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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission refuses access to union membership records

On 11 May 2016, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) overturned the FWC General Manager's (GM) decision to authorise two FWC employees to inspect the membership records of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) for the purposes of aiding an investigation by the Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (FWBII). The Full Bench held that the GM’s decision was an invalid exercise of the power conferred by the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (FWRO Act). Background Section 348 of the FWRO Act allows the GM to issue a certificate that states whether a person is a member of a specified organisation, and sets out the legal effect of ... Read more...

Changes to payment of leave loading on termination of employment

Changes to payment of leave loading on termination of employment This FlagPost examines the changes proposed by the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014, in relation to payment of leave loading on unused annual leave when an employee ceases employment, and what those changes would mean for employers and employees. Background Annual leave loading is designed to compensate employees for notional loss of overtime earnings whilst on leave. Despite this, it is relatively common in sectors where overtime payments are infrequent. The Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA) changed the previous long-standing position that leave loading was not payable on termination, unless provided for by an industrial instrument (e... Read more...

Fair Work Commission hands down landmark ruling on anti-bullying regime

Fair Work Commission hands down landmark ruling on anti-bullying regime On 6 March 2014, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruled that its jurisdiction to hear complaints from workers who allege they are victims of workplace bullying extends to complaints that relate to bullying that occurred prior to the anti-bullying regime coming into force.   Background As detailed in a previous flag post, the reforms related to bullying were introduced by the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013, which provided the FWC with jurisdiction to hear complaints from workers covered by the Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA) who allege they are victims of workplace bullying. On 9 January 2014, Ms Kathleen McInnes... Read more...

The role of the Fair Work Commission in tackling workplace bullying

From 1 January 2014, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has jurisdiction to hear complaints from workers covered by the Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA) who allege they are victims of workplace bullying.  Read more...

Federal Circuit Court refuses to hear ‘union slush fund’ dispute

Union reserve funds are not illegal, but that has not stopped them from becoming controversial in the context of recently uncovered instances of serious misuse these funds. Sheehan v Australian Municipal Administrative, Clerical and Services Union & Ors [2013] FCCA 2137 is a Federal Circuit Court decision that sheds light on union members’ standing to bring actions for alleged misconduct by officials. It is cases such as this one which have attracted media attention and seen most union reserve funds pejoratively labelled ‘slush funds’.Union auxiliary monetary accountsMost, if not all unions have reserve funds, also known as auxiliary monetary accounts. These funds have been traditionally... Read more...

Low Flying Kangaroo

The dispute between Qantas and unions can be seen in the context of Qantas’ attempts to remain viable in a highly competitive domestic and international aviation environment. This article examines some of the sources of these competitive pressures and the strategies that Qantas has adopted, or proposes to adopt, in responding to this environment. It finds that these strategies are broadly akin to those that Australian companies in other sectors have adopted when faced with similar circumstances. The aviation industry—domestic and international—has changed markedly in recent years. One such change has been the emergence of low-cost carriers—such as Ryanair—that have made inroads into markets ... Read more...

Industrial relations reforms: boosting labour productivity?

Business leaders are citing impediments caused by the Fair Work legislation as a significant limit on labour productivity:Mr Argus (former BHP Billiton chairman) ... warn(ed) of a return to "the dark days of the 1970s" if labour market flexibility was not boosted. He said under the Fair Work laws, unions were resisting "management attempts to achieve efficiency"... Bureau of Statistics data shows little change in labour productivity growth under the Fair Work Act when compared to the period under Work Choices, while other measures of productivity have also weakened since 2000.( ‘Labor woeful on economic reform, says Argus’) The aim of such criticism, at a minimum, would be to widen ‘prohibit... Read more...

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