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Employment and Migration Blog

Tag: employment

  • Sistine Chapel...Part 2
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 11 Mar 2013
    In my last post, I reported on a visit to the Sistine Chapel, and focused on the ceiling but there is much more to the Chapel than that, since most of the wall space is filled with wonderful 16th century paintings in jewel-bright colours. The most dramatic occupies the whole end wall, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, painted 1536-41, more than twenty years after he painted the ceiling frescos. This is full of swirling energy and turmoil, with Christ hurling sinners into hell and raising the saved to paradise. It takes some effort to shift from the movement in the overall image to focus on the details - but when you do, one point in the bottom right corner has particular employment law resonance. In Hell, there is a portly figure with donkey’s ears and a large snake curled around him to cover his nakedness (actually, it is worse, but as this is a respectable professional blog I’ll leave it at that).  This is Minos, judge of the underworld, receiving the souls of the damned.  As a model, Michelangelo used Biagio de Cesena, the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies at the time, presumably without consent.  Michelangelo was always an irascible character, and Biagio was his loudest critic and objected to the many nude figures which Michelangelo included – but had his revenge in perpetuity.
  • Safety in the Sistine
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 18 Feb 2013
    As many of my clients know, I am taking a gap year in 2013, travelling the UK and Europe so my posts this year will have a travel theme. I have just finished 2 ½ weeks in Rome, where one of the top priorities of my wife and I was to see the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. You enter through a small door, onto a marble pavement which extends a couple of metres and then goes down 3 steps to the main floor. And as everyone knows about Michelangelo painting the ceiling, most visitors stop, and look up to stare, as soon as they get through the door, attention pretty much distracted from the steps by the sight of God creating the world, and creating Adam, and the brightly coloured portraits of sibyls and prophets. So, immediate WH&S issue: the risk of someone tumbling down the stairs is pretty high. And if the Work Health & Safety legislation applied, the Vatican would clearly have a duty to all these visitors to a workplace. At first glance, there is nothing in place to address the risk: no barriers, no high-vis markers on the edges of the marble steps, no prominent signs (no-one would look at them anyway!). It seems “all reasonably practicable steps” have not been taken to remove or minimise the risk.
  • Happy New Year Readers
    Posted by Anna Ford on 21 Jan 2013
    For the next 12 months I will be heading up the Employment Law and Business Migration team here at Coleman Greig, while Stephen Booth takes a sabbatical and ventures around Europe (in my opinion - a well deserved break after 25 years of practice!). If we are lucky we might hear from Stephen throughout the year - maybe even with a description of the picturesque locations he happens to be exploring - but for now it is probably best to review some of the latest developments in the employment law/immigration space over the holiday period!
  • EOFY!
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 3 Jul 2012
    Pay rates All award rates increased 2.9% as of 1 July. So if you pay at or close to award rates, or pay at an annual rate which is not far above award rates but which is intended to include all obligations, then it is a good idea to check the rates you pay against the revised pay rates in the award to make sure you comply, both with base rate and with the total due including overtime etc.    If you need assistance doing this “IR health check”, please give us a call.
  • Shades of DJs/McInnes/Fraser-Kirk: Harmers strikes again
    Posted by on 4 Jul 2011
    The SMH reported on 20 June that Sally Berkeley, an ex-employee of Pacific Brands (ASX200 company, majority of board being women) has sued for $9m for bullying and discrimination. The claim, filed by Harmers, the lawyers who represented Fraser-Kirk’, is reported to be mainly for future loss of income, because of stress and panic attacks.
  • Rude? Certainly! Discrimination? Not necessarily.
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 21 Jun 2011
    There was a case last week (Trapman v Sydney Water) in which an indigenous labour hire worker recovered $5,000 damages from supervisor and end-user employer because the supervisor told a group, including the worker, a joke about Aborigines. The supervisor had asked the worker’s permission to tell the joke, which was given, but the Court accepted that the worker should not have been put in the position of having to tell his supervisor that he was unhappy about a racist joke being told – the very fact that the supervisor asked for permission meant that the supervisor knew the joke was inappropriate.
  • U R fired!
    Posted by Anna Ford on 21 Jun 2011
    There’ve been a few instances of termination by text surfacing in recent FWA decisions. On the face of it, sounds like pretty poor HR, but there can be exceptions. I had an unfair dismissal case recently where the termination was by text, and it seemed OK to me – but this was in the context of the employee having been refused leave, saying he’d take the time off anyway and get a doctor’s certificate, then failing to show for several days, refusing to come to the door when his boss called by, and refusing to take his boss’s calls. Sending a text in those circumstances at least had the virtue of being in writing (as required by the FWA), and was therefore better than leaving a voicemail. However, it would have been better still if a snail mail had followed with all the usual details. Not hard to do. We never had to put it to the test as the employee lost interest and cancelled the conciliation.

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