Shane Koelmeyer's Blog (217)

Everything old is new again: accident pay provisions and modern awards

What is accident pay?

Historically, accident pay was considered to be a form of “make up pay” for the difference between the amount of workers compensation paid by the insurer and the employee’s award rate or actual rate of pay (i.e. any over award payments).

Accident pay became payable to an employee whilst they were on workers compensation for up to 26 weeks. This entitlement prior to 1 January 2010 was only derived from a federal award, state award or…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on September 2, 2015 at 15:30 — No Comments

Where there is smoke, is there fire? Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace

An increasing number of workplaces have introduced drug and alcohol policies which include random drug testing. These introductions are not always warmly welcomed.

In the recent Fair Work Commission decision of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union-Construction and General Division v Port Kembla Coal Terminal Limited [2015] FWCFB 4075, the Full Bench held that it was not unjust or unreasonable for Port Kembla Coal Terminal Limited (the Employer) to introduce…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on September 2, 2015 at 15:30 — No Comments

Workplace Conversations & Resilience - Don't be Afraid

Modern day employers are increasingly required to adapt to the sensitivities of their employees – particularly when needing to raise performance issues.

Managers and key decision makers need to learn how to have those difficult conversations with employees – a key part of being a good manager. These conversations should take place in a way that does not demean or intimidate the employee as well as protecting the Company’s position when it comes to being able to defend claims for…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on August 26, 2015 at 19:00 — No Comments

"WAGs", "HABs" and team culture

The appearance of the wives, girlfriends and families of members of Australian cricket team on the current Ashes tour of England are not only fodder for celebrity gossip magazines and websites, they also attract the attention and criticism of cricket commentators.

After Australia lost the Ashes, the presence of the partners and families were labelled as a distraction to the players. The separate lives of the players off the field during a tour has been criticised as having an adverse…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on August 18, 2015 at 11:00 — No Comments

Short Changed?

Since the introduction of the modern award system in 2010 many employers have found it difficult to understand the complex requirements. In fact, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) reported that for the 2013-2014 financial year it recovered more than $23 million for 15,483 workers.

However, it is not just small businesses who are finding understanding the modern award system difficult. In June 2015, the FWO found that 123 former sports bar and Hungry Jacks employees at Newcastle Airport were…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on August 12, 2015 at 12:30 — No Comments

Workers' compensation claims – What employers can do to assist insurers

Employers often express their concern about being excluded and not involved in the decision making process when it comes to workers compensation claims that they consider to be ‘highly questionable’.

All Australian workers compensation legislation provides strict timeframes for insurers in relation to disputing or accepting liability for a workers compensation claim.

So, where there are concerns about whether a claim is genuine it is important that employers assist their…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on August 10, 2015 at 11:00 — No Comments

“Boo” or “Boo-Urns” – Australia’s racial discrimination laws – does intention matter?

There was much conversation last week regarding the certain sections of AFL crowds booing and jeering former Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes. As most people know Adam is a Sydney Swans AFL player, a proud indigenous man and a prominent advocate on behalf of the Australian indigenous community.

The behaviour has certainly opened up significant debate about whether such behaviour is bullying fuelled by racism or if fans were heckling the player for other reasons, such as his…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on August 3, 2015 at 13:02 — No Comments

What to do about employees charged with criminal offences

Employers are often faced with the challenging task of how to approach the situation where an employee falls foul of the law as a result of conduct in their personal life.

Consider the following recent examples involving professional footballers:

In February this year, a former rugby league, Australian rules and now rugby union player was charged with the use and supply of cocaine. The player was immediately stood down from his club, the Queensland Reds, and after entering a…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on July 28, 2015 at 16:18 — No Comments

[No] ticket to drive – a lesson for employers

In the recent case of Mr Christopher K v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd [2015] FWC 3967 the Fair Work Commission confirmed that there will be a valid reason for the termination of an employee’s employment where they are unable to perform the inherent requirements of their position.

In this matter, Mr K was employed as a full-time truck driver for Linfox at its Newcastle site. Earlier this year, whilst driving his own vehicle, Mr K was charged…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on July 22, 2015 at 19:28 — No Comments

Inherent Requirements and Psychological Conditions

As our readers are aware, we have previously blogged about including psychological testing as part of a pre-employment medical.  Building on that theme we now comment on a recent FWC decision involving an employer’s ability to have existing employees undergo a psychological medical examination.

In January 2014, Mr Z raised concerns about the behaviour of his…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on July 20, 2015 at 13:18 — No Comments

FWC recognises importance of confidentiality in employer investigations

Sharon Bowker; Annette Coombe; Stephen Zwarts v DP World Melbourne Limited t/a DP World; Maritime Union of Australia, The Victorian Branch and Others [2015] FWC 4542

Three DP World employees previously applied to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for stop bullying orders against their DP World colleagues who were also members of the Maritime Union of Australia.

The substantive proceedings were put on hold until FWC heard DP…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on July 13, 2015 at 17:04 — No Comments

Uber drivers...contractors or employees?

California (USA) Labor Commission Rules Uber Driver is an Employee.

In California, a Commissioner has said that an Uber driver who connects with his customers through the Uber app must be considered to be an employee.  This means that Uber drivers are now eligible for reimbursements for expenses and for the minimum wage.

Uber is a service where drivers can pick up…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on July 6, 2015 at 13:04 — No Comments

Employee witness support for employer’s actions essential in FWC

The widely reported decision of Commissioner Stanton in William F v Mt Arthur Coal Pty Ltd [2015] FWC 2343 highlights the importance of witnesses participating in the FWC’s hearing processes.

Employees raising concerns about workplace issues or incidents must not only be willing to complain, but also to then support the employer who acts in relation to that complaint once the matter comes to trial.  Employers too, must also create an environment that is…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on June 22, 2015 at 18:37 — No Comments

The Importance of WHS Training During Employee Induction

The implementation and delivery of a work health and safety (WHS) induction program is an important part of the development of a positive workplace health safety and culture for an organisation.

While induction programs are a way for employers to introduce new employees to their organisation, a WHS induction program is an equally essential step in the new…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on June 15, 2015 at 10:57 — No Comments

A Cautionary Tale About Employees & Twitter

In April 2015 Mr Scott McIntyre, a SBS reporter and presenter, made headlines for posting a series of tweets about ANZAC day that were considered by many to be highly inappropriate and disrespectful. 

It is important to note that Mr McIntyre’s twitter profile stated that he was an SBS presenter permitting the assumption that his tweets were approved/endorsed/encouraged by his employer (SBS) and not just his personal opinion.

As a result of those tweets, Mr McIntyre was sacked…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on June 9, 2015 at 15:30 — No Comments

The Value of Pre-Employment Medical Examinations

Organisations have obligations to ensure the health and safety of their employees.  One way for organisations to manage the risks is by making use of pre-employment medicals (PEMs). 

For an organisation to utilise PEMs effectively it is important they understand:

  • The purpose for the assessment – why do you need to perform the PEM?

  • What is to be achieved from the PEM?

  • Is the…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on June 4, 2015 at 9:00 — No Comments

Did you just double dip? Budget impacts on the paid parental leave scheme

As part of the Government’s 2015 – 2016 budget, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced that the Government plans to end the “double dipping” by some working parents who may have had an entitlement to receive both their employer funded and the government funded paid parental leave schemes. 

At present, primary carers can access 18 weeks of pay at the minimum wage (currently, $640.90/week), as well as payments provided by their…

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Added by Shane Koelmeyer on May 22, 2015 at 12:00 — No Comments

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