Allens

Workplace Relations

Our experienced Workplace Relations legal team regularly publishes articles and updates - the full list of publications appears below. Read up on the challenges, changes and complex legislation now governing the modern workplace. If you'd like to be notified when we add new workplace relations publications to the site, please go to our subscription page to sign up for email alerts or, alternatively, you can subscribe to our RSS feed.

Read about Allens' team track record in workplace relations.

Workplace Relations Publications

  • Linklaters Insights: New board pay rules - are they working?

    29 October 2014

    FTSE 100 companies have consulted far more widely with their shareholders on board pay and there have been far fewer shareholder 'revolts' on pay as a result. These are among the key findings of a Linklaters report analysing how FTSE 100 companies - throughout the 2014 AGM season - have reacted to the new directors remuneration legislation which came into force a year ago this month. It is also predicted that the AGM season in 2015 will be an even quieter one than this year in terms of board pay.

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  • Audio: WA introduces harmonised WHS Bill with high fines

    27 October 2014

    The Western Australian Government has introduced into Parliament the Work Health and Safety Bill, which will introduce significant changes to WHS obligations in the state. Special Counsel Eleanor Jewell speaks to BRR Media about the implications for employers if the Bill was to be passed in its current form.

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  • Focus: Back to a future for employee share scheme options

    17 October 2014

    Dust off your old employee option plans, as options look set to make a comeback. In consultations with Treasury earlier this year, we were informed that the Federal Government was considering introducing a special tax regime for 'start-ups' but that there was limited appetite to reverse any of the 2009 tax changes that largely resulted in the death of options for Australian employees. So, it was to our pleasant surprise that, on 14 October 2014, the Government announced that, from 1 July 2015, Australia will be moving back to the global norm of employee options granted by all companies generally being taxed on exercise. Special concessions for start-up companies are also proposed. Partner Sarah Bernhardt and Senior Associate Shaun Cartoon, members of Allens' Head Office & Governance team, report.

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  • Audio: High Court rules on adverse action case

    16 October 2014

    The High Court today has handed down an important ruling in regards to adverse action stemming from an industrial dispute. Partner Jamie Wells spoke to BRR Media about the implications for employers responding to industrial disputes.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    17 September 2014

    In this issue we look at the recent watershed appeal decision on damages in sexual harassment cases; further signs from the Fair Work Commission that employers need to show caution when dismissing employees with mental illnesses; proving the reasonableness of redeployment in redundancy; the implications of failing to specify notice entitlements in employment contracts; and legal professional privilege and investigation reports.

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  • Focus: Term of mutual trust and confidence not implied into Australian employment contracts

    10 September 2014

    A landmark High Court decision has determined that a term of mutual trust and confidence is not necessary and should not be implied at law into employment contracts in Australia. Special Counsel Eleanor Jewell reports.

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  • Focus: Workplace Health & Safety Quarterly

    5 August 2014

    We look at the circumstances surrounding the prosecution of a business for using hazardous chemicals; the courts move to increase penalties for WHS breaches; a new monetary threshold for principal contractor duties in Victoria; and the growing use of enforceable undertakings as an alternative to prosecutions under model WHS laws.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    25 June 2014

    We look at the circumstances where a court may not grant an injunction to restrain an employee from working with a competitor; the Fair Work Commission's position on legal representation; a case that helps clarify when restructuring roles will create genuine redundancy; whether a gift to employees who worked during a strike can be construed as adverse action; an assessment of the first six months of the new anti-bullying jurisdiction; and an employer's right to proper information about an employee's illness.

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  • Audio: Will new Senate impact proposed workplace changes?

    5 June 2014

    A raft of important workplace relations legislation is waiting to be passed by the Senate. Special Counsel Eleanor Jewell spoke to BRR Media about the more important Bills and how the makeup of the new Senate may affect these proposed changes.

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  • Focus: Work Health & Safety

    23 April 2014

    In this issue we report on amendments to Queensland's WHS laws; new harmonised WHS laws to be introduced in Western Australia; the Fair Work Commission's decision upholding saliva drug testing as the most appropriate method; and the first WHS model laws prosecution.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    27 February 2014

    We look at a union's contravention of the general protection laws; new legislation that will expand the powers of the federal building industry regulator; the Fair Work Commission's ruling on urine testing and its implications for employers; a Fair Work Commission ruling affirming reinstatement as the primary remedy in cases of unfair dismissal; a decision supporting state governments' building and construction codes of conduct; discerning adverse action from lawful industrial action; and guidance on requiring compliance with a social media policy applying outside the workplace.

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  • Audio: New harmonized WHS laws for WA resources sector

    25 February 2014

    The Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum has flagged the introduction of harmonised workplace health and safety laws for the WA resources sector by early 2015. Special Counsel Eleanor Jewell spoke with BRR Media on what these new laws are likely to look like and what companies can do to ready themselves for their introduction.

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  • Audio: REPLAY 22/11/2013: New anti-bullying jurisdiction starting soon

    3 January 2014

    The first day of 2014 will see the beginning of a new jurisdiction to tackle the problem of workplace bullying. Senior Associate Andrew Stirling, from the Workplace Relations group at Allens, speaks to BRR Media about the new regime.

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  • Focus: Occupational Health & Safety

    10 December 2013

    In this issue we look at the continuing debate on the merits of saliva versus urine drug testing; the introduction of on-the-spot fines for WHS breaches in the ACT; revised national codes of practice for the construction and stevedoring industries; the need to properly particularise an offence when prosecuting a WHS offence; changes to right-of-entry laws in Queensland; a case that highlights an employer's duty of care even where there are multiple entities with simultaneous control of a workplace; and the substantial changes to Queensland's workers' compensation scheme.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    9 December 2013

    We look at employees' workplace rights under the adverse action provisions of the Fair Work Act; when employers may stand down employees; the scope of an order requiring industrial action to stop; whether wearing a union t-shirt in the workplace is industrial action; the offshore reach of the Fair Work legislation; and changes in the way employers should respond to defective adverse action claims.

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  • Audio: New anti-bullying jurisdiction starting soon

    22 November 2013

    The first day of 2014 will see the beginning of a new jurisdiction to tackle the problem of workplace bullying. Senior Associate Andrew Stirling, from the Workplace Relations group at Allens, speaks to BRR Media about the new regime.

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  • Allens insights: New bullying laws should not ignore employers

    22 November 2013

    The first day of 2014 will see the beginning of a new regime to tackle the problem of workplace bullying.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    20 November 2013

    In this issue we look at a High Court decision that considers when an injury will have been suffered in the course of employment; whether employer-provided accommodation can be regarded as a payment under Fair Work legislation; the context of a dismissal mitigating a valid reason for termination; the fine line between an abrasive personality and bullying in an unfair dismissal case; and the circumstances under which an employer can ask for an independent medical assessment of an employee.

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  • Audio: Election impacts on workplace relations

    9 October 2013

    The newly elected Abbott Government has announced a range of policies that will impact upon Australian companies across a number of sectors, with potential changes in the areas of tax, climate change, infrastructure, competition, workplace relations, foreign investment and technology, media and communications. Special Counsel Eleanor Jewell, from the Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution group at Allens, speaks to BRR Media about the impact of the election results on workplace relations.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    9 September 2013

    In this issue: we look at an employee's termination for expressing political views on Twitter; whether an employee could rely on the protection of company policies inconsistent with terms in his employment contract; an adverse finding against an employer for disciplining an employee over health and safety issues; when redistribution of work responsibilities will amount to repudiation; unreasonable refusal to offer part-time employment following parental leave; and the distinction between contractual and other employment obligations.

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  • Focus: Occupational Health & Safety

    22 August 2013

    We look at the Queensland State Coroner's findings into the deaths of workers under the Federal Government Home Insulation Program; an unresolved debate around drug testing in the workplace; the New Zealand Good Governance Practices Guideline for Managing Health and Safety Risks; federal legislative amendments that create a new bullying jurisdiction; and New Zealand's most significant reform of its workplace health and safety system in 20 years.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    30 July 2013

    We look at the risks of dismissing an employee on the basis of a sham redundancy; the need to clearly document changes to employment arrangements; when legal representation before the Fair Work Commission will not be granted; an employer's duty of care in relation to workplace bullying; and a case illustrating the difference between adverse action and unfair dismissal.

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  • Client Update: Key changes to bullying laws

    28 June 2013

    Laws were passed yesterday to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to introduce new anti-bullying measures allowing individual workers to bring an action to stop workplace bullying. Employers should ensure they have a policy and procedures in place to respond to bullying claims. Partner Simon Dewberry and Law Graduate Timothy Leschke report.

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  • Focus: Key changes to working conditions for offshore oil and gas projects

    3 June 2013

    A proposed amendment to Australia's migration legislation seeks to ensure that foreign offshore oil and gas workers will require a 457 visa and be subject to Australian employment law. If this change is made, owners and operators of offshore oil and gas projects will need to ensure they and their contractors are aware of, and comply with, their obligations regarding visas and the application of Australian employment laws. The proposed amendment will also most likely increase the scope for union activity on these projects. Special Counsel Eleanor Jewell reports.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    17 May 2013

    We report on union eligibility rules; what constitutes an offer of acceptable alternative employment; the consequences of an employee's refusal of a settlement offer; an ATO ruling on ordinary hours of work; and whether a complaint about employment made to an employer can constitute a 'workplace right'.

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  • Client Update: Coalition releases industrial relations policy

    10 May 2013

    The Coalition released its industrial relations policy yesterday. Overall, the policy does not contemplate radical changes and instead confirms the Coalition's intention to work within the existing industrial relations framework. However, there are several interesting issues arising from the policy, particularly in relation to unions' rights of entry and enterprise bargaining. Partner Simon Dewberry and Senior Associate Rima Hor report on the key proposals.

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  • Paper: Submission to House of Representatives Inquiry into the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013

    24 April 2013

    This paper contains details of the submissions prepared by Allens for the purpose of addressing the proposed amendments outlined in the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    19 April 2013

    We report on the clarification of when an 'arrangement' could meet the transfer of business test; changes to the Fair Work legislation; under what circumstances a termination payment is a genuine redundancy payment; issues when seeking to stay a reinstatement order; and policy requirements for avoiding vicarious liability for an employee's unlawful sexual harassment.

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  • Audio: 61,500 days lost to IR disputes in 2012

    9 April 2013

    The number of days lost to industrial disputes increased sharply in 2012. Partners Anthony Arrow and Simon Dewberry spoke to BRR Media about the likely reasons behind the increase, the lessons learned, and how businesses can manage industrial relations risk.

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  • Linklaters Insights: Withdrawal of benefit upon a breach of a settlement agreement

    14 March 2013

    The High Court of England & Wales recently confirmed that where an employer and employee had signed a compromise agreement to oversee the employee's departure, the employer was entitled to withhold a conditional benefit where the employee breached the conditions of the agreement.

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  • Audio: Further changes to anti-discrimination laws

    28 February 2013

    There have been some key changes to anti-discrimination laws flagged in recent months. Partner Simon Dewberry speaks to BRR Media about the latest developments and their impact on businesses.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    20 February 2013

    We look at a case that points to greater shareholder power to scrutinise executives' termination pay; the limits on the operation of restraint of trade clauses; difficulties faced by employers relying on abandonment of employment as a basis for termination; and the importance of strict compliance with prescribed legislative steps when negotiating an enterprise agreement.

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  • Audio: Striking balance on executive remuneration

    14 February 2013

    Proposed regulatory changes for executive remuneration was the key topic at Allens' Corporate Counsel Seminar Series this week. Following his presentation as part of the series, Executive Partner Paul Quinn spoke to BRR Media about the changes to executive remuneration and the effects of the 'clawback' and 'two-strikes' provisions

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  • Focus: The Australian implications of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy

    21 December 2012

    The criminal charges arising from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico during 2010 are a timely reminder of the potential criminal consequences of breaching duties under Australian work health and safety laws. Partner Tracey Greenaway and Special Counsel Eleanor Jewell report.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    20 December 2012

    We look at when regulations will constitute a 'workplace law' for General Protections claims; whether employees can proceed with unfair dismissal claims against companies in voluntary administration; a new focus for gender equality laws; and a Full Federal Court decision that confirms the broad scope of when injuries will be considered to have been suffered in the course of employment.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    4 December 2012

    We look at serious misconduct relating to pay arrangements as a basis for summary dismissal; the reinstatement of an employee terminated for posting offensive comments about his managers on social media; the reinstatement of a union delegate dismissed for bullying; redundancy not being genuine because of the employer's failure to consider all available redeployment options; and two recent decisions upholding restraint clauses in employment contracts.

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  • Focus: Consolidation of Federal anti-discrimination laws

    21 November 2012

    The Federal Government has released draft legislation consolidating federal anti-discrimination laws. Partner Simon Dewberry and Senior Associate Rachel Nicolson report.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    30 October 2012

    We look at claiming unjustifiable hardship to resist a disability discrimination claim; liability for HR policy breaches; opt-out clauses and enterprise agreements; steps to avoid vicarious liability for sexual harassment; Fair Work Australia's approach to the 'better off overall' test; and amendments to the Fair Work legislation.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    13 September 2012

    In this issue we look at the issue of persistent 'surface' bargaining; when it is reasonable to check the veracity of a workers' compensation claim; consultation as a component of a genuine redundancy; and enforcing a lengthy restraint.

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  • Client Update: High Court guidance on adverse action claims

    10 September 2012

    In overturning a recent Full Federal Court of Australia decision, the High Court found that an employee does not have special protection if they are a union member or are otherwise engaged in lawful industrial activity. Partner Peter Arthur and Senior Associate Andrew Stirling report.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    10 August 2012

    We look at a Federal Court decision upholding a finding that adverse action had been taken against an aircraft engineer who made a complaint about his entitlements; an employee receiving workers' compensation for a psychological injury suffered after a negative mid-year review; the Queensland Court of Appeal restraining a salesperson from performing duties for a competitor; and a finding that a payment in lieu of notice can be a termination payment within Part 2D.2 of the Corporations Act.

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  • Client Update: Review into Fair Work Act released

    3 August 2012

    The Federal Government's review into the Fair Work Act has recommended amendments, but there is no prospect of substantive change, and whatever change does occur will be delayed while further consultation takes place. Partner Tim Frost and Senior Associate Andrew Stirling look at the main recommendations.

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    29 June 2012

    We look at the Federal Court having confirmed that protected industrial action to force an employer to bargain for an enterprise agreement is allowable; penalties for unsafe work practices; a three-year post-employment restraint being held to be reasonable; and a dismissal as part of a global restructure being held to be a genuine redundancy

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  • Focus: Are you on the job while 'on the job'?

    24 April 2012

    A recent decision that has confirmed that compensation is available to an employee (injured while having sex in a hotel room during a work trip) highlights the broad scope under the current law as to when injuries will be regarded as having taken place during the course of employment. Partner John Edmond, Senior Associate Jonathan Light and Lawyer Stephen Lloyd report on the decision that has particular implications for employers and worker's compensation insurers

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  • Client Update: Revised Victorian Implementation Guidelines for construction industry

    10 April 2012

    Revised Victorian guidelines will create uncertainty for Victorian building industry participants. Partner Simon Dewberry and Senior Associate Andrew Stirling report

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    5 April 2012

    In this issue we look at the findings of the Federal Court in a sexual harassment case; the issues relevant to the enforceability of restraint clauses; what level of responsibility companies may have for the employees of their sub-contractors; and the issue of procedural fairness in dismissal processes

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  • Client Update: High Court rules on safety duty

    3 April 2012

    The High Court has confirmed that simply engaging a contractor to perform work may be a reasonably practicable way for a principal to ensure worker health and safety. Partner Simon Dewberry and Senior Associate Andrew Stirling report

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  • Focus: Workplace Relations

    20 March 2012

    In this issue we report on a summary dismissal of union delegates case; opt-out clauses in enterprise agreements; an adverse action claim case; and what conduct will constitute sexual harassment

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  • Focus: 'Phoenixing' reforms introduced

    29 February 2012

    The Federal Government has introduced draft laws directed at companies that engage in 'phoenix'-related activity, including imposing liabilities on the directors of those companies. Partner Simon Dewberry, Special Counsel Luke Gattuso and Senior Associate Matthew McCarthy report

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  • Audio: Fair Work Act needs changes

    28 February 2012

    The Federal Government is currently conducting a post-implementation review of the Fair Work Act. Partners Jamie Wells and Simon Dewberry spoke to BRR Media about some aspects of the Act that should be changed

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