Hot Topics

Uber has been deemed by the Fair Work Commission to not be an employer

The Commission found that “it can in no way be concluded that an employment relationship existed” and upheld the international corporation’s decision to terminate the driver’s service agreement. This is an interesting decision regarding employment in the “gig economy”.

Decision by the Federal Circuit Court may increase fines for employer ordered by the Fair Work Commission

A recent finding may increase by nine time the fines to employers in the Commission.

The Federal Court has found in favour of a union delegate, finding union leaders were “bias” against her

The court found that the delegate had “good cause” for not attending meetings as she had experienced serious threats and bias from union leaders.

Changes to the Fair Work Act have increase protections for vulnerable workers

These changes, designed to protect vulnerable workers, increase employer obligations and the penalties that can be applied to employers where contravention occurs.

Royal Commission to have power to look into banks’ pay and hiring practices

The recently announced Royal Commission will have the power to review employment practices within the major banks according to its terms of reference. This will include recruitment and pay practices.

Contractors v Employees - Putland v Royans Wagga Pty Limited [2017] FCA 910

The recent decision of Putland v Royans Wagga Pty Limited demonstrates a crackdown by the courts on “sham contracting”. In this case two workers were independent contractors, however the Federal Court found that they had an employment relationship with Royans and so were employees. This meant the workers had a right be compensated for missed superannuation, overtime, underpayments and leave.

High Court refuses to overturn underpayments ruling – Fair Work Ombudsman v Priority Matters Pty Ltd [2017] FCA 833

The High Court has refused to grant leave to a number of companies to hear appeals of underpayment rulings after a Federal Court decision requiring underpayments be rectified. The decision makes clear that ignorance to underpayment is not a defence to underpayment as employers are “knowingly concerned” with paying employees.

Contractual restraint of trade clauses - Crowe Horwath (Aust) Pty Ltd v Loone [2017] VSC 163

Restraint of trade clauses are unenforceable on employees if the employer repudiates on the contract. A post-employment restraint of trade clause is ineffective if the contract (employment) ended due to the employer’s breach, found the Victorian Court of Appeal.

High bar for workplace bullying

In a recent decision the Fair Work Commission reiterated its stance that workplace bullying cannot be an isolated event but “must be repeated, unreasonable behaviour that creates a risk to health and safety”. The Deputy President said that while in this case the incident could have been handled better, it was an isolated incident and demonstrated the “imperfection” of management.