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  • HR Heartbeat: NAIDOC Week, superannuation guarantee increase, and...

HR Heartbeat: NAIDOC Week, superannuation guarantee increase, and...

Dive right into this week’s HR Heartbeat for more information on this year’s NAIDOC Week theme, the superannuation increase, and an unfair dismissal claim that ruled in favour of the employer.

First published on Thursday, Jul 06, 2023

Last updated on Thursday, Jul 06, 2023

3 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

What you need to know about the updates impacting employers all over Australia. Keep up to date with the HR Heartbeat.

Let’s get into the headlines.

NAIDOC Week

From Sunday, the 2nd of July to the 9th of July 2023 Australia observes NAIDOC Week.

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, which emerged in the 1920s to increase awareness of the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The first week of July is an opportunity for workplaces, and Australians all over the country and abroad to learn more about and celebrate the culture, achievements, and history of the community.

In 2023, the theme for National NAIDOC Week is For Our Elders. This theme honours the vital and varied roles Elders play across every generation in both their families and wider communities.

From holders of cultural knowledge and leaders trailblazing new paths to advocates who nurture and teach new generations. They are our loved ones and guides in everyday life and are a powerful voice for change in the world.

Whether it’s by inviting local Elders to speak at your workplace or by hosting a community event, getting involved is an essential way to honour NAIDOC Week and all it stands for.

A super important increase

Starting Saturday, the 1st of July a new suite of laws will make retirement a much less daunting prospect for Australian workers.

Australian employers now need to pay their workers a minimum of 11% superannuation rate, a 0.5% increase from the previous rate of 10.5%.

Superannuation rates will also continue to increase every year on July 1st until the guarantee reaches 12% in 2025.

According to Industry Super Australia, the average worker will be $330 richer each year thanks to this boost.

Make sure your small business is compliant with the law by bringing your payroll up to speed with these changes.

UnFair dismissal

Baseless allegations are never enough reason to terminate an employee, but the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code does make allowances for serious misconduct. So, employees who have engaged in serious misconduct can be terminated without notice or warning.

In a recent case, an employee was dismissed when the employer believed that their violent behaviour was an escalating threat to a co-worker. The behaviour was attributed to a workplace romance that had gone downhill, and that’s exactly what the dismissed employee claimed as the reason for the allegations of bullying and harassment made against him.

The Fair Work Commission and the evidence, however, begged to disagree. Closer examination revealed numerous witnesses who had observed the employee’s aggressive behaviour towards their co-worker. This included an incident when the employee slammed a large gate on their co-worker.

All things considered, it was found that the employer was reasonable in believing that the terminated employee’s behaviour amounted to serious misconduct and the dismissal was compliant with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.

If you’re unsure about the codes and laws you need to be on top of, reach out to our 24/7 team of experienced employment relations advisers.

The FWO advocates for vulnerable workers

A farm business in Victoria is facing legal action from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for allegedly underpaying two employees more than $28,000 between June 2017 and September 2020, falsifying their records to hide these underpayments, and for making unlawful deductions.

The business came under investigation after two former Vietnamese-speaking employees turned to the FWO for assistance. They worked as pickers and packers at the farm and alleged that their flat hourly rates of pay were illegal.

The FWO allegations agree with their claim and state that the workers were each being paid well under the minimum hourly casual rates that they were owed under the Horticulture Award 2010. Not only were they underpaid their minimum wages, but the FWO also alleges that they were underpaid their overtime, casual loading, and public holiday penalty entitlements.

To add to the mounting allegations, the company also provided false/misleading records to the Fair Work Inspector and failed to meet their record-keeping obligations.

FWO Sandra Parker said, “Improving compliance in the agriculture sector and protecting the vulnerable workers who work there are priorities for the FWO...Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice and assistance. They can do this in their own language.”

The business now faces penalties up to $66,600 for each contravention on top of the penalties of up to $13,320 per contravention for the company director.

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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