Employment and Migration Blog

Tag: employment lawyers parramatta

  • It pays to review your PPL options
    Posted by Anna Ford on 20 May 2013
    Many parents will bemoan the axing of the baby bonus from 1 March 2014, as outlined in the recent Federal Budget. About 28,000 families would miss out completely under the change while another 20,000 are expected to instead take Paid Parental Leave (PPL). So how does PPL work?
  • 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.
  • Heading down the redundancy path
    Posted by Anna Ford on 6 Feb 2013
    I was recently asked to comment on an article for "In the Black" magazine (a CPA publication) on 'what makes a successful redundancy' - and I thought I'd share a snippet of what I said...
  • 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!
  • Workplace bullying in legal terms
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 7 Sep 2012
    A prominent Melbourne employment lawyer, Josh Bornstein, has suggested that we need to rethink how we deal with workplace bullying in legal terms. He says, surely correctly, that the “Brodie’s law” approach, criminalising bullying as akin to stalking, is more symbolic (and legislative “feel good”) than of real benefit, in the vast majority of cases. And he argues that we will never make headway against workplace bullying while it is perceived as a safety issue, essentially because an OH&S focus addresses processes and implementation, and in rare cases penalties for a business that handles a bullying issue very badly, but there is generally no private right of action. But would a much broader right to make a claim about bullying be suitably calibrated to address genuine cases, or would it open floodgates to many cases that are more about general disgruntlement or workplace politics than seriously inappropriate behaviour? As we’ve seen with unfair dismissals, despite the laudable goal to avoid imperatives for employers to pay “go away money”, the simple fact is that wherever there will be costs in money and time to defend claims, money will be paid to make them go away, even in cases of low merit.  And defining bullying for the purposes of a right to make a damages claim would be a particularly perilous minefield. And what that approach ignores is that real cases of bullying generally involve deep-seated cultural issues and behavioural traits of the workplaces, bully and victim.  Might we not achieve more by focussing directly on those?  Of course, in the short and medium term, that will work in decent workplaces but not reach the toxic ones.  And discrimination legislation has certainly permeated everyone’s consciousness because of the risk of claims.  A right of action for bullying might do the same, but at what cost?
  • 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.
  • Crashing and burning
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 7 May 2012
    There was a flurry of media attention in 2008 when Vivienne Dye launched claims against Commsec and the Commonwealth Bank, alleging persistent predatory sexual harassment (in some instances alleging conduct amounting to rape) by two named managers. The managers’ reputations were trashed. However, in the long run it is Ms Dye who has crashed and burned, as the Federal Court dismissed all her claims last month, after a case lasting 94 hearing days! The decision includes many details which would seem far fetched if you read them in a novel, including Ms Dye attending a work party wearing a white fur G-string – as you do!
  • Toyota – oh what a feeling?
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 27 Apr 2012
    There has been a bit of commentary since Toyota notified a large number of employees of redundancy last Monday. Employers having to sack people for redundancy, don’t generally enjoy it, and no doubt Toyota is no exception. The criticism of the methods used have a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” about them. Toyota had announced impending redundancies in January, and seems to have had extensive discussions with the unions, so it would’ve been a surprise to no-one. There has been criticism of tapping people on the shoulder when they arrived for work, and the employees being mini-bussed to a meeting where they were given the details. But if they’d sent a letter, or made a phone call, or sent a text to tell the affected workers, they would have been criticised for not being personal about it.
  • Appeal against 90 minute after school shifts unsuccessful!!!
    Posted by Anna Ford on 9 Nov 2011
    Retailers will very shortly be able to hire high school students on 90 minute casual after-school shifts, after Fair Work Australia rejected the appeal by the Shop Distributive Allied Employer’s Association (refer to previous blog). FWA wasn’t persuaded that the proposed variation of the three hour minimum engagement period under the General Retail Industry Award was “affected by error”. The decision, however, doesn’t mean an immediate start to 90 minute shifts because the Award was not formally varied, but the option shouldn’t be too far away! It is anticipated that 90 minute shifts will only be available where the employee and their parent or guardian agrees, and where employment for a longer period than the period of the engagement is not possible either because of the operational requirements of the employer, or the unavailability of the employee.