Wednesday, 6 June 2012 0 comments

Workplace Law: The Critical Issues

Employees should be familiar with workplace law to remain compliant, protect both employer and employees, to avoid legal problems, fines and possible government action.     

Knowledge of workplace law or employment law helps both parties avoid situations that may be deemed illegal. Situations like these include illegal dismissal or unlawful termination, failure to distribute the pay slip within the required period, asking employees to work without pay, instances that may be seen as forced overtime, to name a few.     

There are also a number of instances that fall under the basic rights of employees in the workplace. So employers should avoid situations that would be interpreted as depriving employees of time off during holidays, not giving the notice of termination in advance, and exceeding the maximum hours in a week that employees can work, among others.   

Issues that fall under union membership rights, on the other hand, include employees having the freedom to join labor unions and to choose if they will participate in strikes or not. Employers, therefore, should not take actions that might be seen as discriminating against employees that joined the labor union or a particular union action.

These are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Employment law covers issues on the actions, rights and responsibilities of the company and its employees, including compensation, benefits, pensions and retirement, employees’ claims for discrimination, standards and safety at the workplace, and unemployment compensation.

Obviously, employment law is a vast and complicated feat that requires expertise, experience and the latest information on the current best practices as well as the prevailing labor laws and other applicable legislation. This task is, as we know, critical. That’s why companies have a team – in house or outsourced – dedicated to handling issues under employment law.

Other issues to manage include disputes and suits that fall under Industrial Relations, particularly union right of entry and good faith bargaining. Also part of handling employment are all the disputes, claims and issues covered by the the Fair Work Act 2009.  

Tasks and issues that are part of the Enterprise Agreement should also be of particular concern. These include preparation of the Enterprise Agreement draft, lodging this particular draft, representing the employer during court or tribunal proceedings, calculating the wages and the like.

Handling discrimination and harassment issues are also among the most critical. As with most, if not all, of these issues, legal advice and representation would be required.  

All issues and processes under hiring and recruitment are also critical. Hiring employees from abroad or handling processes under migration services, onboarding, drafting the contract of employment, preparing the company procedures and policies, employment conditions, and occupational health and safety are just some of the tasks that require skillful navigation.  

Actions and issues involving wage claims – particularly record keeping obligations, reporting and auditing, and legal counsel and representation in cases involving salary claims and related issues under National Employment Standards and applicable industrial instruments – would also benefit from a skillful team of workplace law experts.