lots of small print, intimidating language and tight deadlines for action.  Too often, days or even weeks have passed before we see the notices because they have been sent to the client’s accountant initially, which ís commonly the registered office for the company behind the business, or the client’s tax agent.  Or, quite frequently as well, the notices have arrived and been put straight in the client’s “too hard” or “rainy day” basket.… Read More

Why Workplace Matters?

KXBbwIn our practice, we find that our business clients are increasingly focused on workplace matters – how they can effectively recruit, retain, train, manage and support their employees, while also keeping their employees healthy, safe, happy and productive.  There can be many twists and turns, successes and mistakes in an employer’s journey with its workforce.  There can also be some very difficult times – when an employee is injured or dies, suffers from a mental health issue, redundancies and dismissals, legal action around unfair dismissal and so on.

It is for all these “Workplace Matters” that we say “Workplace Matters”! Or at least it should for our region’s many employers.… Read More

Superannuation Insurance Policies

MKG-newAttached to a lot of superannuation funds are insurance policies that will entitle the policyholder to a payment should they become unable to work.

Generally speaking there are either income protection policies or total & permanent disability policies.  An income protection policy entitles a person to an income whilst they are unable to work because of illness or injury.  There is usually a preclusion period and the payment will go for a finite period.

Also attached are total & permanent disability policies which provide for a lump sum to the ill policyholder.  Whether or not you are totally and permanently disabled will depend firstly on the illness and secondly on the definition of ‘total & permanent disability’. … Read More

What constitutes a workplace?

TRA recent decision in the Federal Court has broadened the definition of “workplace” under the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).

The case of Ewin v. Vergara involved co-workers in a Melbourne accounting firm. Ms Ewin and Mr Vergara initially struck up a friendship, working on joint matters and going jogging together at lunchtime.

The relationship deteriorated however when Mr Vergara attempted to take the friendship to the next level. Ms Ewin was married and rejected Mr Vergara’s attempts to establish a relationship.

The Sexual Discrimination Act prohibits sexual harassment in a workplace, which is defined as “a place at which a workplace participant works or otherwise carries out functions in connection with being a workplace participant”.… Read More

Are Post Employment Restraints Enforceable?

TRIt is not uncommon for an employer to place a restraint upon a departing employee which typically prevents the departing employee from being involved in a similar enterprise, contacting the past employer’s customers, utilising the employer’s confidential information and not poaching the employer’s employees.

In brief the law is that an employer must have a “legitimate interest” to protect and the reach of the post employment restraint must go no further than is reasonably necessary to protect that interest.

The Courts start from the premise that restraints are void, due to public policy. That is because a person should have the right to practice in his/her chosen occupation trade or profession.… Read More

Gifts should have ribbons, not strings …

KXBbwKeiran Breckenridge, our Special Counsel, reports on a recent case industrial/employment law case.

Two unrelated companies gave certain employees $300 gift cards for working through a union strike.  But their gifts came back to bite.

The union took the companies to the Federal Court and argued that the failure to give gift cards to the striking employees amounted to the companies injuring the employees who went on strike and/or discriminating between employees based on who went on strike or not, all for simply exercising their workplace rights.  The union claimed that the companies breached s.340 of the Fair Work Act 2009, which prohibits the taking of ‘adverse action’ against an employee because he or she has exercised a workplace right.… Read More

Becoming a Section 457 Sponsor

MKG-newIf your business that wants to sponsor somebody from overseas there are a number of requirements, most of which are relatively straight forward, but the one that many businesses are not able to comply with straight away is that of “training benchmarks”.

Training benchmarks are evidence that an employer, has spent or will spend a certain amount on training.  The purpose is to ensure that employers are investing in Australian employees before they are able to sponsor overseas workers.

There are two ways that an employer can meet the training benchmarks.

The first way is to provide evidence that in the twelve months prior to lodging the application that at least 1% of payroll has been spent on training of employees of the business. … Read More

Changes to 457 Visa from 1 July 2013

MKG-newThe Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visa) Bill 2013 was passed in July 2013.  Although there are some positives for employers that are sponsoring overseas workers, generally they do not assist.

The Sub-Class 457 Visa allows skilled workers to come to Australia and for businesses to hire overseas workers on a full time basis for up to four years.  The purpose of the Visa is to fill a skill shortage.

The most draconian change is that employers must now prove that they attempted to hire Australian citizens and permanent residents before hiring overseas workers.  An employer must provide evidence of any retrenchments or redundancies in the four months prior, any testing undertaken and evidence of attempts to recruit local workers.… Read More