Month in Review - September 2020

In the News

The Australian Government  passed an extension to the JobKeeper scheme to March 2021. The extension will see the JobKeeper amount being reduced and introduce a two-tier payment.

Polytrade, a Victorian kerbside recycling company, has  paid more than 30 employees about $1million in back-pay. The majority of workers being refugees and migrants.

The ACTU has backed the Victoria's Health and Community Services Union's  claim for five days leave per year and other flexibility for reproductive health issues.

Australia's unemployment rate  fell from 7.5% to 6.8%. However, employees in Victoria are still feeling the effects of the stage 3 restrictions and Melbourne lockdown.

Soma Kitchen, a popular Fremantle restaurant, and its director, Giancarlo Daniele, have been  fined almost $22,000 for underpayments. An employee alleged that they had been paid $200 for 146 hours of work.

In the Courts

The Fair Work Commission (the FWC) has  held that a pilot's redundancy was not genuine due to a lack of consultation as required by the Air Pilots Award 2010. The pilot was awarded one week's wages being the period in which consultation would have occurred. It is believed the pilot had spent more than $13,500 in legal fees.

The Federal Court of Australia has  handed down a penalty decision with fines totalling $60,000, close to the maximum awardable. The fines were awarded against Melbourne Precast Concrete Nominees Pty Ltd and its director. In  July, the Federal Court of Australia held that an employee of Melbourne Precast Concrete Nominees was made redundant because the employee was a safety representative and made complaints to WorkSafe Victoria.

The FWC has again  reinforced the need for dismissals to be communicated face-to-face rather than via email. The FWC has rejected an employer's jurisdictional objection that the employee's unfair dismissal claim was made out of time. The employee provided evidence that they did not receive the emailed termination letter.

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has  held that a DJ was a casual employee instead of an independent contractor. This is because the DJ was trained by his employer and the rostering system had an element of control over workers. However, the DJ's underpayment claim failed as the DJ was not covered by the Live Performance Award 2010.

The Full Bench of the FWC has  overturned the finding that the FWC has the capacity to deal with disputes under an old enterprise agreement after a new enterprise agreement begins. Instead, applicants can make a claim that there has been a contravention of an old enterprise agreement during its operation to a court under section 544 of the Fair Work Act 2009  (Cth).

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