Employment & Benefits, Australia updates

Exposure Draft of Model OHS Act Released for Public Comment
  • Australia
  • 14 October 2009

Safe Work Australia has released the exposure draft of the model occupational health and safety legislation for public comment. This update provides an overview of some of the key proposals in the model act, including provisions on the primary duty of care, incident notification, the regulator's enforcement and information-gathering powers, and offences and penalties.

Model OHS Laws - One Step Closer to Becoming a Reality
  • Australia
  • 17 June 2009

The Workplace Relations Ministers Council has agreed to a framework for model occupational health and safety (OHS) laws and has given instructions for the drafting of model OHS laws to commence. During a recent meeting the council provided its response to the recommendations of the Panel for the National Review into Model OHS Laws regarding the optimal structure and content of a model OHS act.

Workplace Relations Transitional Bill Introduced
  • Australia
  • 15 April 2009

The Fair Work Bill has passed through the Senate after an agreement was reached with Senator Steven Fielding on phasing in its definition of a 'small business' for the purpose of excluding unfair dismissal claims. The agreement means that the government can implement its timetable of amendments to unfair dismissal and enterprise bargaining laws from July 1 2009.

Harmonization of Occupational Health and Safety Laws - Second Report
  • Australia
  • 08 April 2009

The National Review Panel into Model Occupational Health and Safety Laws has delivered its second report. This update provides a preliminary summary of the key recommendations in the report, including recommendations regarding definitions of certain terms, the roles of inspectors and codes of practice.

Model Occupational Health and Safety Laws: Submissions to the National Review
  • Australia
  • 29 October 2008

The closing date for submissions to the national review into model occupational, health and safety legislation was July 11 2008. The panel received over 240 submissions from various parties, including public and private sector organizations, government, industry groups and the unions. This update outlines some of the key points arising from the submissions.

Public to Have Say on Model Occupational Health and Safety Laws
  • Australia
  • 06 August 2008

The panel established to review national occupational health and safety laws and possible harmonization recently released an issues paper to stimulate discussion and encourage written submissions to the review. The issues paper was developed following a six-week consultation period across the country with key stakeholders, including businesses, unions and other interested parties.

Inspectorates Adopt Global Code of Integrity
  • Australia
  • 28 May 2008

During a recent International Association of Labour Inspection conference, Australian inspectorates supported a draft global Code of Integrity for Labour Inspection. Adoption of the code will raise awareness of the high standards required of labour inspectors worldwide and provide employers and employees with assurance of fair, impartial and professional dealings.

Harmonization of Occupational Health and Safety Laws
  • Australia
  • 21 May 2008

A three-person advisory panel has been appointed to review Australia's occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation in all jurisdictions and to recommend to the Workplace Relations Ministers Council the optimal structure and content of a model OHS act.

Court Confirms A$1.9 Million Pay-Out to Bullied Employee
  • Australia
  • 12 March 2008

The New South Wales Court of Appeal recently confirmed significant damages against Nationwide News Pty Ltd for alleged bullying and harassment. The plaintiff claimed that he suffered from a psychiatric injury caused by humiliating and harassing treatment to which he was subjected by his supervisor, a Nationwide employee.

Stand by Your CSP
  • Australia
  • 05 December 2007

The decision of an employer to dismiss a crane operator for his failure to follow a critical safety procedure has been upheld by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. For practical reasons, this decision is important because it considers when the termination of an employee is warranted to protect the health and safety of other employees.

Workplace Policy Fails to Prevent Employer Liability
  • Australia
  • 17 August 2005

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found that an employer failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent sexual harassment, despite having developed a sexual harassment policy for the workplace. The tribunal's decision is a reminder that an employer cannot rely solely on a written policy as a means of avoiding liability for the acts of its employees.

Indemnity Costs in Unfair Dismissal Jurisdiction
  • Australia
  • 20 July 2005

It is rare for the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to make a costs order - yet alone an indemnity costs order - against an applicant in an unfair dismissal matter. However, a recent commission decision shows that those who plainly and deliberately disregard tribunal processes, resulting in costs and inconvenience to the other party and the tribunal, can be subjected to punitive costs orders.

Prime Minister Announces Workplace Reforms
  • Australia
  • 06 July 2005

Prime Minister John Howard has announced a number of important workplace reforms. Howard invited state governments to refer their workplace relations powers to the federal government; if they do not do so, the federal government will attempt to legislate for a national system of workplace relations.

State Governments Enact New Occupational Health and Safety Laws
  • Australia
  • 29 June 2005

A new law introducing an offence where there is a death in the workplace has come into force in New South Wales. The bill passed rapidly through Parliament and will impact on directors and officers. Victoria has also recently implemented significant occupational health and safety changes.

New South Wales Proposes New Offence for Workplace Fatalities
  • Australia
  • 22 June 2005

The government of New South Wales has released a revised bill that will amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (NSW). Now at consultation draft stage, it addresses many of the problems in the previous proposal, which was withdrawn in April following sustained criticism.

Queensland Reforms State Legislation on Industrial Relations
  • Australia
  • 15 June 2005

The Queensland government has taken the opportunity to make further reforms to its Industrial Relations Act 1999 and to address some longstanding anomalies. Among other issues, the reforms tackle the problem of quantifying paid leave remuneration for those employees paid on a commission basis.

High Court Denies Psychiatric Illness Claim
  • Australia
  • 25 May 2005

The High Court has rejected an employee's claim for damages after she developed a psychiatric illness. The court held that the employer could not have foreseen the risk as the employee had not complained about psychiatric illness and the condition was not made obvious by visible distress or absence from work.

NSW Rejects Harsher Penalties for Workplace Fatalities
  • Australia
  • 04 May 2005

The New South Wales government has announced that the long-awaited amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000, which would have doubled the penalties for workplace fatalities and imposed a jail sentence for first offences by directors and managers, will not be introduced to Parliament.

Implied Redundancy Terms Come Back to Life
  • Australia
  • 27 April 2005

The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission has revisited the issue of implied terms about redundancy and upheld a claim for severance pay made by a retrenched employee. However, doubts have been raised over the commission's approach to the business efficacy test.

High Court Rules on Redundancy Payments as a Result of Demerger
  • Australia
  • 27 April 2005

In December 2003 Amcor Limited was granted special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia from the Federal Court's decision entitling employees to redundancy payments as the result of a demerger. The High Court unanimously upheld Amcor's appeal and found that none of the employees' positions became redundant on the demerger.

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