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HR Perspective (Australia) | 2020 in Review: The Year That Was, Wasn't, and Felt Like It Was Never Ending

Date: November 2020
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This program covers the following topics in Australian labor and employment law:


  • Covers the changes to the legislation that govern whistleblowing in Australia
  • Covering the changes seen in practice since new laws were enacted including confidentiality and anonymity, protection from detriment, and other protections

Industrial manslaughter

  • Cutting through the media hype and outlining the facts around industrial manslaughter
  • Providing an overview of the jurisdictional industrial manslaughter laws
  • Victoria being the latest state to bring their laws online, there was an overview of the underlying duties, in greater detail
  • Tests for industrial manslaughter vary between Australian states, so the basic and consistent criteria is analysed

Wage theft

  • New "wage theft law" have been introduced in Victoria and Queensland
  • Media have been reflecting the large number of employers self reporting underpayments
  • With an active regulator, there have been increased FWO funding and a new Compliance and Enforcement Policy
  • While the utility as a legislative vehicle is still being explored, underpayments is an important area of focus for Australian employers
  • Dishonesty is the concept on which these new laws are built, and Victoria has added recklessness
  • With the FWO as the active regulator, it is important to be proactive, and a process for this is covered


  • The decisions in the Broadlex Services Ltd v United Workers Union [2020] FCA 867 and Berkeley Challenge Pty Ltd v United Voice [2020] FCAFC 113 cases are discussed, because of their surprising decisions
  • Delivery lessons where a reduction in hours may amount to repudiation of the contract and the risks of relying on the continuity of contracts to maintain their workforce

Sexual harassment

  • Issues where covered relating to the:
    • Respect @ Work Report 2020
    • High Court of Australia and the serious findings
    • COVID-19 and the working from home environment and its impact on sexual harassment
    • How #metoo has continued to see the media cover high profile workplace sexual harassment cases
  • How you can create a culture of change

Remote working

  • Given that no one expected to be working from home for such a prolonged period a number of issues are appearing
  • Safety is a focus, with WHS laws continuing to apply when an employee is working from home
  • Workplace entitlements, including NES and award conditions and how they continue to apply
  • Flexibility versus productivity

2021 what's in store

  • Considering casual employment, modern awards, enterprise bargaining, work/life balance, workforce restructuring and returning to the office
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