The Fair Work Commission is extensively varying existing Awards, as a result of the 4-yearly review of Modern Awards.
A number of Awards have recently been varied, including:
– Pastoral Award 2020
– Pharmaceutical Industry Award 2020
– Electrical, Electronic & Communications Contracting Industry Award 2020
– Fitness Industry Award 2020
– Horticulture Award 2020
– Timber Industry Award 2020
– Wine Industry Award 2020
Woolworths – calls for simpler Awards
The Woolworths Chairman has apologised unreservedly for a $500 million staff Wages Underpayment scandal and has indicated the ‘out of control’ industrial Award system is partly to blame.
Woolworths staff were covered by 15 separate Awards and under the General Retail Industry Award, there were 35 clauses and 2,000 rules.
Massage Parlour Operator & Accountants Penalised
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has secured total court penalties of $19,100 after a Victorian Massage Parlour operator admitted it underpaid a Worker $13,522 and provided false Records to inspectors.
The Circuit Court has ordered penalties of $8,500 be paid by the Company. The company’s sole director and company secretary were each penalised $2,800 for their involvement in the underpayments.
The Court has further ordered the company’s accounting firm to pay a $5,000 penalty for its involvement as an accessory in the company’s false Records breaches. The case highlights that the FWO will use accessorial liability Laws to hold professional service firms to account, where they are involved in breaching Workplace Laws.
National Library of Australia signs Enforceable Undertaking
The National Library of Australia has avoided becoming the second federal public body forced to make a “contrition payment” to the FWO, after admitting to underpaying Casual Employees almost $250,000 over 2 decades.
5 months after the ABC agreed to pay $600,000 and enter into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU), following an admission it underpaid 1,900 past and current Employees more than $12 million, the National Library has been spared the indignity of a contrition payment as it enters into its own Enforceable Undertaking with the FWO.
“The National Library’s co-operation in rectifying its non-compliance issues, including making back-payments that occurred well beyond the statute of limitations, and implementing measures to ensure future compliance were key factors in determining that it should not be required to make a contrition payment,” explained the FWO.
There have now been 8 Employers to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) this financial year, including Queensland water service provider Sunwater, IBM and Western Power, BaptistCare and Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust, and WH Smith.
A total of 12 Employers entered Enforceable Undertakings last financial year.
Independent Grocery Retailer Hit with Class Action Claim
Adero Law has filed a class action against the nation’s largest Independent Grocery Retailer on behalf of Salaried Employees allegedly short-changed up to $20 million.
The case claims the Grocers, Drakes Supermarkets and Foodland SA, underpaid Managers by paying them for 38 hours per week, but rostering them on for about 45 hours.
An applicant claims that he and others were also required to perform additional hours before and after each shift, and had to work through shifts without proper breaks.
The application also questions whether it was a common or general practice to require group members to remain on call and work Additional Shifts on days they were not rostered, including on weekends, to cover staff absences.
With up to 1,500 current and former Employees potentially eligible to join the class action, according to Adero Law, the case will argue that their Annualised Salaries did not adequately remunerate them for Extra Work, Allowances and other Entitlements.
A first case management Hearing will be conducted on November 24, 2020.
REDUNDANCY WAS NOT GENUINE
The Fair Work Commission has, in finding an Employee was unfairly Dismissed, reminded Employers that redundancy consultation should be ‘substantive’ and ‘not merely perfunctory’.
The Commissioner accepted the Employer’s concession that it failed to comply with this Obligation, and found the redundancy was not genuine.
Remedy will be decided at a later date.
MYTH: ‘3 WARNINGS’ RULE IN DISMISSAL PROCESS
FACT: The ‘3 Warnings’ Rule is one of the most common misconceptions in Employment Law. It simply does not exist. The starting point is to check what is in the Employment Contract and that the Employee has been warned about their Performance or Conduct prior to Dismissal. In the case of serious Misconduct, it may be appropriate to Dismiss an Employee without any Warnings. It is important to ensure that the Dismissal is not harsh, unjust or unreasonable and to always follow proper process.
If you need any Advice on the above mentioned, or any other Employment related matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
IMPORTANT UPDATE – CHANGES TO OVERTIME FOR CASUALS
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has recently announced updates to the Casual and Overtime Clauses in 97 Awards.
Updated clauses start to operate from the first full pay period on or after 20 November 2020.
The updates are different for each Award, some examples are:
- how Casual and Overtime Loadings interact
- whether Casuals are entitled to Overtime
- the Hours when Overtime applies
Casual Rates in Awards will either increase, decrease or not change at all.
Employers may not be aware of the changes and could run the risk of underpaying Employees.
The Fair Work Ombudsman are in the process of updating the Pay Guides, they should be available this week.
If you have any concerns about how these changes may affect your Casual Employees, please contact us.