Littler Global Guide - Australia - Q4 2017

Browse through brief employment and labor law updates from around the globe. Contact a Littler attorney for more information or view our global locations.

View all Q4 2017 Global Guide Quarterly updates

South Australia Passes New Labour Hire Licensing Laws

New Legislation Enacted

Author: Naomi Seddon, Shareholder — Littler Mendelson P.C.

On November 28, 2017, South Australia passed the “Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017,” to regulate labor hire and prevent the exploitation of workers. Under the new laws, it will be unlawful to operate as a labor hire provider without a license or engage an unlicensed operator. The Government’s new legislation will ensure minimum standards of employment for workers and come after a 2015 “Four Corners” program, which exposed the exploitation of migrant workers on farms and the food industry, including some businesses based in South Australia. South Australia joins Queensland as the second state to introduce such laws, and it is expected that Victoria will pass similar laws.

Win for Restaurant Workers as FWC Confirms Retention of Sunday Penalty Rates

New Order or Decree

Author: Naomi Seddon, Shareholder — Littler Mendelson P.C.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has confirmed the retention of existing Sunday penalty rates for restaurant workers, with the full bench noting that industry employers had failed to submit persuasive evidence to support claims that cuts would boost jobs. Employer groups have indicated that, despite the full-bench determination, they will continue to pursue their claims for penalty rate cuts at a later time. With the FWC having to conduct four yearly modern award reviews, the issue of penalty rates is likely to arise again at the next review in 2022.

FWC Decision Is Reminder that Relocation Requests Must Be “Reasonable”

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Naomi Seddon, Shareholder — Littler Mendelson P.C.

A sales representative was dismissed within a day of receiving an ultimatum to “pack up his life” and relocate to an office some 772 kilometers from where he had lived and worked for six months. In finding the ultimatum was unreasonable and the dismissal invalid, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) noted that a “more prudent” course would have been to give the employee a reasonable timetable to decide and offer to cover suitable relocation expenses. The FWC was also extremely critical of the company for its lack of written documentation around the work-from-home arrangement. Employers should keep in mind that due process must be followed in all relocation and redundancy matters, and that the FWC places high importance on written documentation in unfair dismissal cases.

"Mere Imperfection" in Management Actions Does Not Equal Bullying

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Naomi Seddon, Shareholder — Littler Mendelson P.C.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has clarified that “mere imperfection” in management actions does not amount to bullying. The FWC found that while the company’s communications with the officer “could have been better,” “mere imperfection in undertaking management action does not make it unreasonable under the Fair Work Act.” Although the FWC acknowledged that the employee’s complaint was “not without merit,” it reiterated that to make a finding that bullying had occurred, “it must be repeated, unreasonable behavior that creates a risk to health and safety.”

New “Jobs Cop” Proposed for Victoria

Proposed Bill or Initiative

Author: Naomi Seddon, Shareholder — Littler Mendelson P.C.

The Victorian Government has announced that it will introduce legislation next year to mandate local content and the employment of apprentices, which will be overseen by a regulator that has been dubbed the “Jobs Cop.” Premier Daniel Andrews said that the Victorian Local Jobs First Bill will mandate the use of local content and local apprentices, and that the Victorian Local Jobs First Commissioner – or Jobs Cop – will be created to monitor and enforce the laws and oversee compliance of local workforce and content targets. A new regulatory regime will be developed to target non-compliance and will aim to work closely with industry and government agencies to open up opportunities for small and medium firms to work on government projects.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.