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  • The data that demonstrates the state of play of enterprise bargaining

    In a previous blog, we’ve mentioned the decline of enterprise bargaining in Australia. Some data to support this follows in this blog. Both agreement numbers and employees covered by in-term agreements are in decline. Point 7 and 8 highlight the challenges faced by parties making agreements and the Fair Work Commission in processing agreement approvals....

  • Collective bargaining: the outlook

    In yesterday’s blog, we commented on the state of play in enterprise bargaining in Australia. So what’s the outlook for enterprise bargaining in Australia? Here’s the top 7: Collective bargaining remains unlikely to be the answer for productivity gains – as has been the case for some time. Nor will it deliver the across-the-board wages...

  • No silver bullet for slowing wages growth in Australia, but there are solutions

    The debate on what is to be done about slowing wages growth of Australian workers is, understandably, receiving an increased focus in the midst of an intense election campaign. The Labor Party has described this election as “A referendum on wages”. The Australian Council of Trade Unions, under its “Change the Rules” campaign, argues that...

  • We Care About Machines, But Will They Care About Us?

    By Paul Cutrone, Sam Witton and Sarah Goodhew Seyfarth Synopsis: This morning we feature a blog from our colleagues at Seyfarth Shaw Australia, which provides updates and insights on workplace issues, employment law and health and safety, from Seyfarth Shaw Australia’s team of local and international experts. Our clients care deeply about innovation and technology. We know this from...

  • Congratulations to our newest partner, Erin Hawthorne

    We are excited to announce that Erin Hawthorne has been promoted to partner. Although we have grown through lateral partner appointments over the past few years, Erin is the first promotion to partner from within the team since the Australian offices of Seyfarth Shaw opened in Australia. “Erin has been a leader in our team...

  • Australia’s landmark Modern Slavery Act passes into law

    After several years of reports and recommendations, the Australian Parliament has passed the Modern Slavery Act 2018—carrying an imperative for businesses in Australia to take action on their modern slavery risks and responsibilities. Updates to the legislation The Modern Slavery Bill generated impassioned debate in both the House and Senate, passing with bipartisan support and...

  • Modern slavery update: take heed, or take heat

    Modern slavery legislation at the Commonwealth level in Australia is getting closer. The Modern Slavery Bill 2018 (Cth) passed the Lower House last week. The Opposition pushed for several amendments to the legislative framework including establishing an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to oversee implementation and enforcement of the legislation, the introduction of penalties on companies...

  • Modern Slavery Bill 2018: An Action Plan

    The introduction of the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Bill 2018 on 28 June 2018 sets an imperative for businesses operating in Australia to know, and show, how they are identifying and addressing the risks of modern slavery. Reporting Requirement At the centre of the Bill is the Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement: a mandatory requirement that entities...

  • Preparing Australian employers for increases in employment class action lawsuits

    Employment class action lawsuits are a common cause of action in North America, and while we have traditionally seen fewer in Australia, there has been a recent uptick in occurrences. What does this mean for Australian employers? Without large numbers of cases and their precedents to study, how you plan for and prevent class actions...

  • Industrial relations in an age of automation

    Automation is a game changer that is altering the industrial landscape. A Committee for Economic Development of Australia publication estimates that over the next 10 to 20 years, 40% of jobs in Australia have a high probability of being susceptible to computerisation and automation. Smart businesses will approach the automation process from the front end and...

  • A Modern Slavery Act for Australia

    The Australian Government’s inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act reflects a growing domestic and international commitment to eliminate the exploitative practices of modern day slavery, and recommends new reporting and due diligence obligations for businesses operating in Australia. Hidden in plain sight Over 40 million people around the world are trapped in conditions of...

  • The future of work: pioneering health and safety professionals

    Working with Australia’s leading organisations means we are supporting them on a range of strategic business initiatives, to drive safety outcomes in the workplace of the future. These organisations are extending themselves beyond the regulatory assessment of ‘reasonable practicability’ and embracing innovation. Here is a snapshot of some of the pioneering work. Collaboration is creating...

  • Australia: Industrial Manslaughter – Will the Response to Community Outrage Deliver Results?

    By Jane Hall, Paul Cutrone, Sam Witton, and Nick Neil Seyfarth Synopsis:  We are aware that many of the clients we advise on U.S. workplace safety and health laws and regulations also have operations in Australia.  The below blog provides insights into recent significant developments in workplace safety and health law in Queensland.  Please feel free to contact the...

  • A perspective on the unequal representation of women in leadership

    It is an indisputable fact that women are not equally represented in leadership roles or management positions in Australian companies and governments, not even close. Even in 2016, this is the case in almost all arenas of business and politics and is most certainly a global issue, although Australia even appears to lag in this...

  • Managing personal admin during working hours: is it too late now to say sorry?

    As the Beliebers of Australia will tell you, tickets for Justin Bieber’s 2017 “Purpose World Tour” were released in Victoria on Wednesday, 12 October at precisely 1pm.  In a frenzy, fans across Victoria were using their employer’s time and resources to purchase (or miss out on) tickets. As society becomes increasingly digitalised, it’s now common...

  • The Art of Law

    Long experience representing many of Australia’s leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee’s representative (be it a solicitor, union, industrial agent, etc.) is a major factor in how employee litigation runs. Many representatives and firms in the employment market have a well-worn modus operandi. As practitioners, the more...

  • A word of advice, on advice

    Are you getting the best advice when it comes to health and safety compliance? When we deliver legal briefings, both in Australia and internationally, top-of-mind for Boards and Senior Executives is the health, safety and welfare of people affected by their operations. This is how it should be – so everyone breathe a collective sigh of...

  • Seyfarth Shaw moves to new location in Sydney

    Seyfarth Shaw’s Sydney office is now located at: Level 40, Governor Phillip Tower 1 Farrer Place, Sydney NSW 2000. Due to Seyfarth Shaw’s rapid growth in Australia, we needed to find a new and larger space for our growing team. As part of our search, many buildings were considered but the option of a long-term...

  • Love me tender – how IR is a key point of difference

    Are we in the beginnings of a cyclical upswing in industrial action in Australia? And if so, what does it mean for those involved in competitive tender processes? Data from the ABS indicates that the last spike in industrial disputes occurred in September 2012, with around 110,000 working days lost. The sense that there may...

  • What lies beyond enterprise bargaining?

    In 1993, the Keating government passed laws to move Australia towards a “system based primarily on bargaining at the workplace, with much less reliance on arbitration at the apex” (Laurie Brereton MP, Minister for Industrial Relations, 28 October 1993).  The embrace of enterprise bargaining instead of industry-wide, centralised wage fixation was to be the end...

  • What does the Trans Pacific Partnership mean for IP in Australia?

    The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPP) between twelve Pacific Rim counties, including Australia and the United States, was finally made public on 5 November. The text of the Agreement will now be reviewed by various parliamentary committees before Parliament votes on legislation to implement the Agreement in Australia, likely to be in February or March next year....

  • Australia Non-Compete Update: the Difference Between Winning and Losing Restraint Litigation is Often Good Housekeeping

    By Michael Tamvakologos and Justine Giuliani An enforceable restraint of trade can be a key business asset. Or some might think about it as an insurance policy. The capacity to preserve customer connections, protect confidential information and discourage key executives from setting up their own business or moving to a competitor can be critical to...

  • Australia’s Proposed Data Breach Notification Law: What’s The Harm In A “Real Risk of Serious Harm” Standard?

    Last week, the government of Australia released an “Exposure Draft” of a bill that, if passed into law, would amend Australia’s Privacy Act to require notification to the government and affected individuals in the event of a data breach. Currently, although Australian law requires government agencies and businesses subject to the Privacy Act to take...

  • Will the ‘joint employment’ concept take hold in Australia?

    When does a person who works within a business, but isn’t on the ‘books’ of the business owner, become an employee? This issue has been litigated many times in Australia but, to date, courts have been reluctant to embrace the concept of ‘joint employment’ – that is, where an employee is employed by two different...

  • Director dashboard – is no news good news?

    Sometimes for boards, no news is bad news. Improving safety statistics, workplace diversity reporting, industry remuneration statistics and ‘good’ employee turnover levels are ‘people’ matters that board members are usually informed about. But are there matters that Boards don’t hear about because their executives don’t want to trouble them with problems or be the bearers of bad...

  • The new industrial revolution – digitisation in the workplace

    In the 6 January edition of the Australian Financial Review ANZ Bank CEO Mike Smith described the effects of digitisation as being “as significant as the changes imposed by the industrial revolution”. This comment is supported by a deep and diverse data set and important research from organisations such as McKinsey & Company and we...

  • “Please tell me who and where?” – The power of questions in bargaining

    Adversarial debate has been the key form of advocating for claims in enterprise bargaining in Australia. In traditional power based negotiations, debate has its merits and place. Arguing for one’s position is invariably a necessity but it is not the be-all and end-all. The famous exchange between George Negus and the late Dame Margaret Thatcher...

  • Unlimited annual leave policy, you’re kidding right?

    Recently, Virgin Group announced through its CEO Richard Branson, that it would be removing its workplace policy that limits holidays for employees. The ‘no policy’ approach to annual leave is to be implemented as a flexible working policy measure that allows all salaried staff to take off as much time as they want, whenever they want...

  • Responding to pornography in the workplace

    Terminating the employment of an employee who accesses, receives, stores or distributes pornography in the workplace will usually constitute a valid reason for dismissal under the statutory unfair dismissal provisions. However, employers should be careful in adopting a ‘zero tolerance’ approach. Recent cases in the Federal Court of Australia and the Fair Work Commission provide...

  • “Mutual trust and confidence” not necessary in Australia

    The High Court of Australia has handed down its much awaited decision in Commonwealth Bank of Australia v Barker [2014] HCA 32. All five members of the High Court found that a term of “mutual trust and confidence” should not be implied into all contracts of employment in Australia. Although two of the five members...

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