Victorian Labour Hire Licensing Update

New Legislation Enacted

From October 30, 2019, heavy penalties will apply to labor hire providers who operate without a license and to businesses that use unlicensed labor hire providers in Victoria. Similar schemes apply in Queensland (since 2018) and in South Australia from November 1, 2019. A company taken to provide labor hire services must hold a valid labor hire license, unless they fall within one of the exceptions set out in the Regulations. To obtain a license under the Victorian scheme, providers must pass a “fit and proper person test” and demonstrate compliance with workplace laws, labor hire laws and relevant standards.

New Christmas Eve Public Holiday for Queensland from 2019

New Order or Decree

In September 2019, the Queensland Government announced its intention to introduce a new public holiday in Queensland from December 2019 whereby Queenslanders will be entitled to the night before Christmas as a half-day public holiday. It is intended that the public holiday hours will commence at 6pm on December 24. Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the proposed law change would mean workers could decline to work after 6pm on the night before Christmas, or be compensated with public holiday penalty rates if they are scheduled to work from 6pm onwards. Similar laws are already in place in South Australia and the Northern Territory. The idea will be open to public comment in Queensland for the next month, but the government plans to change the law before Christmas this year and it is expected that the new law will come into effect.

Federal Court Defines Meaning of a “Day” for Purposes of Personal Leave

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, employees are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave per year. The Act does not define a “day” for this purpose and there is inconsistency on this issue within the Act. In August 2019, the Full Bench of the Federal Court handed down a decision regarding the meaning of a “day” for the purpose of personal/carer’s leave under the Act. The Court concluded that a “day” of personal leave referred to a “working day.” A “working day” is based on the portion of a 24-hour period that would otherwise have been allotted to work if the person had not taken leave.

Fair Work Commission Finds Dismissal for Social Media Posts Harsh

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

A recent FWC decision confirms that employers are entitled to manage their employee social media use outside of the workplace, but the FWC will pay careful attention to the context and circumstances surrounding an employee’s conduct when deciding whether a dismissal for a breach of a social media policy is warranted. The employee’s personal circumstances including their psychological state at the time the conduct took place, the impact on the employer’s business and reputation, as well as the impact on other employees needs to be considered. Of note, in this case, although the company had a social media policy that was rolled out to its employees, the company did not conduct education or training on the policy and this was taken into account by the FWC in determining that the dismissal was harsh. As such, companies should ensure that they not only have adequate policies in place but that employees are trained regularly on workplace policies.

Fair Work Commission Defines “Worker” to Include “Carer” for Purposes of Anti-Bullying Jurisdiction

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

The Fair Work Commission has permitted a foster carer to have legal representation in respect to a stop-bullying order application. The respondent charity raised a jurisdictional objection on the basis that the carer was not defined as a ‘worker’ under the Fair Work Act 2009 and was therefore ineligible to bring an application under the provisions of the Act. However, the Commission ultimately concluded that the carer was a ‘worker’. In making this finding, the Commission considered relevant the fact that the worker had entered into a Foster Care Agreement, which provided further support for the finding that the work being performed was ‘for’ the charitable organization.