In this newsletter, I discuss a trend I’ve noticed in the workplace world.
I look at the major changes under the new Industrial Relation laws and a case involving a boozy lunch that ended with a summary dismissal.
As an early Christmas present for you, I’ve included a checklist of employment compliance essentials to help you assess whether your workplace is ready for 2023.
This week’s “Dear Jen” makes for interesting reading.
And of course, I share my recommendations for your viewing pleasure.
I hope this newsletter brings you some wisdom and joy!
What trend am I seeing out there in the workplace world?
New sexual harassment laws came into effect last month which, amongst other things, place a positive duty on employers to take “reasonable and proportionate” measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation.
Employers are wanting to know what practical steps they need to take to meet their obligations.
What training is needed? What changes need to be made to Policies?
Whilst there is a 12 month transition period until the duty becomes enforceable, National Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has urged all workplaces to implement change now.
We will be offering training and resources to clients in the new year. Watch this space.
In the meantime, see: Respect@Work
Buzzword of the Week: “Career cushioning” is preparing for anticipated job loss by upskilling or looking for a new job whilst still employed.
No harm in upskilling, but I prefer to abide by the wisdom of my hero Seth Godin: “Anxiety is practising failure in advance. Anxiety is needless and imaginary. It’s fear about fear, fear that means nothing”.
Westpac Delivers Fertility Treatment Leave
Westpac Bank is the first major bank to offer paid leave for employees undergoing fertility treatment. Following a small number of employers who already provide this allowance, Westpac will give 1 weeks’ leave for employees to attend medical appointments.
Takeaway: More employers are using innovative ways to help employees balance their family and work life – and be seen as employers of choice.
Is Your Workplace Ready for 2023?
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 new 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!
Dismissed For Ignoring “Don’t Drink” Direction
An employee was directed by his CEO that alcohol was not to be consumed at a lunch during work hours. This was company policy and a number of the attendees had to drive company vehicles afterwards. The employee did not convey the CEO’s direction. Alcohol was consumed. Company vehicles were driven.
The FWC upheld the summary dismissal because the employee had failed to follow the CEO’s lawful and reasonable direction and breached of the company’s Drug and Alcohol Policy.
Takeaway: Employees who fail to follow reasonable directions and breach workplace policies will struggle to demonstrate that their dismissal is harsh, unjust or unreasonable.
Bedrooms at Twitter Headquarters
Following Elon Musk’s directive that those Twitter employees who still have jobs go “hardcore”, it has been reported that there are makeshift “bedrooms” (mattresses on conference room floors) at HQ. No word yet on whether the San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspectors have determined if the premises comply with the building code requirements. #SleepWhereYouWork
New Industrial Relations Laws That Will Affect You!
The Secure Jobs and Better Pay Act (Cth) 2022 received Royal Assent on 6 December 2022.
The Act amends workplace laws relating to:
- job security and gender equality
- workplace conditions and protections
- compliance and enforcement and
- workplace relations institutions.
Learn more about these changes by going to New Industrial Relations Laws – The Secure Jobs And Better Pay Act.
Changes of particular interest to you may be…
From 7 December 2022
- Pay Secrecy Clauses – Secrecy clauses in employment contracts that prevent employees talking about their pay and conditions will be prohibited. Employees will have a positive right to disclose or not disclose their pay to others. Applies to contracts entered into or amended after 7 December 2022. Pay secrecy terms already in contracts continue to operate until contract varied.
- Pay Equity – The FWC will be required to take gender equality into account when performing its functions including varying wages.
- Workplace Discrimination – Gender identity, intersex status and breastfeeding will be included in the list of protected attributes under the Fair Work Act. Employees who experience discrimination because of gender identity, intersex status or breastfeeding will now be able to pursue complaints through the FWC.
- Job Advertisements – Prohibition on job advertisements that would breach the Fair Work Act. Applies to jobs advertised after 7 January 2023.
From 6 March 2023
- Sexual Harassment – The Fair Work Act will include a prohibition on sexual harassment and employees will have the choice to pursue their dispute through the FWC, the Australian Human Rights Commission or applicable state and territory anti-discrimination processes.
From 6 June 2023
- Flexible Working Arrangements – Expanded circumstances for employees to request FWA’s (including pregnant employees and those facing domestic violence). Employers can still refuse a request on “reasonable business grounds” but will be obliged to discuss the request and respond in writing in refusing. A dispute can be referred to the FWC.
- Unpaid Parental Leave – Parents will have greater rights to request an extension to unpaid parental leave. Employers will be obliged to discuss the request and any refusal will require reasons to be provided in writing. Employer must also consider whether an alternative period of extension can be agreed.
From 6 December 2023
- Fixed Term Contracts – Limit to the use of fixed term contracts for the same role beyond two years or two consecutive contracts – whichever is shorter. If an employer breaks this rule, the contract will still be valid, except for the contract ending clause, meaning the employee will be considered a permanent employee. Some exceptions apply.
See Fact Sheets: Secure Jobs Better Pay
I am tired. My staff are tired. Our clients are tired.
It feels like 2022 has been the longest year ever.
Is it OK to say we are over 2022 and just need a break?
Yes. It’s OK.
Go outside and get some sunshine. (Unless you live in Victoria, in which case, head north).
Take care and freshen up for 2023. It’s going to be an interesting ride!
Want to Start the New Year on The Right Note?
If reading the Employment Essentials – Compliance Checklist 2023 made you query what you need to do to comply with the new laws, please call 0411 275 920 for a no obligation 15 minute chat.
Or, if you are still looking for a fabulous Christmas gift for the person who has everything, why not surprise them with 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.
What I Watched (on Netflix)
The McGees are a nauseatingly loved up couple. Not sure what Syd does other than make dad jokes, but Shea is super talented and I inhale every season of “Dream Makeover”. Episode 5 of season 4 almost resulted in me buying an Airstream. Almost…
What I’m Watching (on Foxtel/Binge)
“Branson” is a 4 part HBO documentary on Sir Richard Branson’s life. Sadly, there’s no footage of me and my conference buddies playing tennis with the great man on Necker Island in May, but still worth watching.
What I’m Watching (on Foxtel/Binge)
“Colin from Accounts” begins with a nipple flashing woman causing a man to run over a dog. (Spoiler: dog survives but there’s a big vet bill). Cue the romance and hilarity that ensues.
What I Can’t Wait To See (On Netflix)
“Emily in Paris” season 3 drops on 21 December. Beautiful clothes. Gorgeous Paris. Vacuous script. What more can one ask for heading into the holidays!
Lame Christmas Movie I Can’t Wait To See (On Netflix)
“The Noel Diary” is about a man (Justin Hartley from “This is Us”) who heads home for Christmas to settle his estranged mother’s estate. Throw in a mysterious diary and a beautiful woman and there may just be a Christmas miracle.
Lame Christmas Movie I Can’t Bring Myself To See (On Apple)
I like Ryan Reynolds…even more than Justin Hartley, but I can’t bring myself to watch him and Will Ferrell in “Spirited” based on the official spiel which says: “For the first time, “A Christmas Carol” is told from the perspective of the ghosts”…. They lost me at “ghosts”.