Workplace Law & Strategy

Insights. Advice. New Thinking.

On 12 December 2013 Seyfarth Shaw announced our Australian offices were officially open for business. Today marks five years since those doors opened. What better way to reflect than to ask ourselves, what have been the biggest changes in our specialist areas of law over those five years? “It has become increasingly difficult to make enterprise agreements that are compliant, genuinely enterprise-focused and fit for purpose due to increasing modern award complexity combined with the…
After several years of reports and recommendations, the Australian Parliament has passed the Modern Slavery Act 2018—carrying an imperative for businesses in Australia to take action on their modern slavery risks and responsibilities. Updates to the legislation The Modern Slavery Bill generated impassioned debate in both the House and Senate, passing with bipartisan support and several amendments to the legislation: Explanations for failure to comply: If the Minister is reasonably satisfied that an entity has…
This week’s data released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows some modest improvements in workplace gender equality in the entities required to report to WGEA (those with 100 or more employees). There was an ever so slight increase in the proportion of women in senior management roles. And I guess the “biggest single-year drop” of 1% in the gender pay gap is something to celebrate (at least it didn’t go up!) notwithstanding that…
It’s no secret that Australians love their annual leave. In recent years, many companies have chosen to go above and beyond minimum standards by offering extra leave – reflecting the view that rested employees are generally happier and more productive at work. Some companies even let employees decide how much leave to take. For example in 2014, Virgin Group unveiled an ‘unlimited’ annual leave policy. Our 2014 blog observed that “time would tell” if the…
An enforceable restraint of trade can be a key business asset. Some might think about it as an insurance policy. The capacity to preserve customer connections, protect confidential information and discourage key executives from setting up their own business or moving to a competitor can be critical to information rich businesses operating in a competitive market. This is the case now more than ever given that the Supreme Court of Victoria’s decision in Just Group
Modern slavery legislation at the Commonwealth level in Australia is getting closer. The Modern Slavery Bill 2018 (Cth) passed the Lower House last week. The Opposition pushed for several amendments to the legislative framework including establishing an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to oversee implementation and enforcement of the legislation, the introduction of penalties on companies for non-compliance with their reporting obligations, and an obligation on the Minister to report annually on compliance by reporting entities. While…
A Senate Select Committee report on the Future of Work and Workers handed down this week after a year-long inquiry, gives some insight (which is likely to be startling to most employers) into the likely Labor legislative agenda in the workplace relations space if there is a change of government at the next election. The employment and IR related recommendations from the Committee’s majority (dominated by Labor, Greens and Independents) include the following that have…
Over 40 million people around the world are trapped in conditions of modern slavery, according to research from the Walk Free Foundation and the International Labour Organization. The fight against modern slavery is fragmented. Governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and law enforcement agencies are engaged in their own fights at various levels (local, regional, national, global) with little collaboration. In increasingly globalised markets, there is growing regulatory and consumer pressure on businesses to eliminate the exploitative…
Traditionally, alternative labour models – including outsourcing and contracting – have been used by business to defray cost and risk and deal with workflow fluctuations. Today’s environment is creating new challenges for organising and engaging alternative labour. Here’s 5 key reasons why: Increased accountability for those at the ‘top’ Changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 in 2017 introduced new vulnerable workers laws under which certain corporate group holding companies and franchisor businesses can be…
Allegations of sexual harassment have dominated headlines, most visibly with the #MeToo campaign. Sexual harassment complaints, and the laws that attempt to curb the behaviours, are not new. Despite regulation, sexual harassment is still occurring in workplaces. Why? One answer may be that organisations guard against sexual harassment through policy and lecture style training without reference to the broader workplace context. To counter this, an alternate approach may be to use existing risk management frameworks,…