Month in Review | September 2021

In the News

  • The ABC disclosed that it has uncovered staff underpayments, by reason of incorrectly classifying employee skill levels and in some instances, failing to apply the correct loadings and allowances.
  • WorkSafe Victoria has charged the Victorian Department of Health with 58 breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to Victoria’s initial hotel quarantine program.
  • By 27 September 2021, employers (other than small businesses) need to assess whether their existing casuals are eligible to be offered permanent employment. Employers also have to give their existing casual employees a copy of the Casual Employment Information Statement as soon as possible.
  • The Sydney Morning Herald provided a useful op-ed on the growing trend of employers providing incentives for their employees to get vaccinated.
  • Over 60 current and former employees of Eudunda Farmers Limited, have made a claim in the Federal Court, seeking more than $1,000,000 in unpaid wages. South Australia’s Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association claims that 47 employees were misclassified as ‘level 1’ employees under the Retail Award.
  • A Senate inquiry into Australia’s temporary migration system has recommended that the Fair Work Ombudsman be restructured to become an enforcement-focused ‘inspectorate’.
  • United States’ Delta Air Lines will impose a $AUD275 monthly surcharge on employees who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, after deciding against a mandatory vaccination policy. The fee will be applied to employees covered by Delta Air’s health-care plan.
  • The Government’s Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 has passed both houses, granting the Fair Work Ombudsman new authority to make anti-sexual-harassment orders, similar to its existing powers relating to anti-bullying orders.
  • Deakin University is to lay off more staff amid fears of a second wave of education job cuts. Universities were projected to make staff cuts due to the reduced numbers in international students and university funding cuts announced in the FY2022 budget.

In the Courts

  • The Federal Court of Australia has fined a labour hire company and a civil construction company almost $30,000 for discriminating against a 70 year old worker for his age.
  • The Fair Work Commission has dismissed the unfair dismissal claim of an employee who claims she was being bullied, and then terminated for raising it as an issue with her employer.
  • An employee was dismissed for refusing to supply a urine sample for a random drug and alcohol test. The Fair Work Commission dismissed her unfair dismissal application and held that the employer’s direction to participate in the testing was lawful and reasonable.
  • The Federal Court has refused to grant Qantas a stay of proceedings, which could lead to the reinstatement of some of its 2,000 former ground crew.
  • A worker has successfully brought an unfair dismissal claim against her former employer. The Fair Work Commission held that the employer did not have a valid reason for dismissing the worker if the employer was in contravention of s352 of the Fair Work Act.
  • The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission has ordered that a former boarding kennel employee be awarded $9,432.89 in compensation after she was unfairly dismissed. $3,000 of which was awarded for the distress that she had suffered as a result of the employer’s treatment of her.
  • The Fair Work Commission has released its decision to insert loaded rates into the Hospitality Industry (General) Award. The loaded rates scheme will only be able to be applied by employers to full-time employees classified at level 3 or above.
  • Two Qantas pilots, who were dismissed after turning 65 because they could no longer fly internationally, have had their dismissal upheld by the Fair Work Commission. Qantas relied on the landmark judgement in Qantas Airways Ltd v Christie.
  • An employee made an unfair dismissal application, after he was dismissed for making unwanted comments of a sexual nature to a customer. The Fair Work Commission held that the dismissal was unfair as the process followed was ‘nothing less than procedurally disastrous’.