Australia: Workplace violence and red collar crime: Is it more threatening than you think?

Workplace violence is a significant and ongoing risk that employers should be alive to because it affects employee health, safety and wellbeing, which in turn impacts on productivity, absenteeism, sickness and replacement costs, to name a few.  In respect of the individual, it often causes physical or psychological injury and can even lead to death. In respect of the employer and industry more broadly, it can play out as an expensive scenario in terms of resources, money, time, good will, reputation and increased workers’ compensation and insurance premiums. Unfortunately however, the extent and prevalence of workplace violence in Australia is somewhat unknown. This is partly due to definitional ambiguities, the absence of national data being collected in this area and under-reporting. Continue reading

Australia: The current position on industrial manslaughter by state and territory

We are witnessing a clear escalation in regulatory activity across Australia, most recently and very topical is the new Industrial Manslaughter (IM) offence.

Where a business is found to have negligently caused the death of a worker, the possible consequences for leadership, management and businesses are potentially significant. Senior officers (which includes everyone involved in management) could face up to 20 years jail time and businesses may be fined up to $10 million (or up to $16 million in Victoria). Continue reading

Hong Kong: Legislative Council to consider reinstatement remedy for unfair dismissal claims

On 25 April 2017, the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2017 was introduced for first reading in the Legislative Council. This Bill follows a similar Bill proposed in 2016 and if passed, will strengthen the Labour Tribunal’s power to make an order of reinstatement or re-engagement in cases where an employee has been unlawfully dismissed. While this remedy is already available to the Labour Tribunal, its exercise is currently permitted only where both parties consent.

Continue reading

Singapore: Illegal workers – High Court holds employer liable for injuries to illegal worker

In Md Shohel Md Khobir Uddin v Chen Yongbiao and another [2017] SGHC 109, the Singapore High Court (SGHC) awarded an individual working illegally 80% of the damages claimed for personal injuries suffered as a result of an employers' negligence. In reaching her decision, the learned Judge held that public policy weighs in favour of awarding damages to injured illegal workers. Only where the injury is the direct result of commission of a crime will relief be denied. In addition to discussing public policy considerations, the SGHC provided guidance as to the factors and circumstances which may be taken into account by the courts when apportioning liability between parties in circumstances where the employee's own negligence contributed to his injury.

Continue reading

UK: New publications – ACAS guidance – productivity, terminal illness, dress codes, gender pay gap reports

Acas has issued guidance for line managers to help run effective teams and on dealing with life-threatening conditions at work, and has updated its dress code guidance in light of research showing discrimination against employees with visible tattoos.  It has also asked for managers and HR professionals to complete a short survey to assist with the production of guidance on the gender pay gap reporting obligation expected to come into force in April 2017.

Australia: One size plaster cast does not fit all – Navigating the pitfalls of dismissing an injured or incapacitated worker

In brief

  • Many employers will, at some point, be faced with the difficult task of terminating the employment of an employee who has been absent from work for some time and is no longer able to perform their job due to illness or injury. This can be a tricky issue to manage and negotiate.
  • The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in Lion Dairy and Drinks Milk Limited v Norman [2016] FWCFB 42181 (Lion Dairy) has provided some important guidance on the principles which will be applied when an employee who has been dismissed for their incapacity brings a claim for unfair dismissal.
  • This decision emphasises that there is no one-size-fits-all approach – it is important that employers consider each case individually and, in particular, seek and rely upon clear and considered medical advice before determining that an employee can no longer perform the inherent requirements of their role.

Continue reading

UK: New resources on human rights, terminal illness, database of tribunal decisions

  • The EHRC has published guidance for board directors on business and human rights.
  • The TUC has launched a Dying to Work campaign, seeking better employment law rights for those with terminal illness and asking employers to sign up to a voluntary charter. 
  • Plans have been announced to introduce a new online database of employment tribunal rulings from Autumn 2016 (although this timetable may prove ambitious), available to all to search on the internet – see here.  The wider availability of decisions may be a factor to be taken into account when considering settlement.

Japan: Employers to offer stress checks to workers

From December 2015 amendments to Japan’s Industrial Safety and Health Act will require employers regularly employing 50 workers or more to offer an annual stress check to employees. This will include staff on secondment to overseas offices. Workplaces with fewer than 50 regular employees are encouraged (including subsidies), but not required, to offer the stress checks. Employees are recommended but not obliged, to undergo the stress check offered. Continue reading

Asia: Comparing employment laws across the region

We asked our lawyers to tell us three need-to-know employment law facts in Singapore, Hong Kong, PRC, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and Japan. The results show that while there are some similarities across the region, there are also some very interesting differences. The table can be accessed here.