Charging for unpaid internships?

There have been stories in the media recently about employers charging students and graduates for the privilege of participating in an unpaid internship.  Setting aside whether an internship is a necessary step to build a career or exploitation of a vulnerable group, employers engaging interns should take note. The law around offering work experience and internships is clear and the penalties for getting it wrong can be significant. 

Too busy to keep employee records?

Two massage parlour companies and their sole director have been fined $43,200 for failing to keep employee records.  Demonstrating a refreshingly honest approach, the director said that he “did not do the records and other things properly, because I am too busy and lazy” and “I do not want to provide fake infor (sic). If I am not honest, I will have more trouble”. The Tribunal member hearing the matter said that the failure to keep records and issue pay slips was a serious matter and noted that the failure hindered the ability of the Fair Work Ombudsman to identify employee underpayments.

Employee wins right to convert from casual to permanent full-time employment

On 12 October 2017, the Federal Court delivered a judgment in a case brought by a freight handler, Mr Tomvald seeking to enforce a right to convert his casual employment to permanent full-time employment with his employer Toll Transport* (Toll). He relied on a casual conversion clause in Toll’s enterprise agreement (EA). The EA also incorporated the casual conversion clause in the relevant Modern Award, the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 (Award), but the EA applied in the event of any inconsistency.

Top tips to keep your business a sexual harassment free zone

Following the recent claims made against Harvey Weinstein, thousands of women have spoken up about their experience of workplace sexual harassment using the hashtag #metoo. We might like to imagine that sexual harassment is not happening in workplaces across Australia, but women are clearly telling us otherwise. Below are our top tips to prevent sexual harassment in your business.

GPS tracking in company vehicles

Recently, TSheets, a provider of GPS mobile tracking apps, shared their research into the use of GPS tracking by employers with us. Their survey findings included that:

  • 43% of workers were given less than 14 days' notice before GPS tracking was introduced;
  • 39% of workers were given notice verbally; and
  • One in five vehicles with GPS units did not display a sign informing the driver that GPS tracking was occurring.

This research is a timely reminder for NSW employers to ensure they comply with the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005, including with respect to GPS tracking.

New right for casual employees to request to convert to permanent employment

The Fair Work Commission has released a draft model casual conversion clause as part of its four yearly modern award review process. The draft clause is to be included in 85 modern awards that do not currently include casual conversion clauses and if approved in its current form, will allow regular casual employees to request that their employment be converted to part time or full time employment. 

Key features of the draft clause include:

Employee record obligations – are you compliant?

In a timely reminder to employers about record keeping obligations, the Federal Court has penalised two employers and their director over $37,000 for failing to keep proper employee records. In that case, Justice Barker said:

the contraventions in this case should not be seen as mere contraventions of some lower order. The failure to maintain records truly strikes at the very foundation of the regulatory scheme which is designed to ensure that employees are paid their legal entitlements[1].

The Fair Work Act requires that employers keep certain employment related records.  These records must be kept for seven years and must be in English, legible and readily available to an inspector.