Employment and Labor Law

Authors: Emily Haar, Senior Associate & Professor Andrew Stewart, Consultant

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently commenced proceedings against food delivery application “Foodora” in the Federal Court of Australia alleging that the “gig-economy” platform has engaged in sham contracting. Emily Haar, Senior Associate, and Professor Andrew Stewart, Consultant, consider the implications such a finding could have.

Read more: Food delivery service “gig economy” operators under the industrial spotlight

Author: Ben Motro, Special Counsel

The recent decision of the Fair Work Commission in Blagojevic v AGL Macquarie Pty Ltd; Mitchell Seears [2018] FWC 2906 has shed further light on what constitutes “reasonable management action” in the context of performance management under section 789FD of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

Read more: Do Performance Improvement Plans constitute ‘Reasonable Management Action’?

Author: Tim Lange, Partner

Whistle-blower protection laws applying to internal (and some external) disclosures are on the cards. The amendments will bring a new and aggressive protection regime into the Corporations Act 2001, replacing the relatively limited scheme that currently exists. Unlike the current scheme, which has not had a significant impact, the new scheme will significantly alter the landscape in favour of claimants arguing that they have been victimised or exposed as a result of having made a legitimate disclosure of misconduct or breaches of the law. The amendments are contained in a bill currently before the Australian parliament and expected to be passed with bipartisan support, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017.

Read more: Incoming private-sector whistleblower protection laws – Preparing for the new rules

The San Antonio City Council recently approved a new city ordinance that requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work at least 80 hours within the City of San Antonio per year. Employers with more than 15 employees must allow employees to earn up to one hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours worked, up to a cap of 64 hours of paid sick leave per year; employers with 15 or fewer employees must allow employees to similarly accrue paid sick leave up to a cap of 48 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employees who terminate employment but return to the employer within six months are entitled to any earned sick leave that was available to them as of their termination date.

Read more: San Antonio Passes Ordinance Requiring Paid Sick Leave

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Contracts of employment are binding on both parties but, if changes need to be made by the employer, what is the best way to do this? Usually the first step is to seek employees' agreement. If no agreement can be reached, the employer can attempt to impose changes unilaterally (risking constructive dismissal and breach of contract claims) or dismiss employees and offer them re-engagement on new terms and conditions (risking unfair dismissal claims). If an employer chooses to impose changes unilaterally, it is not always clear when an employee can be taken to have agreed.

Read more: When can there be a deemed acceptance of changes to terms and conditions of employment contracts?