Peter McNamara reports on what should be key issues this year

1.   2014 “Stop Bullying” Jurisdiction

The FWC ‘Stop Bullying’ jurisdiction proved a toothless tiger in 2014, with very few stop bullying orders being made. However the press reporting has made employees are now more aware of their rights, in particular, that that  Workers Compensation and personal injury claims can be made for personal injury caused by bullying that is not “reasonable management action”.

Business is trying to sandbag itself against the risk of bullying claims by updating its policies and procedures on bullying, harassment, social media, grievances and dispute resolution. 

2.   Mining and Manufacturing Redundancies

A continuation of the general malaise in manufacturing in 2014 and the collapse of commodity prices will generate more redundancies in 2015.

3.   Workplace Law Reform

The Federal Government’s workplace law reforms, blocked by the Senate, stalled in 2014.  Four Bills before Parliament propose changes to rights of entry, greenfields agreements, bargaining rules and registered organisations. The government also wants to resuscitate the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The Productivity Commission is conducting a Workplace Relations Framework Review .This has generated debate about penalty rates and independent contractors.  The WRF Review will hold public hearings in 2015 and report in late 2015. 

4.   FWO & ACCC Activism

The Fair Work Ombudsman and the ACCC are likely to be active in 2015.

The FWO has flagged campaigns to unravel supply chain arrangements and unfair practices affecting young and foreign workers.

The ACCC is prosecuting the CFMEU and union officials for their secondary boycott of Boral. The hearing is in the third quarter of 2015.  The ACCC may also monitor anti-competitive conduct by unions, and report on what they find, on the back of the recommendation of the Harper Competition Policy Review that the ACCC should issue annual reports with statistics on complaints investigated and resolved.

This increased regulation should be a warning to employers to improve their record keeping and compliance, and to get on top of their employee and contractor contracts, policies and procedures. 


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