Jen's Workplace News


We are back with a workplace trend, news snippets, sage advice in the “Dear Jen” column and our gift to you is a fabulous checklist… “Are You Paying Employees Correctly?”

And of course, I share my recommendations for your viewing pleasure.

I hope this newsletter brings you some wisdom and joy!

Cheers, Jen


Jens Lens

We are seeing more employers pushing for workers to return to the office or at least work under a hybrid model. At the same time, employers and employees are increasing their use of ChatGPT. These may appear to be two separate issues, but they actually need to be considered together.

Take Out Point: The thing that distinguishes an employee from a chatbot is the fact that the employee is human. Employees who don’t grab the opportunity to demonstrate the value of their humanness, may be inadvertently rewriting their Job Descriptions.



Job Of the Week

Being a Matilda: Is there anyone who doesn’t want this job?

Remote Working App Zoom Directs Staff to Stop Remote Working

Oh the irony…

Despite making billions during the Covid-era remote work boom, Zoom has directed employees to be onsite 2 days a week on the basis that the hybrid model is the “most effective for Zoom”.

Take Out Point: Whilst remote work has its benefits, there is a growing perception amongst larger organisations that the hybrid model boosts productivity.

See: Zoom Making Employees Return to the Office

Employee Fired For Insufficient Keystrokes

More irony…

An employee of a large insurance company worked from home looking after regulatory matters, including work from home compliance. Her employer reviewed her cyber activity and identified that she had significant periods with no or minimal keyboard activity. She was given a warning.

The employee said that she didn’t believe the data. She said sometimes “the workload is a bit slow, but I have never not worked. I mean, I may go to the shops from time to time, but that is not for the entire day”.

After 18 years’ service the employment was terminated. The employee brought an unfair dismissal claim.

The Fair Work Commission found that the employee had not been performing her duties as required and she failed to provide a credible explanation. The claim was dismissed.

Take Out Point: As more employees embrace remote work, employers are increasingly monitoring output. Employees need to ensure that they are performing the inherent requirements of their role – no matter where they hit those keystrokes.

See: Suzie Cheikho v Insurance Australia Group Services Limited

Can An Employee be Terminated If They Have Never Worked?

An employee was offered employment as a casual ‘fragrance brand ambassador’ and completed her onboarding, however after she refused to attend unpaid training, the role was withdrawn. Before working a single shift, the employee was dismissed. The employee brought a General Protections Dismissal Application against the employer.

The employer contended that because the employment had not commenced, the employee could not have been dismissed. However, the Fair Work Commission ruled that the employer had terminated an employment relationship with the employee.

The fact that the employee had not started working did not mean there was no employment relationship. The matter was referred for a Conference.

Take Out Point: An employment relationship can exist even if no work has been performed.

See: Argentier v City Perfume Retail Pty Ltd (2023)

Woolies’ 1000+ Criminal Charges For Unpaid Long Service Leave

Woolworths Group Limited is alleged to have underpaid more than $1 million of long service leave to 1235 Victorian employees. Not paying long service leave is considered a criminal offence in Victoria and the Fresh Food People are now facing more than 1000 charges in the Melbourne’s Magistrate’s Court. A
Woolworths spokesperson has confirmed that they have made back payments, corrected leave balances and apologised to affected staff.

Take Out Point: Not paying employees their correct entitlements can lead to serious and expensive penalties.

See: Woolworths Faces Criminal Charges and our Checklist for you to use – Are You Paying Employees Correctly?

High Court Finds That Urinating On Colleague Not Done “In The Course of Employment”

A food and beverage employee woke up to find his team leader urinating on him in their shared room at their employer’s Whitsundays Resort. The shocked employee (who had been mistaken for a toilet) suffered a cataplectic attack after inhaling and choking on the urine.

The High Court held that there was not a proper connection between the drunken act and the team leader’s employment, finding that there was nothing pointing to the act “being authorised in any way required by or being incidental to, the employment”.

The employer was therefore held not to be held vicariously liable for the distressing incident caused by its employee.

Take Out Point: Whether an employer is liable for a drunken employee’s conduct depends on the facts.

Are your workplace policies on drugs and alcohol in the workplace up to date? Contact us if you have any questions or need your policies reviewed.

See: CCIG Investments Pty Ltd v Schokman [2023] HCA 21 (2 August 2023)


Jen's Difficult Conversations in the Workplace

Difficult Conversations – Strategy + Scripts + Documentation

Important conversations require planning. Often we know they need to have a conversation but can’t find the right words.

That’s  where I come into it. I have a knack for preparing strategies, scripts and documents for:

  • Performance management conversations
  • Redundancy consultations
  • Managing toxic employees
  • Addressing bullying and harassment claims
  • Managing requests to Work From Home and Flexible Work Arrangements.

Let me take the stress out of handling these workplace issues…

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 workshop or coaching.


Jen's Mailbox

Dear Jen

I work in sports merchandising.

I may or may not have been involved in my employer’s decision to not create any Women’s World Cup goal keeper jerseys.

My Mackenzie Arnold loving daughter isn’t speaking to me. My boss isn’t either.

Any suggestions for how keep my job?

Mark from Marketing (at least for now)

Dear Mark from Marketing, 

Soccer = penalty shoot outs = goalies.

Might be time to update the CV.



Jen's After Work


Show I Loved Even More Second Time Around (on Netflix/ABC iView)

Season 1 of “Fisk” is now on Netflix world-wide. After a glowing review in the New York Times, even Americans are falling for Kitty Flanagan as the brown suit wearing suburban lawyer Helen Tudor-Fisk.

What I’m Being Drip Fed (on Amazon)

“The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart” is a series based on a book everyone said I should read. (Who has time to read?) It stars Sigourney Weaver, Asher Keddie, Leah Purcell, secrets and the Aussie outback. Loving it.

What I Watched (on Netflix)

Matthew Broderick stars in the latest fictionalised account of the evil Sackler family’s peddling of OxyContin. “Painkiller” is similar to last year’s “Dopesick”. Hard to watch, but compelling.

What I Loved (despite there only being one season on 7plus)

I’ve never been to Chicago, but thanks to Dick Wolf’s shows, I know there’s lots of crime, fires and sick people. I just inhaled “Chicago Justice” – think “Chicago PD” plus prosecutors who solve every case in under 1 hour. Clever and efficient!

Doco I Loved (on Netflix)

“Mark Cavendish: Never Enough” explores this amazing athlete’s Tour de France highs and mental illness and injury lows. Watch it even if you don’t like cycling.

What I Escaped With (Ch 10 or Paramount)

Had a long day? Need a laugh? “The Inspired Unemployed (Impractical) Jokers” is silly and just a little bit clever.


Jen's Last Word

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