Guides

The definitive guide to employee classification levels

By Calum Woods and Lindsay Carroll One of the most common questions we are asked on the workplace relations hotline is how to correctly classify employees. In most cases, this is a fairly straight forward exercise, and it’s an important skill for business owners to develop. However, like many parts of modern awards, classification levels are not always drafted in the clearest of terms, and seldom do they anticipate every possible situation that may arise. For this reason, it’s essential to both understand what each classification level means and how to determine which one to apply.   What are employee…

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Transgender inclusion in the workplace

By Thomas Parer and Alex Millman, NRA Legal Seven years ago, on 1 August 2013, it became unlawful across all of Australia to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. This change was the result of decades of work from activists in the LGBTIQ+ community and their allies to positively shift society’s attitudes towards the LGBTIQ+ community. In particular, it was a major step for the transgender (trans) community, who have long been stigmatised, oppressed, and ostracised from mainstream society. As societal views and attitudes continue to change for…

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Important ‘stand down’ information for Victorian employers

From midnight on Wednesday, 5 August 2020, Victoria will enter Stage 4 restrictions and all non-essential retailers located in the Melbourne metropolitan area will be restricted to contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services. The restrictions will last for at least the next 6 weeks, and as such it is important for retailers to understand the options available to manage their staff over this period. In preparation for midnight on Wednesday, 5 August 2020, you may need to consider standing down your workers. During this time, it is important to continue to manage your legal and compliance obligations. There are…

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JobKeeper extended to March 2021, but important changes are on the way

By Alex Millman, NRA Legal Today, the Prime Minister announced that the JobKeeper package would be extended from 27 September 2020 until 28 March 2021. This news comes as welcome relief as businesses still struggle with uncertainty, particularly with the situation in Victoria demonstrating how quickly circumstances can change. There will, however, be changes to both the amount of the JobKeeper payments and the businesses that can claim them. Two stages of JobKeeper extension The first important difference is that the extension to the JobKeeper scheme is divided into two three-month periods: 28 September 2020 – 3 January 2021; and 4 January 2021…

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Changes to paid parental leave scheme

On 11 June 2020 the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020 passed both houses of Federal Parliament. The Bill received Royal Assent on 16 June 2020, and its changes will take effect from 1 July 2020. What is changing? Designed to improve women’s workforce participation, the Bill changes the paid parental leave (PPL) period from a single fixed 18-week period to a fixed 12-week period and a flexible 6-week (30 day) period. The fixed 12-week period will, as under the current scheme, be required to be taken from the commencement of the parental leave period. However, should the employee wish,…

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How to safely bring your employees back to the workplace after hibernation

By Thomas Parer and Calum Woods, NRA Legal Due to the speed with which the COVID-19 pandemic spread and required social distancing to ‘flatten the curve’, many companies were forced to either stand down their workforces or organise and implement alternative working arrangements (including work from home arrangements) with little opportunity to reflect on the challenges associated with either course of action, including later returning the workforce to work. And it seems just as quickly, the success of efforts to ‘flatten the curve’ in Australia mean that some of us will soon be returning back to our workplaces. But it’s…

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Casuals and Jobkeeper: casual absenteeism and disciplinary processes

By Andrew Piper and Lindsay Carroll, NRA Legal   Although reasonably new (and still changing), the JobKeeper program has, so far, had a mixed effect on businesses. Whilst some employers have embraced it wholeheartedly others, especially those with a workforce comprised largely of casual employees usually earning less than $1,500 a fortnight, have been more hesitant to undertake the significant cost increase to meet the requirements of the scheme. In the retail industry in particular, the NRA has been receiving reports of casual employees making themselves unavailable for work for unsupported reasons or indeed no reason at all, secure in the knowledge that…

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The essential guide to redundancy during COVID-19

By Calum Woods and Lindsay Carroll, NRA Legal The unprecedented disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) has left many employers considering their immediate options to reduce expenditure over the coming weeks and months. In most cases, substantial cost-savings may be able to be achieved by consulting with employees about reducing their hours of work by agreement or taking annual leave until the business is able to recover. However, should these avenues prove unsuccessful the only option available to employers to ensure the continuation of their business may be to make positions redundant. Where at least 15 employees are made redundant, employers are also required to…

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Employ staff on a salary? Here’s what you need to know

By Andrew Piper and Calum Woods, NRA Legal It is a common misconception that once an employee is paid a salary, a modern award no longer applies to their employment. Whether a modern award applies to a person mostly depends on the duties they perform, and while their salary can be indicative of their level of responsibility, it is by no means determinative. Some modern awards (for example, the General Retail Industry Award 2010) do not provide any heightened obligations when an employee is paid a salary compared to when they are paid on an hourly basis. Under these awards, the…

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Loaded Rates in Enterprise Agreements: Balancing efficiency against costs

By Thomas Parer and Lindsay Carroll, NRA Legal The Fair Work Commission has recently handed down a significant decision to approve two enterprise agreements for ALDI stores which included ‘loaded rates’, after being the only agreements of five not to be dismissed in last year’s notable ‘Loaded Rates Agreement Case’.[1] Loaded rates in enterprise agreements are one of the more misunderstood features of the Australian industrial relations landscape, however in this article we will attempt to bring some clarity to how employers should handle loaded rates in existing and proposed enterprise agreements. What are loaded rates? Loaded rates are a…

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