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27 October commencement for franchisor liability under “vulnerable worker” workplace laws – What can we learn from franchisor “joint employer” liability in the United States - Sep 2017

As is often the case in franchising, Australia is following the lead of the United States and introducing laws to make franchisors responsible where franchisees have contravened the employment laws.  The new test commencing on 27 October 2017 introduces liability for contravention of employment laws where the franchisor knew or reasonably should have known about the franchisee’s conduct, but did not take reasonable steps to prevent it.

Franchisors in the US have had similar responsibilities for over 30 years, albeit in 2015 a more onerous standard has applied.

Due to events in recent years in the US, this issue of joint responsibility was the topic of much debate at the International Franchise Association conference earlier this year. 

Pathways to permanency: latest word from the FWC on casual and part-time employment - Aug 2017

On 5 July 2017, as part of the four-yearly review of modern awards, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission handed down its decision on casual and part-time employment. In this decision, the Full Bench pronounced some noteworthy changes – particularly regarding employees’ conversion from casual to permanent employment.

David Ey, Partner and Shauna Roeger, Lawyer, explain the key implications of the decision for employers.

Ignorance is not always bliss: Employer liable for employees’ breach of fiduciary duties to former employer - Aug 2017

A recent decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has found Ancient Order of Foresters in Victoria Friendly Society Limited (Foresters) liable for knowingly participating in, and profiting from, a breach by two of its employees of their fiduciary duties to their former employer, Lifeplan Australia Friendly Society Ltd (Lifeplan).

David Ey, Partner and Irene Nikoloudakis, Law Clerk, review this decision, and consider its implications for employers.

You’ll have to say it at the SAET: Expansion of the role of the South Australian Employment Tribunal - Jul 2017

The jurisdiction of the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) has recently been expanded, meaning that a broader range of matters can be heard by the SAET, with consequential changes to the procedural rules for the handling of non-workers’ compensation matters.

Emily Haar, Associate, and Irene Nikoloudakis, Law Clerk, delve into the changes.

Federal Court says “bullied” employee can’t have her cake and eat it too - Jul 2017

A Full Bench of the Federal Court has refused to award a former seafarer substantive damages for loss of income and associated losses after she had received a settlement sum in a separate proceeding in which she agreed she was unfit to continue working in the maritime industry.

John Evans, Lawyer, discusses the decision and the timely reminder for employers to ensure their workplace policies are updated.

The Fair Work Commission awards a 3.3 per cent increase to the national minimum wage and minimum modern award wages - Jun 2017

On 6 June 2017, the Fair Work Commission’s Expert Panel delivered its decision in the Annual Wage Review 2016-17 [2017] FWCFB 3500. The decision directly affects over 2.3 million Australians reliant on minimum rates of pay.

Shauna Roeger, Lawyer, summarises the key aspects of the decision. 

A call for licensing and registration in the labour hire industry - Jun 2017

The Victorian and Queensland governments have recently announced that they are committed to reforming the labour hire industry in their states. On 25 May 2017 the Queensland government introduced the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 (Qld), which seeks to establish a mandatory licensing scheme for labour hire companies operating in Queensland and create a number of offences relating to this scheme.

Irene Nikoloudakis, Law Clerk, discusses these announcements and the proposed legislative reforms.

Does Germany do it better? - Jun 2017

Visiting academic, Dr Christian Werthmueller, a lecturer at the University of Manheim in Germany, joined Piper Alderman’s employment relations team for a couple of months to learn about the Australian employment relations framework and undertake research into what overseas employers need to know when setting up business in Australia. During his time working with the Australian team, Dr Werthmueller noted a number of differences between German and Australian employment relations systems and summarises his key findings below. 

Changes to the Fair Work Act targeting the Franchise Sector - May 2017

The Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 proposes a significant new direction by making Franchisors liable for the breaches of their corporate subsidiaries and Franchisees.

Jenny Needham, Senior Associate and Ben Motro, Senior Associate discuss the issues Franchisors need to consider. 

Hands off: Internal investigation documents and freedom of information - May 2017

The Freedom of Information Act 1985 (Vic) (Act) and its interstate and Commonwealth equivalents provide a means to access public sector documents in the name of open and transparent government.  However a recent decision affirms that the exclusions under the Act extend to protecting operational employees’ testimony taken as part of investigations and ensuring future potential witnesses will contribute to internal investigations. The impact of Country Fire Authority v McGregor (Review of Regulation) [2017] VCAT 582 will impact organisations subject to the freedom of information framework.  While “employee records” exemptions exclude many private sector employers, public sector and volunteer workforces are within scope.
Hannah Linossier, Associate and John Evans, Lawyer discuss the important implications of this decision.

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