AHRI:ASSIST – Workplace relations


Is there any legislation that requires employers to have staff undertake bullying and harassment training during their induction?

There is no legislation that requires this, but you are obliged to maintain a healthy and safe workplace and ensure your employees are adequately trained. Best practice is to include training in the induction process and then do a refresher every 12 months. Host refreshers when there are legislative changes, an increase in instances of bad behaviour and when employees change positions.

Is it possible to restructure the organisation while a position is pending workers compensation? If so, what steps need to be taken?

You can restructure a workplace while an employee is on a period of workers compensation. However, if you are restructuring in a way that is to the employee’s detriment and it is arguably because of their workers compensation claim, then they would have a potential adverse action claim under the Fair Work Act.

Further, if the restructure is going to result in possible termination, you need to be aware of restrictions on termination arising from the relevant state workers compensation legislation. For example, in Victoria an employer must hold open an employee’s job for 12 months from the date the employee is injured or lodges the workers compensation claim.

Under what circumstances would it be permissible to cancel an employee’s annual leave that has previously been approved?

If an employer wanted to retract an agreement to annual leave that had previously been granted, it would constitute a refusal to agree to the annual leave. To make this refusal ‘reasonable’ and therefore permitted by the National Employment Standards, an employer may need to offer to pay for any wasted expenses the employee would incur. Otherwise the refusal could be deemed unreasonable.

Can an employer direct staff to take their accrued long service leave?

Under the Long Service Leave Act (1955), employers must give their employees who are eligible to take long service leave at least one month’s notice of the date from which it is proposed that the worker’s long service leave shall be given and taken. Generally speaking, the employer and employee will agree to a date and period of leave that suits both parties, however, provided the requisite notice period is provided to the employee, an employer could direct them to take the leave.

I’ve inherited the personnel files of a small, growing company with a diverse employee base. I’m uncertain of all employees’ nationality/employment status and I’d like to ask for evidence of their permission to work in Australia. Am I allowed to do this?

Yes, you can require current employees to provide you with evidence of their right to work in Australia. Some employees will be unhappy about being asked to provide this evidence. However, you have an obligation to ensure all employees are working legally.

An employee was approved annual leave as they planned to go overseas and visit a relative. They now wish to claim a portion of that leave as compassionate leave as their relative has become terminally ill.

Given the circumstances, we would view that compassionate leave is reasonable in this situation. Under the Fair Work Act, an employee is entitled to two days’ compassionate leave for each occasion that a member of their immediate family or household passes away or suffers a serious illness or injury. 

To read past AHRI:ASSIST columns click here or visit the AHRI:ASSIST page

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AHRI:ASSIST – Workplace relations


Is there any legislation that requires employers to have staff undertake bullying and harassment training during their induction?

There is no legislation that requires this, but you are obliged to maintain a healthy and safe workplace and ensure your employees are adequately trained. Best practice is to include training in the induction process and then do a refresher every 12 months. Host refreshers when there are legislative changes, an increase in instances of bad behaviour and when employees change positions.

Is it possible to restructure the organisation while a position is pending workers compensation? If so, what steps need to be taken?

You can restructure a workplace while an employee is on a period of workers compensation. However, if you are restructuring in a way that is to the employee’s detriment and it is arguably because of their workers compensation claim, then they would have a potential adverse action claim under the Fair Work Act.

Further, if the restructure is going to result in possible termination, you need to be aware of restrictions on termination arising from the relevant state workers compensation legislation. For example, in Victoria an employer must hold open an employee’s job for 12 months from the date the employee is injured or lodges the workers compensation claim.

Under what circumstances would it be permissible to cancel an employee’s annual leave that has previously been approved?

If an employer wanted to retract an agreement to annual leave that had previously been granted, it would constitute a refusal to agree to the annual leave. To make this refusal ‘reasonable’ and therefore permitted by the National Employment Standards, an employer may need to offer to pay for any wasted expenses the employee would incur. Otherwise the refusal could be deemed unreasonable.

Can an employer direct staff to take their accrued long service leave?

Under the Long Service Leave Act (1955), employers must give their employees who are eligible to take long service leave at least one month’s notice of the date from which it is proposed that the worker’s long service leave shall be given and taken. Generally speaking, the employer and employee will agree to a date and period of leave that suits both parties, however, provided the requisite notice period is provided to the employee, an employer could direct them to take the leave.

I’ve inherited the personnel files of a small, growing company with a diverse employee base. I’m uncertain of all employees’ nationality/employment status and I’d like to ask for evidence of their permission to work in Australia. Am I allowed to do this?

Yes, you can require current employees to provide you with evidence of their right to work in Australia. Some employees will be unhappy about being asked to provide this evidence. However, you have an obligation to ensure all employees are working legally.

An employee was approved annual leave as they planned to go overseas and visit a relative. They now wish to claim a portion of that leave as compassionate leave as their relative has become terminally ill.

Given the circumstances, we would view that compassionate leave is reasonable in this situation. Under the Fair Work Act, an employee is entitled to two days’ compassionate leave for each occasion that a member of their immediate family or household passes away or suffers a serious illness or injury. 

To read past AHRI:ASSIST columns click here or visit the AHRI:ASSIST page

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