- The McGowan government has introduced amendments to the Occupational Safety & Health Act 1984 (WA) to increase penalties for offences under the Act. The significant increases are aimed at ensuring that penalties better reflect the importance of a safe workplace and to bring Western Australia’s penalties in line with other jurisdictions in Australia. To review the Bill and explanatory memorandum, click here.
To keep up to date with all OSH developments in W.A, stay tuned for our upcoming Health and Safety Blog.
- The Full Federal Court has upheld the Fair Work Commission’s ruling on penalty rates in retail and hospitality sectors. The Full Court refused to accept the Union’s challenge that the Commission had been plainly unjust or unreasonable in making its decision. It also held that there was no jurisdictional error in constructing or applying the ‘modern awards objective’ outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The decision of the Full Federal Court means that penalty cuts will go ahead, with public holiday cuts effective 1 July this year and Sunday penalty rate cuts being introduced over several years. To read the full decision, click here.
- In the first racial discrimination prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman, the operator of Scamander Beach Resort Hotel in Tasmania (Yenida Pty Ltd and owner Mr Chang) was found to have taken adverse action against two employees due to their Malaysian Chinese ethnicity. Mr Loh worked as head chef at Scamander Beach Resort Hotel from 2007-2014. Mr Loh was only paid $39,000 per annum while working 51 hours a week. The Ombudsman found Mr Loh and his wife were treated less favourably due to their race and nationality. Judge Baker found Yenida Pty Ltd and Mr Chang underpaid Mr Loh by $17,327.74 and his wife by $8,775.57. To read the full decision, click here.
- The Federal Court has upheld the right for a casual worker to convert to full time employment and fined the employer more than $40,000 for refusing the employee’s request. The employee freight handler, who worked around 30 hours per week for 10 years, sought to exercise his right under a 2013 agreement. The agreement allowed for casuals who had worked on a regular and systematic basis for more than six months to elect permanency on a ‘like for like’ basis. However, the employer only offered the employee 30 hours per week, changed his start time and capped the hours he could work per shift. The employer was found to have breached s. 50 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (contravention of an enterprise agreement) by not granting the employee a ‘like for like’ conversion from his casual contract to full-time employment. In addition to penalties, the employer was also held liable to compensate the employee for lost wages. To read the full decision, click here.
- In a recent decision, the Fair Work Commission has ordered no remedy for an unfairly dismissed accountant because she was deliberately dishonest in her CV. Ms Valenzuela was summarily dismissed for serious misconduct for a number of reasons including failure to lodge a return with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission on time which almost lost the organisation’s public benevolent institution and also for failing to prepare satisfactory financial reports. The Commission found that the reasons for her dismissal should have been categorised as poor performance and therefore found the dismissal was unfair – only to the extent that she should have received notice of termination. However, the Commission referred to the discovery (post-dismissal) that Ms Valenzuela “deliberately deceived” her employer about her qualifications, when she originally applied for the position. In view of this, the Commission found that payment of compensation was not appropriate because if she had been honest about her qualifications she would never have been appointed to the position in the first place. To read the full decision, click here.