The ‘Trends in Federal Enterprise Bargaining’ report for January-March 2017 was released by the Department of Employment yesterday.
This data is a valuable tool for benchmarking during any enterprise agreement negotiations you have coming up.
The latest report reveals that:
- Across the country, Victoria again recorded the highest average annual wages increase (AAWI) with 3.2% for the quarter, compared to Western Australia with the lowest at 1.9%.
- The mining and construction industries had the largest drops in AAWI this quarter (0.9% and 1.0% respectively). However, while mining is now the industry with the lowest AAWI (at 1.4%), construction remained the industry with the highest annual wage growth at 4.2%.
- As a general trend, wage growth continues to slide across both the private and public sectors when comparing enterprise agreements approved during the March 2017 quarter with both the last quarter (December 2016) and the same quarter last year (March 2016). Continue reading
Following various parliamentary inquiries at the Federal and State level into labour hire practices, it looks as though state-based labour hire licensing schemes will very soon be a reality, with the South Australian Government recently joining Queensland1 by introducing proposed legislation for a state-based labour hire licensing scheme. The Victorian Government has also indicated its intention to introduce a state-based licensing scheme. Continue reading
Employers will have to adopt strict safeguards and auditing measures to ensure compliance with the new corrupting benefits legislation passed by both Houses of Parliament late last week.
The Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Bill 2017 (Cth) – currently awaiting royal assent – enacts recommendations arising out of the Heydon Royal Commission in relation to corrupting benefits made between employers and employee organisations. Continue reading
On 14 April 2017 the latest unemployment insurance agreement (convention d’assurance chômage) was agreed by trade unions and employers’ organisations and entered into for a period of 3 years.
The provisions of this agreement come progressively into force from 1 October 2017 and will be applicable for a period of 3 years under the supervision of a steering committee. The key modifications are described below.
Simpkin v The Berkeley Group Holdings plc highlights the potential benefits for employers of a clear and comprehensive IT policy, referred to in the employment contract and signed by an employee, which provides that emails and documents sent using the employer’s IT system are the employer’s property and will be subject to monitoring. The employer had such a policy in Simpkin and the High Court ruled that an employee who created and stored documents on the employer’s IT system had no reasonable expectation of privacy. As a result, documents and emails he sent from the employer’s system to his home email were not confidential or privileged as against the employer.
The EAT has confirmed that the obligation to consult about collective redundancies applies where the employees assigned to an establishment have a sufficiently strong connection to Great Britain and British employment law; it is not the connection of the establishment that is relevant.
The fact that an employee working overseas is on an employment contract governed by English law is a relevant factor in determining whether he can bring an unfair dismissal claim in England, even if it was simply a standard contract drafted for employees working in England and was used for the claimant simply for convenience. The tribunal’s failure to take this into account in relation to an employee working in Saudi Arabia in Green v Sig Trading Limited led to the EAT remitting the case for reconsideration.
The EAT in University of Sunderland v Drossou has decided that, contrary to previous practice, employer pension contributions should be included in the calculation of a week’s pay. This will increase the value of awards, in particular where the full value of a week’s pay is used (ie, it is not capped), such as the unfair dismissal compensatory award and compensation for failure to inform and consult on TUPE transfers or collective redundancies. The impact could be particularly significant for employees in DB schemes.
Employers should check that their template restrictive covenants prohibiting being directly or indirectly engaged or ‘concerned’ or ‘interested in’ competing businesses expressly carve out and permit minor shareholdings. The Court of Appeal has overruled a High Court decision in Egon Zehnder Ltd v Tillman, finding that the phrase “concerned or interested in” was unambiguous in covering all shareholdings. As a result, the covenant was held to be too wide and unenforceable against an employee (who in fact was actually seeking to compete more directly). The Court also confirmed that it was not possible to ‘blue pencil’ or sever the offending words as severance can only be applied to a single covenant and not to parts of a single covenant (unless it is in effect a combination of several distinct covenants).
The EAT in International Petroleum Ltd v Osipov has made clear that an employee can bring a whistleblowing detriment claim against a fellow worker in relation to their actions in dismissing him (for which the employer may be vicariously liable), in addition to an unfair dismissal claim against the employer. The law only prohibits bringing a claim based on dismissal as a detriment claim against the employer, not against colleagues instrumental in the decision to dismiss.