Month in Review | August 2021

In the News

  • Around 2,500 Qantas and Jetstar employees were stood down from mid-August in response to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Qantas has said that the stand down is expected to last 2 months and no job losses are expected.
  • The Business Council of Australia stated that mandatory vaccinations should be led by state Governments through public health orders, and not left to be determined by businesses themselves.
  • Australian Building and Construction Commission defended its decision to spend almost half a million dollars in legal fees defending against union organisers who demanded a women’s toilet on a construction site.
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman updated its advice regarding employers requiring their employees to be vaccinated. FWO stated that there are 4 tiers of work and depending on what work an employee does, it may be reasonable to direct them to obtain a vaccination.
  • In some countries, Google has ‘location-based’ salary packages which reduce in value as workers move to areas that are cheaper to live in. Google ruled out introducing such a policy for its Australian employees.
  • The unemployment rate dropped from 4.9% in June to 4.6% in July. The main reason for this, according to the ABS, was that many people gave up looking for work during COVID-19 lockdowns; thereby, reducing the participation rate.
  • 13Cabs announced that it would mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its workforce of more than 10,000 drivers in Sydney and Melbourne.
  • Menulog submitted its proposed draft industry award to the Fair Work Commission. The Fair Work Commission will first consider whether any existing modern awards apply to delivery drivers before it can consider Menulog’s proposed draft award.
  • Australia Post disclosed that it underpaid 19,500 former workers about $1.8million, after a payroll error miscalculated how much annual leave they should be paid at the end of their employment.

In the Courts 

  • Uber drivers from Sydney and Melbourne are bringing legal proceedings against Uber for alleged record keeping and payslip breaches under the Fair Work Act.
  • The High Court overturned the Federal Court’s contentious ‘Workpac v Rossato’ decision, which had led to a legislative definition of ‘casual employment’. The High Court allowed Workpac’s appeal and determined that Mr Rossato was in fact, a casual employee.
  • The Fair Work Commission released a statement in relation to the High Court’s recent Workpac v Rossato decision. The FWC has concerns that the decision has raised questions in relation to the employee v independent contractor multi-factor test and the potential impact on the upcoming Deliveroo case.
  • The Federal Circuit Court ordered Brisbane Café, 63 Racecourse Rd, to pay penalties of $130,000 for underpaying 33 employees, who worked as cooks, kitchen attendants, and food and beverage attendants.
  • The Industrial Court of Queensland has ordered an employer to pay $130,000 in damages for repeatedly sexually harassing his employee.