Asia Pacific

Dismissal of pregnant employee with morning sickness unlawful

The Federal Circuit Court has found that an employer took unlawful adverse action against a pregnant employee when it dismissed her for taking time off work due to morning sickness and to attend medical appointments1.

The background to the dismissal was that:

  • In March 2016, the employee attended a three-month review meeting halfway through her six month probation period. The company told the employee that she appeared to be “going alright” and did not raise any performance concerns. The employee told the company that she was pregnant and that she intended to commence maternity leave on 1 September 2016.
  • Over the next three months, the employee took a total of seven days sick leave due to morning sickness, plus four days’ annual leave to attend medical appointments related to her pregnancy.
  • On 3 June 2016, the last working day before her probation period expired, a director of the company dismissed the employee telling her that: “due to your current circumstances, your employment has become unreliable and we have decided not to continue with your employment”.
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No indication of when the reduction in the bankruptcy minimum period to one year will occur

In December 2015, the Federal Government proposed changes to its insolvency laws as part of its National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). Changes included a proposal to reduce the minimum bankruptcy period from three years to one year, with the aim of encouraging innovation and risk taking by reducing the consequences associated with bankruptcy.

Other reforms proposed as part of NISA include a proposed safe harbour carve out to protect directors from insolvent trading liability and a stay on the enforcement of ipso facto clauses while a company is under voluntary administration. These three reforms are separate to those contained in the Insolvency Law Reform Act 2016 (Cth).

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Hall & Wilcox finalists in four categories at Australian Law Awards

Hall & Wilcox is delighted to be named finalists in four categories at the 2017 Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards.

Now in its 17th consecutive year, the Australian Law Awards recognises excellence in law, legal professionals and law firms.

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Covert workplace surveillance: are there grounds for it?

A recent unfair dismissal case, Ms Shahin Tavassoli v Bupa Aged Care Mosman, in which an employee was dismissed based on footage obtained covertly by another employee, has raised some issues regarding covert workplace surveillance.

In considering the case, employers are reminded to:

  • exercise caution when considering undertaking covert surveillance or otherwise using covert surveillance footage, including where an employee produces video footage secretly taken of another employee and
  • ensure compliance with applicable surveillance laws if surveillance is considered necessary in the workplace.
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What you need to know about changes to the Retail Leases Act now in effect

Changes to the Retail Leases Act 1994 (NSW) (RLA NSW) have come into force from 1 July 2017, following a quiet 13-year period without any amendments to the act. Both landlords and tenants of retail premises in New South Wales will be impacted – here are some key changes they must know:

Lessor’s Disclosure Statements

We see the introduction of section 12A, which provides:

  • That a lessee is not liable to pay any amount to the lessor regarding any outgoings unless the liability to pay the amount was disclosed in the lessor’s disclosure statement for the lease.That where a cost estimate has been provided, and the estimated amount is less than the actual amount – if there was no reasonable basis for the estimate when the lessor’s disclosure statement was given, then the lessee’s liability for any payment will be determined on the estimate and not the actual amount.
  • That where a cost estimate has been provided, and the estimated amount is less than the actual amount – if there was no reasonable basis for the estimate when the lessor’s disclosure statement was given, then the lessee’s liability for any payment will be determined on the estimate and not the actual amount.
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Talking Tax – Issue 86

Case law

AAT rejects Taxpayer’s claim for input tax credits

In GH1 Pty Ltd (in Liquidation) v FCT [2017] AATA 1063, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal affirmed the Commissioner of Taxation’s decision to disallow input tax credits (ITCs) totalling $817,207 for bulk earthwork services provided in relation to a development project.

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Is that reasonable? The impact of federal discrimination laws when managing injured workers

A recent Federal Circuit Court decision1 reminds employers that the obligation under the federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) to make reasonable adjustments for injured workers:

  • is limited to adjustments that would enable an employee to perform the role he or she is employed to do and
  • does not require employers to redeploy an injured worker to an alternative suitable position.
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The lowdown on paid parental leave

Failure to launch

In May 2015, the Abbott Government proposed changes to the paid parental leave scheme which sparked much controversy. These changes sought to crack down on new parents ‘double dipping’ in light of comments that women were ‘rorting the system’ by accessing both employer and Government funded paid parental leave entitlements.

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Asean Today – Regional Legal and Business News – June 2017

ASEAN Economic Community News

Regional Economic Outlook
The ASEAN Secretariat reports that ASEAN in 2017 will continue to see strong economic growth that should match its 4.8% growth in 2016. The Secretariat attributes the growth to the strengthening of private consumption and private investment in the region. In 2018, they expect domestic demand growth to be driven by 1) consumption, backed by stable labor market conditions and wage growth, and 2) demand, backed by public spending on infrastructure projects and fiscal stimulus. Downside risks include potential disruptions due to global trade policy adjustments and changes in monetary policies.

ASEAN Power Grid
At the ASEAN Ministers of Energy meeting in September, Thailand, Laos, and Malaysia plan on signing a tripartite electricity-trading agreement which could initiate the start of the ASEAN Power Grid. The agreement covers the sale of 100 megawatts of electricity generated in Laos and transferred to Malaysia using Thailand’s transmission system. The planned ASEAN Power Grid will be a secure, reliable integrated electricity infrastructure that will help stimulate regional economic growth and development.

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Hall & Wilcox finalist at Hunter Diversity Awards

Leading business law firm Hall & Wilcox is pleased to be named as a finalist for the Workplace Flexibility Champion Award at the 2017 Hunter Diversity Awards.

The Workplace Flexibility Champion Award recognises an organisation that is putting into practice initiatives that allow all employees the opportunity to prosper and succeed through flexible work practices.

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