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  • HR Heartbeat: More wage increases, a very expensive deadline, and...

HR Heartbeat: More wage increases, a very expensive deadline, and...

This week’s HR Heartbeat is full of cases that serve as a warning for employers everywhere. From an unfair dismissal case that was destined for the grave to a missed deadline.

First published on Monday, Aug 21, 2023

Last updated on Friday, Aug 18, 2023

5 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Everything you need to know about the latest trends impacting employers all over Australia. Keep up to date with the HR Heartbeat.

Let’s get into the headlines.

More wages? Maybe

On the 30th of June 2023, only direct care staff in the aged care industry received a 15% pay rise from the Work Value Case. Indirect care staff members, on the other hand, did not receive the rise.

This has created discontent across the industry, leaving employers to deal with the fallout.

Frustration mounts when you remember that back when submissions were made to the FWC, the CEO of Garden Village Port Macquarie argued for the inequity to be addressed.

Now, President Adam Hatcher of the Fair Work Commission has ordered interested parties, including the Health Services Union, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, and the Federal Government to make submissions as to why indirect workers or other industry workers should get a pay rise.

This matter has been listed for a hearing in December 2023, so something tells us that more wage increases may be brewing.

An expensive deadline

In 2016, an employee claimed that her former employer hadn’t paid her entitlements and breached her contract in ways that exposed her to risks of injury to her person and reputation.

The legal battle went on for several years. Finally, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia handed down the judgement that the employer must pay out the employee’s final entitlements as well as general damages. The total figure came up to $160,000 that the employer had to pay within 21 days.

Unfortunately, the employer missed the deadline and only paid the sum 6 months later, which was October 2022.

This left the employer liable for civil damages and the Court ordered an additional penalty of $153,900. A very expensive consequence of a missed deadline.

That’s just one example of how costly it can be to fall on the wrong side of the law. If you’re unsure of how to navigate the complex legal landscape, don’t forget that BrightLightning is available 24/7 to answer all your HR and health & safety questions.

Whose fault is it then?!

As many misadventures often do, this one starts with a few drinks.

But unlike many misadventures, this one was a little more than a funny story among friends. It led to a 6-year legal battle that reached the High Court of Australia.

An employee, living on-site and working at a resort off the coast of Queensland brought a claim against their employer for negligence through vicarious liability.

What was the incident that inspired this case you may ask? It goes back to 2016. When two employees, including the instigator of the claim, visited the staff bar after a shift. One employee called it a night and returned to their shared accommodation, only to wake up a few hours later to his roommate using his room as the bathroom. The employee suffered medical issues as a result of the incident.

If you’re wondering if the employer is liable for this incident, the Court determined that the employer was not viciously liable because the act occurred while the employees were not on the clock.

This was a near miss though, because the incident did occur at staff accommodation. So, there was a chance that the employer would be held responsible for the incident that occurs at the premises. You can find out more about the case, here.

This employer can’t come to court right now...

Why? Because they passed away.

When a sole trader passed away, you’d think that they wouldn’t need to worry about employment relations anymore. But in this case, an employee terminated after their employer’s death went ahead and lodged an unfair dismissal claim.

The application was filed on the 16th of May 2023, and the Fair Work Commission only found out about the employer’s death on the 15th of June. The determined employee, however, was unshaken by the Commission telling them that deceased employers couldn’t receive orders against them.

Thankfully, after the Commission gave the employee time to get more legal advice and decide what they wanted to do, the Commission never got a response. So, the application was ultimately dismissed.

That wraps up this edition of HR Heartbeat. Stay tuned for more headlines and all the latest updates that will keep you in the know with all the major employment changes coming your way.

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