Jen's Workplace News


In this newsletter I discuss a trend I’ve noticed in the workplace world. I review the outcome of the Jobs and Skills Summit and look at a case where an elderly woman in her 90s was accused of bullying a middle-aged man.

This week’s “Dear Jen” makes for interesting reading.

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

I hope this newsletter brings you some wisdom and joy!

Cheers, Jen


Jens Lens

What am I seeing out there in the workplace world? 

As businesses get busier and the skills shortage continues, some employers are encouraging (and in some cases, strenuously encouraging) part time staff to move to full time.

This can be problematic.

Part time employees choose to work part time for a reason – for example, due to child or elder care responsibilities.

Employers need to be mindful of their contractual and statutory obligations (including the provision of flexible working arrangements under the Fair Work Act).

Employees should also consider the needs of the business. Remote working options have made it possible for many employees to do a few extra hours and earn extra cash by avoiding the commute.

Take Out Point: Open communication is the key to employers and employees understanding each other’s needs and avoiding potential resentment, redundancy and actionable conduct.


Jens Articles and Cases


From 9 September, the isolation period after a positive COVID test was reduced from seven days to five, for those with no symptoms. The seven-day isolation period will remain in place for workers in high-risk settings, including aged care, disability care and home care.


A Canadian TV station is under fire for allegedly sacking a 58 year old news anchor because her hair was ‘going grey’.


First there was “quiet quitting”. A bit of a misnomer as no-one actually quits their job, they just do the minimum to stay employed. Now we have “acting your wage” – which describes an employee doing the job they are paid to do, but nothing more. Contrary to what some think, neither term is intended to be a synonym for laziness. They relate to pandemic fatigue, disengagement and burnout due to excessive workloads.

Jobs and Skills Summit

The Jobs and Skills Summit was held on 1 and 2 September 2022.

In consultation with industry, unions and other stakeholders the Federal Government has agreed to 36 immediate initiatives including:

  1. An additional $1 billion in joint Federal-State funding for fee-free TAFE in 2023 and accelerated delivery of 465,000 fee-free TAFE places;
  2. A one-off income credit so that Age Pensioners who want to work can earn an additional $4,000 over this financial year without losing any of their pension;
  3. More flexibly utilising $575 million in the National Housing Infrastructure Facility to invest in social and affordable housing, and attract financing from superannuation funds and other sources of private capital; 
  4. Modernising Australia’s workplace relations laws, including to make bargaining accessible for all workers and businesses; 
  5. Amending the Fair Work Act to strengthen access to flexible working arrangements, make unpaid parental leave more flexible and strengthen protection for workers against discrimination and harassment; 
  6. Improving access to jobs and training pathways for women, First Nations people, regional Australians and culturally and linguistically diverse people, including equity targets for training places, 1,000 digital apprenticeships in the Australian Public Service, and other measures to reduce barriers to employment;
  7. An increase in the permanent Migration Program ceiling to 195,000 in 2022-23 to help ease widespread, critical workforce shortages; and
  8. Extending visas and relaxing work restrictions on international students to strengthen the pipeline of skilled labour, and providing additional funding to resolve the visa backlog.

See Media Release:

See Outcomes Document:

Take Out Point: All stakeholders will be keen to see whether talk translates into action over the next 6-12 months.

Elderly Woman in her 90s Accused of Bullying Middle-Aged Man

An employee filed an anti-bullying application in the Fair Work Commission in September 2020 against a Director of his employer. The Director denied the allegations. The parties participated in Conciliation.

Commissioner Simpson stated that during Conciliation “substantial offers were made on a without prejudice basis to attempt to resolve the matter and it was somewhat surprising that the matter did not resolve given the offers exchanged when considered in light of the remedies available through the application before the Commission”.

The parties were ordered to file evidence and submissions so that the matter could be heard in February 2021.

The employee sought an adjournment and the parties filed a number of applications for production of documents.

The employee then took the matter to the Full Bench of the FWC and then the Federal Court in relation to the production of documents issue. The Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed the employee’s application in February 2022.

The employer had given an undertaking that it wouldn’t dismiss the manager until the anti-bullying application had been resolved. When no attempt was made by the employee to reagitate the application, the employer asked the FWC to dismiss it.

Commissioner Simpson noted that the “nature of the bullying jurisdiction is that it is intended that matters be dealt with promptly” and since the commencement of the matter, “I have harboured some reservations about the likelihood of [the employee], a middle aged man in a senior managerial role being capable of being bullied at work by an elderly woman well into her nineties, and that [the employee’s] safety could be at risk because of [her]”.

The Director provided undertakings including not to bully, initiate any contact with, or directly manage the employee in the future. She also completed a harassment course.

The Commissioner was “inclined to the view having considered the history of the matter that the [employee] has engaged in a legal strategy to forestall the substantive matter being finally heard and determined on the basis that it already has an undertaking that preserves the employment relationship”.

The employee’s application was dismissed.

Take Out Point: The anti-bullying regime is there to deal with matters promptly and to provide remedies where the FWC is satisfied that an employee has been bullied, and there is a risk that they will continue to be bullied. It is not there to be used to preserve employment.

See: Damian Stephen [2022] FWC 1667 (29 June 2022)
Jen's Mailbox

Dear Jen,

A few of my employees are doing this “quiet quitting” thing. I don’t get it.

I took care of them during the pandemic, but all I hear from them now is that they want to just do their jobs and go home.

They are doing less work and want more money.

I’m so confused. Help me understand.



Dear Confused Charlie,

During the plague (and even before it) employees were doing more than what was written in their Position Descriptions. There was a culture of “going above and beyond” and “I can’t lose my job”.

Employers got used to this.

COVID has caused many employees to rethink their priorities. Spending time with friends and families is more important to them than spending time with the boss. Unless there are incentives, many employees won’t feel the urge to exceed expectations.

Talk with your employees. Get on the same page about expectations and compensation… before they become “former employees”.

Good luck! 



Jen's Difficult Conversations in the Workplace

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Jen's After Work

Fun Fact

Dolly Parton is bringing out her own line of doggy apparel, accessories and toys. It’s called Doggy Parton. Adorable.

What I’m Watching (on Disney)

“Welcome to Wrexham”: Despite having never the visited the Welsh town of Wrexham, Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney staged a takeover of struggling 5th division English football team, Wrexham AFC…and made a series about it. One for those who like soccer and even those who don’t.

What I’m Watching (on Disney)

“The Bear”: Confusingly, this show is not about a bear, but rather a young fine dining chef who moves back to Chicago to run his family’s sandwich shop (where there are no bears).

Speaking of Chicago…

What I Watched (on 9 Now)

“Chicago Med”: My quest to become a Doctor through “online learning” continues. Season 7 of this fabulous show has dropped.

Podcast I Listened To

“Redefining Sales with Abbie White” (23 August 2021 episode). Want to know what it takes to achieve 8 billion views? Legendary TV producer, storyteller and the wittiest person I know, Maz Farrelly shares her infinite wisdom about being remarkable.

Book I Had Read To Me (on Audible)

“Carrie Soto is Back” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Retired tennis great Carrie Soto makes a comeback at 37. Will Carrie regain her Grand Slam record? Does she fall in love? Was the release of this book timed to coincide with the US Open? Can’t say. Can’t say. Totally was.


Jen's Last Word

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