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eWISE October 2018                                     
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eWise - October 2018


What's New

Mental Health Week 2018 was held 7-13 October 2018. This is an annual, national event that aims to improve community awareness and interest in mental health and wellbeing. World Mental Health Day is marked every year on 10th October. 

Mental health and wellbeing at work is increasingly recognised as an important part of an organisation's health and safety responsibilities. The theme for 2018 was 'Mental Health starts where we live, learn, work and play'. 

As such, WISE has been putting together a series of articles examining the impact of mental health issues in the workplace, how to take appropriate steps to support staff suffering these conditions, and how you can promote mental wellness in your organisation.  These articles have been released weekly, and we will shortly collate them into easy reference whitepaper - look out for this in the coming newsletters!   

In the News

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against a restaurant operation in South Perth. The legal action relates to a waitress aged in her late 20s who started work at the restaurant on a casual basis in February 2016. After informing management in April 2017 she was pregnant, a number of her shifts were cancelled, and when visibly pregnant was told to go home because she "looks disgusting". 

Under the Fair Work Act, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the grounds of pregnancy, race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, martial status, carer responsibilities, religion, political opinion, nationality or social origin. 

The restaurant group faces penalties of up to $63,000 for each contravention, and the manager faces penalties of up to $12,600 for each contravention.  

Any employees with concerns about workplace discrimination should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman. 

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The Fair Work Commission published it's annual report for the 2017-2018 financial year on 17 October 2018, following its tabling in the Australian Parliament. 

It was noted that the Ombudsman had won more than $7.2 million in court-ordered penalties in the latest financial year - a 49% increase from the previous year. 

Last September (2017), the Ombudsman gained greater investigatory powers and access to higher penalties. The litigation during the year broke new ground on a number of fronts; 

- The FWO's first racial discrimination case, which involved two workers who were paid less and required to work longer hours by the former operators of a Tasmanian hotel. 
- Using accessorial liability laws against an accounting firm over underpayment of two workers, and in a seperate case to hold a HR manager of a business to account. 
- The first legal action involving Paid Parental Leave, where an employer failed to transfer government PPL funds on to a worker. During the investigation, a company director provided an FWO inspector with a false document, that claimed the PPL had already been paid. The penalties totalled $120,000. 
- A record total penalties of $660,020 regarding significant underpayments and exploitation of migrant workers was ordered. The previous record for penalties secured by the FWO was $532,910, awarded in February. 

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The Fair Work Commission has ordered an employer to produce a workplace investigation report, rejecting arguments it was protected by legal professional privilege. 

In a hearing a employee's stop-bullying application against her employer and three colleagues, the Commissioner said it might be appropriate to see the report after an investigation was conducted by a law firm into the employee's complaints. 

The employer objected to producing the report, claiming it was protected by legal professional privilege, but Commissioner Wilson said it was unlikely the dominant purpose of the investigation report was to obtain legal advice. 

The fact the employer hadn't provided any evidence as to what legal advice it was seeking as part of the investigation, as well as the fact the employee hadn't made a stop-bullying application until well after the investigation had been completed,  'leads to the conclusion that the dominant purpose of the investigation was not to obtain legal advice or legal services in relation to a proceeding'. 

The Commissioner ordered the employer to produce an unredacted version of the report, and make submissions relating to any parts it wanted redacted. 

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If you are interested in reading our blogs regularly they are released weekly on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social media pages - simple search for WISE Workplace on your chosen social media platform. 


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Mental Health in the Workplace

By Vince Scopelliti

Making sure that your staff are fit and health, enabling them to perform their duties at an optimal level, forms an essential part of being an employer of choice. But beyond ensuring that your staff are physically capable, it is essential to also look after their mental wellbeing.

Read the full article

 
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Is Briginshaw Still the Best Way of Solving the Puzzle?

By Vince Scopelliti

As any HR manager will testify, conducting workplace investigations is one of the most important but vexed aspects of ensuring that an organisation runs smoothly.

This is particularly the case when the various parties involved in an investigation are putting forward different versions of events.  

Read the full article

 
   
 
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Preventing the Sexual Abuse of Adults with a Disability

By Vince Scopelliti

Sexual abuse of people with a disability is a crime that unfortunately is often misunderstood, undetected and ultimately overlook by organisations. Individuals with a disability are often uniquely vulnerable to sexual and other forms of abuse and deserve both strong protection and swift action in relation to any such allegations. 

Read the full article

 
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How to Write a Robust Workplace Investigation Report

By Vince Scopelliti

At the conclusion of a workplace investigation, the investigator has the challenging task of pulling together all relevant material into a cohesive report. The style of report that is chosen will be firmly linked to the purpose of the investigation, keeping in mind the requirements of the readers and users of the document.

Read the full article

 
 
     
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What's On

 
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Conducting Workplace Investigations - Advanced

Location: Melbourne - FULL
Date: 14-16 November 2018

For more information on Conducting Workplace Investigations


Keep an eye out - 2019 training dates to be released soon!

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Visit wiseworkplace.com.au

 
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