April 2011 – Update

John F Law & Associates combines with Industrial Relations Law

John F Law & Associates has combined with Industrial Relations Law Pty Ltd to offer a full range of Industrial Relations and Human Resources services to clients. Nicole Hart, Director of Industrial Relations Law has in excess of 12 years experience providing all levels of management with both industrial relations and human resources solutions to their employment challenges.

Paid Parental Leave: Is your business ready?

From 1 January 2011, the Federal government has introduced a paid parental leave scheme for working parents. The scheme provides 18 weeks pay at the National Minimum Wage to an eligible parent upon the birth or adoption of a child. Whilst this scheme is funded by the government, it will be administered by employers from 1 July 2011.

In summary, employers will need to register with Centrelink Business Online Services and when an employee is eligible to receive payments, Centrelink will notify the employer of the employee’s eligibility. The employer will then receive funds from Centrelink that will need to be forwarded to the employee in their usual pay cycle.

The employer is obligated to withhold taxation from the payment and provide a payslip however they will not incur superannuation payments, payroll tax, workers compensation or any other employee expense.

It is important to note that this benefit is in addition to any other entitlement arising out of the employment contract, such as employer-funded paid parental leave, annual leave or long service leave.

Social Media: It’s not always social

There are an increasing number of cases arising where employers have terminated the employment relationship for the actions of an employee on social networking sites and there are important lessons for employers.

In the decision of Fitzgerald v Escape Hair Design the employer was ordered to pay $2340 in damages after terminating an employee for comments posted on Facebook outside of working hours. Whilst Ms Fitzgerald did not name her employer in the post, she conceded that five to ten ‘friends’ were salon clients. On this basis, Commissioner Bissett found that the post would not adversely affect the industry or the specific salon.

However, in the decision of Dekort v Johns River Tavern Pty Limited Fair Work Australia dismissed Dekort’s application after he failed to make an adequate case. Mr Dekort called in sick for work on 30 and 31 December 2009 and whilst he produced a medical certificate dated 4 January 2010, the employer terminated his employment after a photograph was posted on Facebook of him attending a New Years Eve party on 31 December 2009.

The lesson for employers is to ensure there is a strong connection between the employee’s social media activities and the employment relationship. Employers may also want to consider having a policy that addresses social media issues or include this provision into the employment contract.

Contact Nicole or John at Industrial Relations Law for more information on these or any other employment matters.