Latest News in Workplace Law
Timetable for award wage increases
The 2022 national minimum wage increase recently handed down has, for many industries, increased minimum award wages from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2022. For a second stage or tranche of awards, those increases will apply from 1 October 2022. The second, delayed stage will impact the aviation, hospitality, and tourism industries, with the affected Awards including:
- Aircraft Cabin Crew Award;
- Airline Operations – Ground Staff Award;
- Air Pilots Award;
- Airport Employees Award; and
- Airservices Australia Enterprise Award 2016.
- Hospitality Industry (General) Award;
- Registered and Licensed Clubs Award; and
- Restaurant Industry Award.
- Marine Tourism and Charter Vessels Award; and
- Alpine Resorts Award
As we mentioned in a past fortnightly newsletter, these are substantial changes impacting employers. Employers are urged to reach out to seek specific advice.
$2.8M general protections payout for ‘destroyed’ manager
In what is likely to be among the biggest compensation payments for a general protections claim, an employer has been order to pay $2.8 million to a long-serving manager who had her life ‘effectively destroyed’ by a new chief executive. The Federal Court ordered the Hawkesbury Race Club to provide $1,770,510 in compensation, including $214,250 for pain and suffering, $1,169,048 for past economic loss, $78,980 in interest and future economic loss of $869,745, plus penalties and costs. $561,513 was deducted for workers’ compensation payments already made to the manager.
Given there is no cap on the monetary amount that can be awarded against parties in general protections claims, employers should tread cautiously where the risk of such a claim exists.
Order by Justice Rares – Leggett v Hawkesbury Race Club Limited (No 4)  FCA 622
Uber driver’s contract held not a sham contract, despite finding of unfairness due to bargaining imbalance
A former Uber driver’s unfair dismissal claim has been unsuccessful despite his claims that his service contract was a sham and that Uber exercised a right of control over him such that he was really an employee.
Following the High Court rulings in cases Jamsek and Personnel Contracting from February this year, Commissioner Hampton said the characterisation of the relationship is to be ‘determined by reference only to the parties’ legal rights and obligations’. Setting out the principles which now apply, he said where a comprehensive written contract is in place, ‘this will be the primary source of the parties’ legal rights and obligations, and these will be decisive of the characterisation of the relationship’. He accepted the services agreement was a ‘comprehensive written contract regulating the arrangements’, and did not consider it to be a sham, legally ineffective or varied after it was made. On this basis the driver’s contracting relationship was upheld and his claim of employment was unsuccessful. However, the Commissioner did observe there was an imbalance in the parties’ bargaining power, leading to elements of the contract (including about fees and discretions to make changes), meant that the contract potentially operated unfairly.
With the ALP Government making gig worker reform part of its industrial relations legislative agenda, academics say that this case strengthens calls for the government to move quickly to boost gig workers’ rights.
Deadline for $450 per month superannuation threshold ended 1 July 2022
As the $450 per month superannuation threshold deadline has now officially passed, and the increase to contribution rates of 10.5%, employers are reminded to review their superannuation obligations. From 1 July 2022, employers will need to pay super guarantee contributions to all eligible workers over 18 years old, regardless of how much they earn. These changes, together with other changes to superanunation obligations, aim to expand coverage of the super guarantee to eligible employees earning wages less than $450 per month, including employees who work multiple part-time and casual jobs.