Regions

Status of proposed reduction of bankruptcy term to one year

In December 2015 the Federal Government announced proposed reforms to insolvency laws as part of its National Innovation Statement (NIS).

The NIS includes a controversial proposal to reduce the current minimum bankruptcy term from three years to one year. The rationale is to encourage individuals who innovate to ‘fail quickly’. This proposal has received a lot of attention in the mainstream press and we have received many queries regarding the status of this proposed reform.

The Government called for submissions – which closed on 27 May 2016. 72 submissions were received, including from Australia’s peak insolvency body – ARITA and various law societies and insolvency practitioners Australia-wide.

The proposed reform forms part of the Government’s second tranche of insolvency reforms, which according to the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services are being progressed.

However, since the Federal election, the progress of the mooted reforms appears to have slowed.

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NLRB Majority Strikes Down Overly Broad Employee Handbook Policies

Our colleagues Lauri F. Rasnick and Jonathan L. Shapiro, attorneys at Epstein Becker Green, have a post on the Financial Services Employment Law blog that will be of interest to many of our readers: “Policies Prohibiting ‘Insubordination or Other Disrespectful Conduct’ and ‘Boisterous or Disruptive Activity in the Workplace’ Struck Down by NLRB Majority.”

Following is an excerpt:

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Following an Appeals Court Decision, Pennsylvania Adopts New Payroll Regulations

On October 21, 2016, a Pennsylvania appeals court found that a group of franchisees were in violation of the state’s Wage Payment and Collection Law (“WPCL”) when they required employees to be paid with payroll debit cards. While the WPCL only permitted wage payment in cash or check, the Pennsylvania court noted that voluntary use of payroll debit cards may be an appropriate method payment. In this case, the court held that mandatory use of payroll debit cards was not lawful, as it may subject the employee to fees without his or her consent.

Two weeks later, on November 4, 2016, the Pennsylvania legislature adopted new legislation amending the WPCL and officially including payroll debit cards as a permissible form of payment by employers, provided that several conditions are met. The new law takes effect on May 5, 2017.

Under the new law, the use of payroll debit cards is permitted if, among other things:

  • The payroll card account is established at a financial institution whose funds are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Administration;
  • The employer does not make the payment of wages, salary, commissions or other compensation by means of a payroll card account a condition of employment or a condition for the receipt of any benefit for any employee;
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Policies Prohibiting “Insubordination or Other Disrespectful Conduct” and “Boisterous or Disruptive Activity in the Workplace” Struck Down by NLRB Majority

Once again seemingly appropriate work rules have been under attack by the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). In a recent decision (Component Bar Products, Inc. and James R. Stout, Case 14-CA-145064), two members of a three-member NLRB panel upheld an August 7, 2015 decision by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) finding that an employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or the “Act”) by maintaining overly broad handbook rules and terminating an employee who was engaged in “protected, concerted activity” when he called another employee and warned him that his job was in jeopardy.  Member Miscimarra concurred in part and dissented in part, arguing that the Board should overrule applicable precedent interpreting the Act.

Factual background

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Talking Tax – Issue 59

ATO updates

Practical Compliance Guideline on Simplified Transfer Pricing Record Keeping

The ATO has published for consultation a draft Practical Compliance Guideline (PCG) setting out the seven existing Simplified Transfer Pricing Record Keeping measures as well as providing an additional simplification option for outbound low-level loans.

The measures are designed to reduce the record keeping burden required under Subdivision 284-E of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 and therefore improve compliance by offering an administrative safe-harbour. They are available to companies, trusts and partnerships that meet the self-assessed eligibility criteria.

The new simplification option for outbound low-level loans compliments the existing simplification measure for inbound low-level loans, ensuring that low level related party cross-border loans are eligible for the simplification measures regardless of which party is the issuer of the related party debt.

Feedback on the draft PCG is due by 16 December 2016.

The complete list of ‘simplification options’ in the draft PCG are:

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DAHL Advokatfirma åbner kontor i Aarhus

DAHL Advokatfirma slår den 1. januar 2017 dørene op til et helt nyt kontor på Åboulevarden i Aarhus.

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Judge Orders Lawyer and Client Jailed For Contempt

Business Development Bank of Canada v. Cavalon Inc. 2016 ONSC 6825

                             

In this case, both a lawyer and his former client were ordered to serve 90 day custodial sentences after being found in contempt of an order of a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.    

 

These reasons arose out of the penalty phase of contempt proceedings.  In previous reasons, Justice Gray found Robert Bortolon (“Bortolon”) and his former lawyer, Robyrt Regan (“Regan”), in contempt of an order of Justice Lemay.  The context involved an application commenced by the Business Development Bank of Canada
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Decision Enjoining Federal Overtime Rule Changes Will Not Affect Proposed Increases Under New York State’s Overtime Laws

Abstract Image - Business TimeAs we recently reported on our Wage & Hour Defense Blog, on November 22, 2016, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing its new overtime exemption rule that would have more than doubled the current salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions and was scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016. To the extent employers have not already increased exempt employees’ salaries or converted them to non-exempt positions, the injunction will, at the very least, appear to allow many employers to postpone those changes—but likely not in the case of employees who work in New York State.

On October 19, 2016, the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) announced proposed amendments to the state’s minimum wage orders (“Proposed Amendments”) to increase the salary basis threshold for executive and administrative employees under the state’s wage and hour laws (New York does not impose a minimum salary threshold for exempt “professional” employees).  The current salary threshold for the administrative and executive exemptions under New York law is $675 per week ($35,100 annually) throughout the state.  The NYSDOL has proposed the following increases to New York’s salary threshold for the executive and administrative exemptions:

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‘Super’-sizing private equity in Australia

Following the global financial crisis, many critics of the financial services market expected private equity ventures to be the first alternative investment vehicle to disappear. Over the short term, this was true, with investment in private equity vehicles temporarily suspended by many foreign investors as they grappled with issues of liquidity and by Australian institutional investors because of the lack of transparency in private equity funds. However more recently there has been a resurgence of investment into the international private equity market.

Trustees of Australian superannuation schemes and pension funds, in particular, have recently been bullish about private equity in their search for greater alpha. Institutional superannuation trustees hold in excess of two trillion Australian dollars (approximately USD 1.523 trillion) of assets on behalf of Australian superannuants and are beginning to return to direct investment in a more stable post-GFC market.

Historically, there have been two factors which limit the flow of funds from the Australian superannuation industry to international private equity firms. The first, the lack of knowledge or familiarity of Australian trustees with the legal vehicles or structures used to organise private equity investments. The second, the lack of understanding by private equity firms of the Australian regulatory regime which imposes investment restrictions on trustees that can be incompatible with private equity investments.

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New Form I-9 Goes Into Effect On January 21, 2017

E. Jason Tremblay

E. Jason Tremblay

A revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9, which is required to be filled out for every new employee, was recently issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The new version is here. Among other changes to the form, Section 1 now asks to provide “other last names used” and streamlines the certification for certain foreign nationals.

The current version of the Form I-9 will continue to be valid until January 21, 2017. After this date, employers will be required to use the new form.

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