Month in Review | July 2021

In the News

  • The Federal Government is proposing changes to the Migration Act to protect migrant workers from being exploited in the workplace. The changes would include, among other things, a provision whereby employers who have breached certain sections of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) would not be permitted to employ non-citizen employees for a period of time.
  • The ACTU said that hundreds of people have raised concerns with them about the challenges of obtaining the COVID-19 disaster payment, causing high levels of stress for many individuals who are trying to access the support.
  • Qantas stated that it may have to stand down staff without pay due to some states extending their lockdown periods.
  • According to the ABS Labour Force Survey, Australia’s unemployment rate has decreased to 4.9%, which takes it to its lowest level in a decade. However, the underemployment rate has increased to 7.9%.
  • The Fair Work Commission considered whether fruit and vegetable pickers should continue to be paid piece worker rates, being pay calculated based on how much fruit or vegetables are picked, or whether a minimum wage would be more appropriate. The Fair Work Commission’s decision will be released in the upcoming months.
  • The Prime Minister announced an increase to the emergency disaster payment due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.
  • Australia’s current workplace laws leave ambiguity as to who has obligations under work health and safety laws when a support worker is injured.
  • Amazon is reportedly using algorithms to track the work of its couriers and drivers, measuring whether drivers picked up packages on time, made deliveries within the expected delivery window, and followed customers’ instructions.
  • Victorian wage theft laws came into effect, making it a crime for any employer to dishonestly and deliberately withhold pay from its employees.

In the Courts

  • The Federal Court found that Qantas contravened the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) by taking adverse action against its ground crew by outsourcing about 2,000 jobs.
  • An employer was ordered to pay over $25,000 in compensation and penalties for unlawful adverse action after it dismissed an employee for refusing to perform unsafe work.
  • An employee who was made redundant and lodged their unfair dismissal application 5 days late was granted an extension of time, as the employer had unreasonably ‘strung out’ their communication.
  • The Fair Work Commission released a statement regarding Menulog’s application for a new modern award to be created for the gig economy industry.
  • The Fair Work Commission made a submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021, requesting that it delay the parts of the bill in order to give it more time to prepare for what they suspect will be an influx of applications.
  • Deputy President Cross of the Fair Work Commission held that Sydney Trains unfairly dismissed a train driver who had been issued a DUI outside of work hours.
  • The Federal Circuit Court held that an employer breached general protections provisions by dismissing an employee for proposing to exercise her right to take annual and personal leave to recover from breast cancer surgery.