Employment Law Podcast Series: Independent Contractors and the Gig Economy

PCC Podcast Episode 6

Following a recent unfair dismissal case involving Uber Eats, and their subsequent announcement of their new business model and contracts for delivery drivers, in this podcast we discuss the status of gig economy workers as independent contractors or employees - an issue  that has been challenged in a number of courts and tribunals globally.

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The Importance of Workplace Policies

Workplace policies are an essential tool for managing employees and can even act as a safeguard for employers when facing litigation. While their most crucial function is to set out what is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace, policies can also produce the side benefit of creating a friendly and productive workplace environment.

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Parental Leave - Key Obligations for Employers

Over recent years there has been significant discussion over the Australian Government’s Parental Leave Pay scheme. It is easy for this to distract from what is perhaps the most important employee entitlement for prospective parents, and one of the most important obligations for employers: unpaid parental leave.

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January 2021 - Month in Review

In the News

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released new figures showing that in December 2020 the official unemployment rate fell to 6.6%. This remains 1.5% higher than in December 2019.
  • After its hearing with the Full Federal Court in December 2020, Uber Eats has issued new contracts to its delivery riders in an effort to grant them greater control and avoid any future court determining of an employer-employee relationship. Among other things, the new contract permits riders to abandon deliveries at their own discretion.
  • Employers can insist on their employees returning to work at the office, provided it is COVID-safe.
  • JobKeeper payments have been reduced to $1000 per fortnight and will end on 28 March 2021.

In the Courts

  • An unfair dismissal application has been upheld on grounds of not being a genuine redundancy after the Fair Work Commission found that non-specialised contractors were retained where employees could have been redeployed in those roles instead.
  • Unions apply for special leave to appeal to the High Court and allege Qantas' misuse of the JobKeeper scheme.
  • An aged care provider directed nine employees to stay away from work due to COVID-19 transmission fears. The Fair Work Commission has ordered that they reinstate the employees' leave, claiming that “it’s just the right thing to do”.
  • Fair Work Commission dismisses CSIRO senior researcher’s unfair dismissal application, saying that it is hard to see how he could have been afforded any greater measure of procedural fairness.

Covid-19 Update: JobKeeper Extension

In this newsletter we look into the changes to JobKeeper payments and directions with the package extension effective from 28 September 2020.

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