An employee had been employed by a consulting agency to provide technical support for a client’s construction project. The employment contract provided that the contract would terminate on the “demobilisation of the project”. The employee was dismissed after her employer was informed by the client that the employee’s consultation services were no longer required.
When the employee commenced an action for unfair dismissal, could the employer rely on the specified task exclusion of the Fair Work Act 2009?
The Federal Circuit Court of Australia recently ordered Crocmedia, a media company, to pay a $24,000 penalty for breaches of the Fair Work Act relating to an unpaid work experience scheme. This case raises important considerations for employers that accept unpaid work experience interns or volunteers.
(From the April 2015 edition of Not-for-Profit Law Notes)
Volunteers are a common, and in many cases, essential ingredient in the activities of charities & other Not-for-Profits. What is the legal position of volunteers in light of the Crocmedia case? Interns who are employees must be distinguished from volunteers who work for a non-vocational purpose with organisations such as churches, sporting clubs, charities or community organisations.
(From the April 2015 edition fo Not-for-Profit Law Notes)
The recent passing of the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 brings about significant changes requiring the attention of not-for-profit organisations, some of which have already taken effect.
The most significant element of the amendment package is the introduction of anti-bullying provisions. From 1 January 2014, workers (including employees and contractors) may apply to the Fair Work Commission where they reasonably believe that they have been bullied at work. The Commission must begin to process the application within 14 days of it being made and can make any order it considers appropriate, except for reinstatement or monetary compensation.
A worker is bullied at work if while working at a constitutionally-covered business (this includes most but not all independent schools) they are the recipient of repeated unreasonable behaviour that creates a risk to health and safety. However, a worker is not bullied under the new legislation if they are the recipient of reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner. If facing an application from a worker, the employer will have to incur the expense of arguing as a defence that it engaged in reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable matter.
Failure by an employer to adhere to an order by the Commission to stop bullying will expose it to fines of up to $51,000.
Until now, workers have sought protection from workplace bullying through anti-discrimination and work health and safety laws. These changes provide an alternative and potentially more flexible remedy.
Flexible working arrangements
The right of an employee to request to change their working arrangements has been expanded under the Fair Work Act. From 1 July 2013, employees having the right to request flexible working arrangements include parents or carers of school age children or younger, those with a disability, those aged over 55, those experiencing violence from a family member and a carer of an immediate family member who is experiencing violence from a family member.
An employer may only refuse a request on “reasonable business grounds” which the Act now specifies as including when the requested working arrangements would be too costly for the employer, there would be a significant loss to productivity and the new arrangements would be of significant detriment to customer service. The Act also brings changes to parental and special maternity leave.
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