In our final regular newsletter of the year, we bring you a workplace trend, news snippets and sage advice in the “Dear Jen” column.
It’s BONUS time! As an early Christmas present for you, we’ve included a checklist of employment compliance essentials to help you assess whether your workplace is ready for 2024.
And of course, I share my recommendations for your viewing pleasure.
Here’s hoping this newsletter brings you some wisdom and joy, and from all of us at BLC, we hope you enjoy a smooth end to the year and a chance to take a break.
What trend am I seeing out there in the workplace world?
The “Grass Is Greener Somewhere Else” Trend.
And Employment Hero agrees with me. They’ve released data about Gen Z’s Job-Hopping Trend – where employees leave their roles after only 6 months. According to Liquid Infusion’s Managing Director, Ben Neumann, Gen Z have a “grass is always greener” mentality, and young employees are leaving their jobs in droves.
Take Out Point: Methinks this trend will only last as long as attractive jobs are plentiful. Once the grass becomes less green, Gen Z will become less mobile.
Word of the Year: “cossie livs”
An online conversation between a seller and buyer inadvertently coined the perfect term that captures the pain of 2023’s cost of living woes. The buyer responded to an offer “I can’t go that low sorry babe xx Especially with the cozzie livs and all that jazz“. A screenshot of the conversation went viral after the buyer explained the term meant “Slang for cost of living crisis” and online users ran with it. Indeed, the Macquarie Dictionary have made it their word of the year. Go-ey figs.
Jobs Of The Week
Jobs: Various Hospitality
Location: Adorable Country Pub in Remote Tasmania. Population: 22
Skills required: The Weldborough Hotel’s ad that went viral said:
“We are looking for high achievers who have proven experience in a high-pressure environment, ideally with references from Gordon Ramsay or Heston Bloomenthal [sic]. Actually, who are we kidding? We are desperate for staff.
“Police record? Who cares. Drug habit? Join the club. Alcoholic? Don’t get me started. If I can’t find anyone before Xmas, I won’t have a business after Xmas.”
No Need to Apply: The ad was shared around 1,500 times with more than 250 comments in 2 days. The pub made 5 job offers and now has a staff of 10.
Fun Fact: The pub’s owner responded to criticism stating:
“To the people that told me the post was unprofessional and a bad look, I will take that feedback and raise you the 5 new staff. Better yet: come to the pub and experience the service and the food and then call us unprofessional.”
“I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” – Hall and Oates in Legal Battle
Daryl Hall is suing John Oates in a Nashville Court over his decision to sell his share of their joint venture. No word yet on whether any “Private Eyes” are involved, but it looks like the once happy duo will soon be “Out of Touch”.
Take Out Point: It’s heartbreaking when a workplace dispute involves big-haired heroes from one’s childhood.
See: Hall & Oates Lawsuit
Work From Home vs Promotion & Bonus – Your Call
A poll from the Australian Financial Review found that 75% of respondents believe that companies should take into account how much time employees spend in the office in their performance reviews. And more than half of respondents agree that annual bonuses should be conditional on working a certain number of hours in the office.
Consistent with this, Amazon Australia has told staff that they cannot get a promotion if they are spending less than three days a week in the office and ANZ staff have been told that their annual bonuses may be cut if they spend more than 50% of their work week from home.
Take out Point: Like working from home? Promotions and bonuses may be off the table. Will this affect women more than men?
Is Your Workplace Ready for 2024?
We all like to start the new year on the right foot. Right?
So in January whilst many of you are lying on a beach, we will be busy reviewing employment contracts, updating policies and procedures and preparing new management tools for compliance with the IR and sexual harassment laws.
To help businesses assess their readiness for the new year, we have put together a checklist of employment compliance essentials. You’re welcome!
CASES YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
Employee Sacked for Calling his Bosses “C#nts”
A bartender engaged in an angry conversation with his boss after his shifts were reduced. The owner of the bar told him “I hope though you find something else to feed you one day. Or not. You do you. Okay, bye”. Thinking he had just been sacked, the employee announced his departure on the staff Facebook chat group and signed off by referring to his employers as “c#nts”.
The Fair Work Commission found that “You do you, Okay bye” did not constitute a dismissal but the employee’s “wilful and deliberate” act in calling his bosses a “disrespectful slur” warranted immediate dismissal notwithstanding that the employer’s human resources process were “devoid of sophistication”.
Take Out Point: Procedural deficiencies in dismissing staff may in some cases be outweighed by the seriousness of the misconduct.
Sexual Harassment Results In Enormous Damages Finding Against Employer
An employee of a jewellery shop claimed that her manager slapped her on the bottom, told her she had a ‘beautiful body’ and ‘bedroom eyes’ and gave her unsolicited gifts including designer items, jewellery and a massage. The Federal Court found that the manager had sexually harassed the employee and further victimised her when she made a complaint against him. She was awarded $140,000 in general damages for the sexual harassment and $40,000 for victimisation in recognition of the significant impact the harassment had on her mental health.
Take Out Point: This decision indicates the Court’s willingness to award high damages for breaches of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).
Record $2.1 Million Fine For Young Worker’s Serious Head Injury
A 20-year-old apprentice was struck on the head with a steel pipe whilst working at an industrial manufacturing workshop. Sadly, the young worker suffered a traumatic brain injury and was placed in an induced coma. A WorkSafe investigation found that the employer should have been aware of the risks of injury and didn’t take measures that would have been reasonably practicable to put in place to address them. The Melbourne County Court convicted and fined the company a record $2.1 million. The company’s director received a $140,000 fine and was ordered to do 600 hours of community service.
Take Out Point: There are significant penalties for not complying with work safety laws.
FWC Blames Company Leadership For Bullying Amongst Workers
A worker at a former Toll subsidiary was found to have bullied his colleague by grabbing his bottom, speaking aggressively, swearing at him and tapping his face and calling him a “di**head”. The perpetrator resigned before the Fair Work Commission could make anti-bullying orders. This did not stop the Commission calling out the lack of support provided to the bullied employee and the “failure of the local leadership in the organisation, (by) those who knew what was happening, to do something about it.”
The FWC also commented on the ironic Facebook Message sent by the perpetrator to the bullying victim which stated “Hey scumbag I beet u (sic) u didn’t get me the sack I’m retired go and learn and learn (sic) to speak English or f*** off.”
Take Out Point: The FWC dismissed the anti-bullying application because the employer had taken the necessary steps to remove the risk of bullying and deemed the workplace safe for the employee to return.
Do you know how to manage disputes between colleagues?
The ‘Awkward to Awesome’ Workshop will empower your managers and team with essential skills and techniques to tackle challenging conversations with confidence.
Don’t let unresolved workplace issues hold your business back. Empower your team with the skills to have difficult conversations. Increase productivity. Decrease recruitment costs. Boost profits! Check out the ‘Awkward to Awesome’ Workshop.
Or grab the most practical online course in town. Run, don’t walk to my website for my highly informative and entertaining online course – “Difficult Conversations In The Workplace: A Lawyer’s Guide to Not Needing a Lawyer”. Spend an hour with your favourite unlawyerly lawyer for just $149 plus GST, or organise a coaching session.
We hold a “secret Santa” at work.
I have to buy something for my boss for $20.
Should I play it safe or buy her something funny?
Dear desperate to be funny Elf,
I have one word for you.
What I Watched (On Stan)
Not normally a fan of shows where the opening scene involves a hot priest killing 5 parishioners…but I inhaled all 4 episodes of “Scrublands” in one night. Great Australian production.
What I Watched (On Binge/Foxtel)
“Icahn: The Restless Billionaire” is about “the lone wolf of Wall Street” – Carl Icahn. If you like rags to riches biographies this one might be for you.
What I Watched (On Britbox)
The second season of the boringingly named (but truly excellent series starring Dougray Scott) “Crime” has dropped. Hooray!
What I Watched (On Apple TV+)
The third season of the confusingly named (but truly excellent series starring Gary Oldman) “Slow Horses” has dropped.
What I Couldn’t Watch (On Paramount)
I usually love a tv show that doubles as a tourism commercial, but I only survived 10 minutes of “NCIS Sydney”. Appalling script. I tried, but I couldn’t.