Month in Review | January 2022

In the News

  • The NSW government has granted an exemption for critical workers in the food, logistics and manufacturing sector from isolating if they are close contacts and have no symptoms. Unions have called this move ‘reckless’, saying it will increase infections and further impact supply.
  • COVID-19 and self-isolation rules have resulted in a shortage of hospitality workers, with hospitality businesses having to decide whether to remain open, reduce opening hours or recruit new employees. These worker shortages have also seen businesses poaching staff with the offer of higher wages and bonuses in order to stay open.
  • The NSW Government has announced a $1bn support package for businesses hit by Omicron. The support package is for businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million who have experienced a 40% decrease in their January turnover.

In the Courts

  • On 24 December 2021, the Fair Work Commission (the FWC) released its first decision in the new anti-sexual harassment jurisdiction, dismissing an application to stop bullying and sexual harassment on the basis that it had no reasonable prospects of success, because the individuals no longer worked in the same warehouse and worked for different employers.
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated 17 commercial cleaning companies in Adelaide and recovered $18,952 in underpayments. The breaches ranged from failing to pay penalty rates, not paying minimum hourly rates and failing to make and keep employee records.
  • The FWC has refused an application for an anti-bullying order after the employee was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) by his female supervisor, finding that the employee’s ‘violent objections’ to the PIP was at times ‘blatantly misogynistic’.
  • The Federal Court has dismissed an urgent interlocutory bid of Qantas employees to stop Qantas dismissing them after they did not comply with Qantas’ mid-November vaccination deadline.
  • The CFMMEU, ETU and AMWU have failed to persuade the FWC that BHP’s requirement that employees hand over copies of their vaccination certificates or immunisation statements breaches the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).