Christmas shutdown (20/2016)

We would like to advise that the WALGA office will shut from Friday,  23 December  2016 and will reopen on Tuesday, 3 January 2017.
 
If you require advice about an urgent industrial or employee matter during the shutdown, please contact Scott Roffey on 0407 423 585.
 
We have really enjoyed assisting and supporting you during 2016 and we look forward to continuing to work with you in 2017.
 
If you have any questions about this alert, please contact a member of the WALGA Employee Relations unit on (08) 9213 2092 or email  WALGA Employee Relations .
 

What is abandonment of employment? (19/2016)

Abandonment of employment is generally accepted as the ending of employment where an employee is absent from work for a period of time and that absence is unexplained.
 
The employer must consider whether the conduct of the employee evidences an intention not to perform the role. If such an assessment can reasonably be made in all the circumstances, the employer may accept the employee’s repudiation of the contract and consider that the employment has been brought to an end. A mere failure of an employee to attend work, on one or more occasions, in most circumstances will amount to no more than an unauthorised absence which may or may not be grounds for disciplinary action.
 
Abandonment of employment is not referred to in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) or the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA). The Local Government Industry Award 2010 does not contain any such provisions. The interim State Awards also do not contain any abandonment of employment provisions.
 
A complex body of case law exists that may guide employers in determining whether an employee has abandoned their employment.
 
What if our enterprise agreement or contracts contain an abandonment clause?
In the case of Searle v Moly Mines Ltd [2008] AIRCFB 1088 ( Searle case), an employee had failed to attend work or communicate with her employer for a period of one week after being absent for several weeks on workers compensation. The initial decision held the employee had abandoned her employment. This initial decision was then overturned primarily based on the following factors:

  • the existence of the workers compensation claim and the employers knowledge of the claim;  and
  • the fact that the employer had received an updated medical certificate covering the absence later in the same day after writing to the employee.
In the Searle case, the employment contract contained a clause that provided that any unexplained absence exceeding three days would constitute abandonment. The High Court noted that the contractual abandonment clause did not result in automatic termination of the contract and that it could not be taken to apply in every absence, and even if it did apply, the employer could have waived it.
 
The Searle case highlights that a finding of abandonment of employment may be less likely in circumstances involving workers compensation, or long term personal/carer’s leave absences, where the employer is aware of the circumstances. The Searle case also concludes that additional steps may still be required to bring employment despite the existence of a contractual right to terminate due to abandonment of employment.
 
A case example of abandonment of employment:
A case example where an employer successfully argued the employee abandoned their employment was the matter of Pal v Fuji Xerox Australia Pty Limited (2002) 117 IR 270 ( Pal case). In the Pal case, the employee was granted leave to travel overseas. The employee did not return on the required date. The employer wrote to the employee to require him to attend for work immediately. After two weeks with no response having been received from the employee, the employer notified the employee their employment was terminated on the grounds of abandonment. In finding that the employee had abandoned his employment, the Commission took the view that it will assist an employer facing an unfair dismissal claim if it has followed an appropriate process in a potential abandonment situation. The Commission stated that the employer “did everything possible to inform the applicant of his entitlements and of the conditions attached to his closed period of leave".
 
Process for establishing abandonment of employment:
An employer should take positive steps to determine an employee’s particular circumstances, notify them of the consequences of their absence and offer them the opportunity to respond.
 
The employer should ideally:
  • Attempt to make phone contact when the employee is absent without notification and leave a message if possible.
  • Attempt to contact the employee’s next of kin. If you are able to talk to the employee’s next of kin, advise you are concerned about the welfare of the employee as you have not heard from them and ask them to pass on a message for the employee to return your call.
  • Attempt to make contact again within the following few days, or at maximum within a week, if no response is received. You may also choose to send email correspondence or try to contact them through a social media platform. Ensure that you are clear in any communication with the employee that you consider the employee may have abandoned their employment and that their employment may end if they fail to make contact by a certain date.
  • If a response is received evaluate the reasons provided with reference to the length of absence. If the circumstances do not amount to abandonment of employment, you may still choose to proceed with a disciplinary process if appropriate.
  • If no response is received, write a letter to the employee outlining times and dates when you attempted to contact them, and their next of kin, including dates of absence and whether a message was left. This letter should outline a reasonable timeframe for their response, and state that if they do not respond, you will deem they have abandoned their employment. Send the letter by registered post to their last known address so you can confirm if it has been received.
  • If no response is received to the letter, send out a final letter confirming that you have accepted their abandonment of their employment.

Has an employee actually abandoned their employment?
The body of case law is complex and each case is determined on the facts on a case by case basis. Please feel free to contact us for detailed advice if you think you may have an employee who has abandoned their employment.
 
For further information email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092
 

Update on the WALGA ER Unit (18/2016)

The WALGA Employee Relations unit has added some talented advisors into the service within the past 12 months primarily due to the addition of a Senior Employee Relations Advisor within the unit structure. Coupled with our existing unit members, we have assembled a professional and hard-working unit to continue to provide a prompt and professional employee relations services to all our subscribers.

Our Employee Relations unit currently consists of eight professionals, including the Executive Manager of Governance and Organisational Services, the Employee Relations Manager, the Senior Employee Relations Advisor, four Employee Relations Advisors and the Employee Relations Support Officer.

One of our Employee Relations Advisors, Davina Hunter, has recently embarked on 12 months unpaid leave to undertake a voluntary role as a legal advisor in Samoa.

Continue reading to find out some information about each of our unit members:

Tony Brown
Executive Manager of Governance & Organisational Services
Email:  tbrown@walga.asn.au
Phone: +61 8 9213 2051

Tony Brown is the Executive Manager of WALGA Governance & Organisational Services, which comprises of the following WALGA work units:

  • Employee Relations
  • Training
  • Governance Advice
  • Recruitment
  • Regional Co-operation
  • Strategy and Association Governance

Tony has over 30 years’ experience in the Local Government sector including roles in the Finance, Administration and Community Services portfolios together with experience as a Chief Executive Officer at the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley. The majority of Tony’s appointments have been in the country regions, however, he has worked at two metropolitan Local Governments. Tony’s current position is Executive Manager Governance & Organisational Services with WALGA, a position he has held since October 2006.

In addition to Local Government sector experience, Tony has had experience in owning and operating two businesses in the hospitality sector.

Fun Fact: Tony Brown has been a Mango, Paw Paw and Asparagus farmer whilst living in Kununurra.

Scott Roffey
Employee Relations Manager
Email:  sroffey@walga.asn.au
Phone: +61 8 9213 2014

Scott has considerable experience in industrial relations and employment law. He gained much of his knowledge of workplace relations and legal training through his time at the Workplace Authority (now Fair Work Ombudsman) during which he worked as a Workplace Info Line Advisor and a Legal Officer. He also has over six years' experience in the Local Government sector having worked as an Employee Relations Advisor with WALGA before assuming the role as Employee Relations Manager.

Scott has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Legal Studies and a Graduate Bachelor of Laws degree. He has completed the Practical Legal Training Program with the College of Law making him eligible to be admitted as a lawyer to the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Fun fact: Scott used to be relatively fluent in Japanese and has a large collection of beer coasters.

Gaby Buchholz
Employee Relations Support Officer
Email:  gbuchholz@walga.asn.au
Phone: +61 8 9213 2092

Gaby is responsible for providing administrative support to assist with the supply of effective and professional services to WALGA Employee Relations and their clients. Gaby is currently studying a bachelor degree at Curtin University of Technology majoring in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations.

Fun Fact: Gaby travels overseas whenever possible and likes origami.

Kate Moore
Senior Employee Relations Advisor
Email:  kmoore@walga.asn.au
Phone: +61 8 9213 2592

Kate provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector wide policy and strategy.

Kate has relevant experience as an employee relations solicitor with a national law firm and has also worked with executive teams across Australia and the Asia-Pacific in management consulting and coaching.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Justice (with Distinction) and a Master of Laws from Queensland University of Technology. Kate also holds a Graduate Diploma in Psychology from the University of New England.

Fun Fact: Kate is passionate about wellness and is a qualified personal trainer.

WALGA Employee Relations is always ready to assist Local Governments with any employee relations issues or enquiries. For assistance, please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.
 
Carla Loney
Employee Relations Advisor
Email:  cloney@walga.asn.au
Phone: +61 8 9213 2091

Carla provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector wide policy and strategy.

Carla has over nine years’ experience within the Local Government industry across Recruitment and Employee Relations.

Carla holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Notre Dame University majoring in Politics and Journalism and a Graduate Diploma from the University of Western Australia majoring in Human Resources and Industrial Relations. Carla is currently undertaking a Masters of Human Resources and Employee Relations at the University of Western Australia.

Fun Fact: Carla enjoys cooking and gardening in her spare time.
 
Kate Post
Employee Relations Advisor
Email:  kpost@walga.asn.au
Phone: +61 8 9213 2015

Kate provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector wide policy and strategy.

Kate has previous employee relations experience having worked at the Australian Nursing Federation for over three years before joining WALGA.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Human Resources Management) from Notre Dame University. 

Fun fact: Kate likes to keep up to date with social and current affairs around the world and has a keen interest in interior design.
 
Simon Barry
Employee Relations Advisor
Email:  sbarry@walga.asn.au
Phone: +61 8 9213 2052

Simon provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector-wide policy and strategy.

Simon Barry has degrees in Law, Political Science and Industrial Relations from the University of Western Australia.  He has over 10 years’ experience in the areas of workplace relations, corporate law and governance.  He has particular expertise in defending unfair dismissal and general protections claims.

Fun Fact: Simon is a long-suffering Fremantle Dockers fan who is starting to think that he will never see a Dockers’ premiership in his life-time.
 
Norelle Miotto
Employee Relations Advisor
Email:  nmiotto@walga.asn.au
Phone: +61 8 9213 2592

Norelle provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector wide policy and strategy.

Norelle has an extensive background as a Human Resources Advisor, having predominately worked in the mining sector providing advice on a wide range of employee relations issues.
 
Norelle holds a Bachelor of Business majoring in Human Resource Management from Central Queensland University and is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Industrial Relations through Charles Sturt University.

Fun Fact: Norelle spent two years living in Austria and Germany before studying and still speaks reasonably good German. She is originally from Queensland and has just moved to Perth with hubby after a 12 month sabbatical on a cattle station near Broome.

WALGA Employee Relations is always ready to assist Local Governments with any employee relations issues or enquiries. For assistance, please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.

Important information regarding Public Holidays and Christmas Shut Down over the Festive Season (17/2016)


It has recently come to light that the 2016 Public Holidays Sheet issued by WALGA in late 2015 contains an error concerning the Public Holiday for Christmas Day (Sunday, 25 December) and the Additional Day on Tuesday, 27 December, which was incorrectly labelled as a substitute day. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

In the Northern Territory, the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment prescribes that Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, the following Tuesday is also recognised as a public holiday . This means that both Sunday, 25 December and Tuesday, 27 December are public holidays.

Please download the updated 2016 Public Holiday Sheet here.

Further, as New Years’ Day will fall on a Sunday in 2017, Sunday, 1 January and Monday, 2 January are also both public holidays.

We also thought it would be a good time to remind Local Governments of their obligations regarding applicable penalty rates, close down of operations and whether employees need to take annual leave when rostered to work on public holidays which fall on a weekend.


1. Christmas Day, New Years’ Day and annual leave
Where an employee would ordinarily be rostered to work on:

  • Sunday, 25 December
  • Tuesday, 27 December, or
  • both 25 and 27 December
And:
  • Sunday, 1 January
  • Monday, 2 January, or
  • both 1 and 2 January

an employee is not required to take annual leave on these days if the Local Government closes down, as both of these days are public holidays.


2. Payment for work on Christmas Day
For Local Governments who apply the Local Government Industry Award 2010 ( LGIA), where an employee is required to work on either Sunday, 25 December or Tuesday, 27 December, they should be paid the public holiday penalty rate for work on either of those days.

Where an employee is required to work on both the Sunday (actual public holiday) and the Tuesday (observed public holiday), there is only an obligation to pay employees public holiday penalty rates for the observed public holiday. The obligation is contained in subclause 28.3 of the LGIA which is set out below:

“28.3 Where an employee is required to work on the observed public holiday they will be paid at the rate of double time and a half for the actual hours worked. An employee who works on an observed and actual public holiday will be paid the penalty rate for working on the observed public holiday, but not both.”

 
3. Payment for work on New Years’ Day 2017
The same principle outlined above will apply for New Years’ Day, Sunday 1 January 2017 and the New Years’ Day Additional Holiday, Monday 2 January 2017. That is, where an employee is required to work on either Sunday, 1 January or Monday, 2 January, they should be paid the public holiday penalty rate for work performed on either of those days. But, if an employee is required to work on both Sunday (actual public holiday) and Monday (observed public holiday), there is only an obligation to pay employees public holiday penalty rates for the observed public holiday.

 
4. Christmas Shut Down
Local Governments can require their employees to take annual leave as part of a close-down of its operations. However, Clause 25.5 of the LGIA prescribes that the Local Government must provide employees with four (4) weeks’ notice, if you are intending on closing down operations over the festive season.

Local Governments should note that there is no ability under the LGIA or Fair Work Act 2009 to force an employee to take leave without pay due to a close-down. This applies even when an employee does not have enough leave accrual to take annual leave during the shutdown.

If your Local Government is shutting down for the Christmas/New Year period, and there are employees with insufficient annual leave accruals, there is provision under Clause 25.9 of the LGIA to take annual leave in advance, by agreement between the employee and the Local Government.

The advice outlined above is specific to Local Governments that engage employees under the LGIA. Local Governments with employees covered by enterprise agreements will need to check the specific public holiday penalty provisions contained in their enterprise agreements. If an enterprise agreement does not have a clause similar to that provided for in the LGIA, it is likely that the public holiday penalty rate will apply to both the actual public holiday and the observed public holiday.

For further information email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.


Public Holiday Sheets (16/2016)

 
Please find links below to download the 2017 Public Holiday Information Sheet prepared by WALGA.
 
The Information Sheet contains information on Public Holidays that affect Local Governments in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
 
WA 2017 Public Holiday Information Sheet download
NT 2017 Public Holiday Information Sheet download
 
A printed copy of the Public Holiday Information Sheet will also be sent out next week by mail and addressed to payroll at your Local Government.
 
If you have any questions please contact a member of the WALGA Employee Relations unit on (08) 9213 2092 or email WALGA Employee Relations

Obesity and Dismissal: Guidance from the Fair Work Commission (15/2016)

 
A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission has upheld an employer’s right to dismiss an employee who, due to his weight, could not perform the inherent requirements of his role.
 
The employee, Mr Parahi, was employed by Paramalat Australia Ltd as a Cool Room Operator. His role included forklift driving duties.
 
In February 2014, Mr Parahi and other employees completed a manual handling hazard and risk assessment conducted by an external occupational therapist. Mr Parahi was considered to have a medium to high risk assessment, raising concern that he may not be able to safely and competently perform his role.
 
After the assessment in February 2014 Mr Parahi attended various other appointments and assessments. The primary issue concerning Mr Parahi’s fitness was his weight. At an assessment in May 2014 Mr Parahi’s weight was 165kg, which precluded him from operating forklifts due to the forklifts’ maximum weight safety ratings.
 
In June 2014, Mr Parahi was stood down and directed to prove his fitness for duty before returning to work. Mr Parahi was invited to consult with his treating doctor and provide a treatment plan on how he would achieve the level of fitness required to carry out the requirements of his role.
 
When the occupational physician conducted a second assessment of Mr Parahi in February 2015, his weight had increased from 165kg to 175kg. Further, a report from a cardiologist indicated that Mr Parahi had sleep apnoea that may pose a problem with operating mobile machinery.
 
Mr Parahi was subsequently asked to provide any information that may be relevant to the decision concerning his future employment, and invited to attend a meeting on 26 May 2015. Mr Parahi failed to attend the meeting. He was dismissed later that day.
 
In response to his termination Mr Parahi filed an application for unfair dismissal against his employer in the Fair Work Commission. In her decision, Commissioner McKenna held that the employer had a valid reason to terminate Mr Parahi’s employment on the basis he was unable to safely undertake the inherent requirements of his role. The Commissioner also found that Mr Parahi had been afforded procedural fairness, and that he “inadvisedly” chose not to attend the meeting on 26 May 2015.
 
At the time of his dismissal Mr Parahi was seeking the release of superannuation funds to undergo surgery to treat his obesity. Although Mr Parahi did undergo surgery after the dismissal and shed 20 kg (with the expectation of losing more weight in the near future), Commissioner McKenna held that the employer was reasonably entitled to act on the information such as was available to it as of 26 May 2015 when the dismissal was effected.
 
The decision can be viewed here: Ranui Parahi v Parmalat Australia Ltd [2015] FWC 7191.
 
The decision highlights that an employee’s weight may have a bearing on their fitness for work and that it may ultimately provide grounds for dismissal, provided the employee’s weight prevents them from performing the inherent requirements of their role and the employer complies with their obligations of procedural fairness. However, a key consideration for an employer is how it supports the health and workplace wellness of its employees. Western Australian Local Governments can contact LGIS on 9483 8888 or at admin@lgiswa.com.au to discuss their approach to employee health and wellness.
 
WALGA is always ready to assist Local Governments with providing tailored advice on assessing an employee’s fitness for work and identifying options where fitness for work is an issue. For assistance, please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.

Mental Health Week 2016 (14/2016)

 
The statistics regarding mental health indicate that it is becoming more prevalent in the workplace. Indeed, at any given time, one in five employees are likely to be experiencing a mental health condition.

People with a mental health condition often confront barriers as a direct result of their illness. Cognitive and communication impairments may pose challenges, while stigma and discriminatory attitudes can be worse than the illness itself. 

Discrimination and stigma can create barriers to recovery for people with mental illness and affect them in their employment. People often report that fear of stigma and discrimination is a key reason for not seeking help early.

Changing perceptions about mental illness can go a long way towards breaking down some of the barriers that stigma and discrimination creates.

This year, the Western Australian Association for Mental Health is again using the Act-Belong-Commit message with a focus on suicide prevention as the official theme for Mental Health Week 2016.

Mental Health Week 2016 will be held between October 8 to 15, with World Mental Health Day taking place on 10 October 2016.

The Shire of Gnowangerup is actively getting involved in Mental Health Week by holding the Gnowangerup Shire Turn Blue For a Day Event. Staff and Councillors will be raising awareness about the ways to improve individual mental health, and seek help and support for carers of people with mental health issues.

Some other information about mental health is that:

  • Untreated depression results in over 6 million working days lost each year; and
  • Research by Price Waterhouse Coppers has concluded that $2.30 is the average return on investment for every $1 invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace.
That is a mounting body of evidence to suggest that all organisations should consider how they approach mental health in the workplace. Western Australian Local Governments can contact LGIS to discuss strategies to support their employees and enhance their mental wellbeing. LGIS can be contacted through their website, by calling 9483 8888 or emailing admin@lgiswa.com.au.

Other resources for organisations considering how they approach mental health in the workplace are available at the following links:

If you have any questions please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.

Important Changes to the Local Government Industry Award 2010 – Time off instead of payment for overtime. (13/2016)

 
On 22 August 2016, the Fair Work Commission handed down a determination in relation to time off instead of payment for overtime as part of the four year Modern Award Review. The determination applies to the Local Government Industry Award 2010.

The determination primarily relates to the insertion of a new clause relating to time off instead of payment for overtime and a schedule facilitating an agreement between an employer and employee.

The determination came into operation on 22 August 2016 but does not take effect until the start of the first full pay period that starts on or after 22 August 2016.

A copy of the determination, which outlines the wording of the new award clause and Schedule can be found here.

An updated version of the Local Government Industry Award 2010 will be sent out as soon as it is released by the Fair Work Commission.

If you have any questions relating to these changes or the four year modern award review process please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.
 

Vehicle Values Reassessed for 2016 (12/2016)


The Royal Automobile Club of WA (RAC) has released the vehicle running costs for 2016.

WALGA Employee Relations have compiled the data in the table and averaged the value based on vehicle category and included the type of use.

You can download this table by clicking here

The full assumptions contained within the calculations can be obtained from WALGA Employee Relations or by visiting the RAC website.

Please note that the values are based on the running cost of a particular vehicle category and do not take into account the private benefit value to an individual employee or any fringe benefits tax implications.
 
If you have any questions please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.

Have your say on the WHS Regulations – Local Government Sector Consultation (11/2016)

 
Worksafe recently released the Work Health and Safety Regulations for Western Australia (Discussion Paper).
 
The Discussion Paper includes 135 recommendations to amend the Model Workplace Health and Safety Regulations with a view to minimising prescription and keeping the burden of compliance at an acceptable level.
 
Where evidence has not been provided that new requirements will improve safety and health outcomes in Western Australia, those provisions have been amended to more closely align with the current requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.
 
WALGA is seeking input and feedback from the Local Government sector on the recommendations provided in the Discussion Paper to assist in informing a submission to Worksafe.
 
If you are interested in having your say on the Discussion Paper, please provide any feedback or suggested recommendations via email to employeerelations@walga.asn.au by Wednesday, 24 August.

Important Changes to the Local Government Industry Award 2010 – Annual Leave (10/2016)

 
On Friday 29 July 2016, the Fair Work Commission handed down a determination in relation to annual leave as part of the four year Modern Award Review. The determination applies to the Local Government Industry Award 2010.

The determination relates to the insertion and amendment of the following clauses relating to annual leave:

25.6 Excessive leave accruals: general provision

An amendment to define excessive annual leave as being 10 weeks for shift workers, with eight weeks for other employees.  

25.7 Excessive leave accruals: direction by employer that leave be taken

Additional and amended requirements when an employer is seeking to direct an employee to take excessive annual leave. Employees must retain a balance of six weeks annual leave. An employer must not require an employee to takes periods of leave for less than one week. An employee may request to take a different period of leave from the direction being given.

25.8 Excessive leave accruals: request by employee for leave

A new provision providing for an employee to request taking a period of annual leave when agreement has not been reached with the employer regarding excessive annual leave accruals.  

25.9 Annual leave in advance

An amended provision for taking annual leave in advance, which provides for additional requirements relating to a signed agreement and deduction of monies owed on termination. 

25.10 Cashing out of annual leave

A new provision which allows for the cashing out of annual leave, to a maximum of two weeks in a 12 month period, with the employee retaining a balance of at least four weeks annual leave.
 
All of these clauses came in to effect on Friday, 29 July 2016.

A copy of the determination, which outlines the wording of the new and amended award provisions, can be found here.

An updated version of the Local Government Industry Award 2010 will be sent out as soon as it is released by the Fair Work Commission.

If you have any questions relating to these changes or the four year modern award review process please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.

State Awards Wage Schedules


Please find the wage schedule’s for the Local Government Officers’ (Western Australia) Interim Award 2011 here and the Municipal Employees (Western Australia) Interim Award 2011 here.
 
These updates include increases to the minimum rates and expense related allowances. The updates came into effect from 1 July 2016. Local Governments who use the state awards are requested to please replace your existing wage schedule with the updated wage schedule.

WALGA Employee Relations subscribers will be promptly notified of any further changes to the state awards.  

A copy of the wage schedule will also be sent out in the near future by mail and addressed to payroll at your Local Government.

If you require updated copies of the awards or have any other queries, please email WALGA Employee Relations or call (08) 9213 2052.

Updated Local Government Industry Award 2010 Wage Schedule (9/2016)


Please find the updated wage schedule for the Local Government Industry Award 2010 ( the LGIA) prepared by WALGA Employee Relations here

These updates include increases to the minimum rates and expense related allowances. The updates come into effect from 1 July 2016. Local Governments who use the LGIA are requested to please replace your existing wage schedule with the updated wage schedule.

WALGA Employee Relations subscribers will be promptly notified of any further changes to the LGIA.  
A copy of the wage schedule will also be sent out in the near future by mail and addressed to payroll at your Local Government.

If you have any questions please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092

Save the Date – WALGA Local Government – People and Culture Seminar 2016 (8/2016)


Date:  Friday, 2 September
Venue: Hyatt Regency Perth, 99 Adelaide Terrace, Perth WA 6000
Time: Arrival 8.00am for 8.30am start – 5.00pm close

The WALGA Governance and Organisational Services team are excited to announce an annual Seminar will be held with the aim of engaging with Local Government officers from a range of disciplines, and at a range of organisational levels.

Topics at this years’ seminar will include:

  • State of The Nation: Update on Local Government Sector issues nationally and state-wide
  • Procedural Fairness and Unfair Dismissal
  • Changes in the Reporting of Misconduct
  • Change Management and creating a resilient workforce
  • Technology in the Workplace

We will also have a presenter touching on the Jurisdictional Dilemma (State vs Federal system employers) which Local Governments in WA are faced with on an ongoing basis as well as a speaker to discuss Succession Planning and the Ageing Workforce.

Human Resource practitioners, Governance, Training and Recruitment officers, Line Managers, CEO’s and Senior Staff of all Local Governments and Associate Members are invited to attend the WA Local Government Seminar on Friday 2 nd September 2016.

This full day Seminar offers a practical guide to contemporary and future issues within the Local Government sector and will finish with a sundowner.

Registration details will be sent out in the near future. 
 
We look forward to seeing you on the day.

For more information please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.

2016 Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission Wage Increase (7/2016)


This update is for the attention of Local Government members who operate under the Western Australian Industrial Relations jurisdiction.  

On 10 June 2016 the WAIRC issued a decision increasing the WA Minimum Wage by $13.00 per week. 

This means that the WA Minimum Wage will increase from $679.90 per week to $692.90 per week from 1 July 2016. 

All state award wage rates will also increase by $13.00 per week, including Local Governments who apply the Local Government Officers (Western Australia) Interim Award 2011 and the Municipal Employees (Western Australia) Interim Award 2011. 

The increase will apply only to employees who are paid the award wage, as any wage paid above the award wage is able to be used to offset the increase.

WALGA Employee Relations will release revised wage schedules to subscribers in the near future.

For more information please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092
 

Update on the WALGA ER Unit (6/2016)


The WALGA Employee Relations unit has injected some talented advisors into the service within the past 12 months. Coupled with our existing unit members, we have assembled a professional and hard-working unit to continue to provide a prompt and professional employee relations services to all our subscribers.

Our Employee Relations unit currently consists of eight professionals, including the Executive Manager of Governance and Organisational Services, the Employee Relations Manager, five Employee Relations Advisors and the Employee Relations Support Officer.

One of our Employee Relations Advisors, Davina Hunter, has recently embarked on 12 months unpaid leave to undertake a voluntary role as a legal advisor in Samoa.

Continue reading to find out some information about each of our unit members:


Tony Brown

Executive Manager of Governance & Organisational Services

Email: tbrown@walga.asn.au

Phone: +61 8 9213 2051

Tony Brown is the Executive Manager of WALGA Governance & Organisational Services, which comprises of the following WALGA work units:

  • Employee Relations
  • Training
  • Governance Advice
  • Recruitment
  • Local Government Reform & Regional Co-operation
  • Association Governance (WALGA Zones/State Council)

Tony has over 30 years’ experience in the Local Government sector including roles in the Finance, Administration and Community Services portfolios together with experience as a Chief Executive Officer at the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley. The majority of Tony’s appointments have been in the country regions, however, he has worked at two metropolitan Local Governments. Tony’s current position is Executive Manager Governance & Organisational Services with WALGA, a position he has held since October 2006.

In addition to Local Government sector experience, Tony has had experience in owning and operating two businesses in the hospitality sector.

Fun Fact: Tony Brown has been a Mango, Paw Paw and Asparagus farmer whilst living in Kununurra.
 

Scott Roffey

Employee Relations Manager

Email: sroffey@walga.asn.au

Phone: +61 8 9213 2014

Scott has considerable experience in industrial relations and employment law. He gained much of his knowledge of workplace relations and legal training through his time at the Workplace Authority (now Fair Work Ombudsman) during which he worked as a Workplace Info Line Advisor and a Legal Officer. He also has over six years' experience in the Local Government sector having worked as an Employee Relations Advisor with WALGA before assuming the role as Employee Relations Manager.

Scott has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Legal Studies and a Graduate Bachelor of Laws degree. He has completed the Practical Legal Training Program with the College of Law making him eligible to be admitted as a lawyer to the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Fun fact: Scott used to be relatively fluent in Japanese and has a large collection of beer coasters.
 

Gaby Buchholz

Employee Relations Support Officer

Email: gbuchholz@walga.asn.au

Phone: +61 8 9213 2092

Gaby is responsible for providing administrative support to assist with the supply of effective and professional services to WALGA Employee Relations and their clients. Gaby is currently studying a bachelor degree at Curtin University of Technology majoring in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations.

Fun Fact: Gaby travels overseas whenever possible and likes origami.
 

Carla Loney

Employee Relations Advisor

Email: cloney@walga.asn.au

Phone: +61 8 9213 2091

Carla provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector wide policy and strategy.

Carla has over nine years’ experience within the Local Government industry across Recruitment and Employee Relations.

Carla holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Notre Dame University majoring in Politics and Journalism and a Graduate Diploma from the University of Western Australia majoring in Human Resources and Industrial Relations. Carla is currently undertaking a Masters of Human Resources and Employee Relations at the University of Western Australia.

Fun Fact: Carla enjoys cooking and gardening in her spare time.
 

Kate Post

Employee Relations Advisor

Email: kpost@walga.asn.au

Phone: +61 8 9213 2015

Kate provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector wide policy and strategy.

Kate has previous employee relations experience having worked at the Australian Nursing Federation for over three years before joining WALGA.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Human Resources Management) from Notre Dame University. 

Fun fact: Kate likes to keep up to date with social and current affairs around the world and has a keen interest in interior design.
 

Conor Fahey

Employee Relations Advisor

Email: cfahey@walga.asn.au

Phone: +61 8 9213 2052

Conor provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector-wide policy and strategy.

Conor holds over six years relevant industrial relations and employment law experience from his previous roles as an Employment Lawyer with a national law firm, and a Workplace Relations Advisor with a national employer association.

Conor holds a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) from Monash University, as well as a Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in Human Resources and Industrial Relations) and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Western Australia. Conor also holds a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Laws, and is admitted to practice as a solicitor in Western Australia. 

Fun Fact: Conor is a very keen surfer and open water swimmer.
 

Kate Moore

Employee Relations Advisor

Email: kmoore@walga.asn.au

Phone: +61 8 9213 2592

Kate provides employee relations advocacy, negotiation and advisory support to clients as well as supporting the Employee Relations Manager with research on sector wide policy and strategy.

Kate has relevant experience as an employee relations solicitor with a national law firm and has also worked with executive teams across Australia and the Asia-Pacific in management consulting and coaching.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Justice (with Distinction) and a Master of Laws from Queensland University of Technology. Kate also holds a Graduate Diploma in Psychology from the University of New England.

Fun Fact: Kate is passionate about wellness and is a qualified personal trainer.

WALGA Employee Relations is always ready to assist Local Governments with any employee relations issues or enquiries. For assistance, please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.
 

2016 Fair Work Commission Wage Increase (5/2016)


The Fair Work Commission's Expert Panel has increased award minimum rates of pay by 2.4%, lifting the national minimum wage by $15.80 per week. This percentage increase will come into operation on 1 July 2016.

The decision lifts the federal weekly minimum wage to $672.70 ($17.70 an hour).

This increase will need to be provided by employers who apply the minimum rates of the Local Government Industry Award 2010 or other federal modern awards and by those employers who have federal enterprise agreements that incorporate increases to modern award rates of pay.

Employers who have federal enterprise agreements that have set increases to pay rates will not need to apply this increase.

WALGA Employee Relations will release a revised Local Government Industry Award wage schedule to subscribers in the near future.

For more information please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 9213 2092.
 

Right of Entry to Hold Discussions (4/2016)

 
WALGA Employee Relations regularly receives enquiries from Local Governments about their rights when dealing with union officials who wish to enter their workplaces to hold meetings or discussions with employees. To assist with collaboration and minimal disruption we have prepared the following information to remind Local Governments of the legislative requirements for union right of entry in these circumstances.
 
Before a union official enters the workplace

Union officials do not have an automatic right to enter a Local Government’s workplace. A union official has the right to enter premises to hold discussions with members or prospective members of that union, if the union official:
  • holds a valid and current right of entry permit; and
  • has provided written notice (which contains the details below) at least 24 hours, but no more than 14 days, in advance of their visit.
Want to know if a union official has a current valid permit or any permit at all before letting them into the workplace? You can either ask the official to produce a valid permit or carry out your own search on the Fair Work Commission’s website.
 
The Fair Work Act 2009 (Act) requires that the following information must be provided in the written notice given by the union official for entry to hold discussions:
  • identify the premises that are proposed to be entered;
  • identify the day or days of entry;
  • identify the union that the permit holder belongs to;
  • identify the provision of the Act that authorises the entry;
  • contain a declaration by the permit holder that the permit holder's union is entitled to represent the industrial interests of an employee who performs work on the premises; and 
  • specify the provision of the union’s rules that entitles them to represent the employee.
  • Rights and obligations when a union official is in the workplace
A union official has specific obligations while in the workplace, including to:
  • enter only during working hours;
  • not hold discussions with employees other than during mealtimes or other breaks;
  • comply with the Local Government’s reasonable requests about occupational health and safety requirements, the rooms or areas they may use on the site for holding discussions or interviews and the route they should take to access the particular room or area;
  • not intentionally hinder or obstruct any person, or otherwise act in an improper manner when exercising or seeking to exercise their rights; and
  • not misrepresent the authority granted to them under the Act.
 Similarly, a Local Government must not:
  • refuse or unduly delay entry to a permit holder entitled to enter the premises;
  • intentionally hinder or obstruct a permit holder who is exercising their right of entry powers; or
  • misrepresent themselves by intentionally or recklessly giving the impression they are authorised to do things they are not authorised to do.
If your Local Government receives an approach by a union to hold discussions that is outside these requirements or you have concerns about a union’s request to enter the workplace, email WALGA Employee Relations or call (08) 9213 2092.


We need your help to survey the WALGA Remuneration Survey! (3/2016)

 
As per alert 28/2015 that was sent out in late 2015, WALGA is actively working to review the Local Government Remuneration Survey Report. We want to ensure that the Report collects the right data and presents the data in a way that benefits Local Governments.  
 
We have put together a short survey asking for your feedback on the Local Government Remuneration Survey Report and how we can improve it to better serve the needs of the Local Government sector.
 
The survey consists of questions about the information collected by the Remuneration Survey, how the information is displayed and how Local Governments use the Remuneration Survey Report.
 
We strongly encourage all Local Governments and Regional Councils to provide feedback, regardless of whether you have previously participated in the Survey.
 
Delivery of the WALGA Remuneration Survey for 2016

Due to the review of the Local Government Remuneration Survey Report, unfortunately WALGA will not be releasing a Report in 2016 as the collection of data and the production of a Report takes in excess of six months. We will however endeavour to send out the Survey to all potential participants towards the end of the year, with a view to publishing a Report in early 2017. Please note that these time frames may change if we receive feedback from you that you would benefit from receiving the Report at a different time of year.
 
If you have any questions about this survey or the Report, please contact a member of the WALGA Employee Relations team on (08) 9213 2092 or email WALGA Employee Relations.


The Increasing Focus on Enterprise Agreements (2/2016)

 
WALGA Employee Relations have noticed an increasing trend where proposed enterprise agreements (EA) are being rejected by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) because of employer failures to meet the legislative requirements relating to notices of employee representational rights (NERR) requirements, failure to meet strict legislative timeframes or where the better off overall test is not being met.
 
The consequence of the FWC rejecting a proposed EA is that employers are often required to go back to the first stages of the bargaining process. This process may require that the employer reissue their NERR and abide by strict legislative timeframes for progressing a proposed EA to be voted on by employees again.
 
There has also been increasing requests from the FWC for employers to provide undertakings, primarily where the FWC is concerned that a clause in the proposed EA may breach the National Employment Standards (NES).
 
The impact of the FWC triage process
 
In May 2014, the Fair Work Commission (the FWC) launched their Future Directions 2014-15 – Continuing the Change Program, a publication setting out 30 initiatives that the Commission intended to implement over a two year period. One of these initiatives was a review of the enterprise agreements application process.
 
Under the initiative, enterprise agreements lodged for approval went through a triage process where they were assigned to a team of specially trained administrative staff to ensure compliance with each of the statutory obligations. The triage process intended to assist a FWC member in making a determination on a proposed EA.
 
An independent review of the triage process concluded that the triage process had resulted in consistent treatment of proposed EA’s and improved approval timeframes. As a result, the FWC has phased in an extended triage process with the view to having approximately 90% of all EA approval applications dealt with under the triage process from February 2016.
 
The triage process is likely to mean that proposed EA’s will continue to be reviewed more exhaustively than under previous approval models. This means that the need for employers to diligently follow legislative requirements and timeframes will be very important in any EA negotiation process.
 
Content and form requirements of the NERR

In a number of case outcomes, the FWC has been very strict in applying the content and form requirements of the NERR.

Section s174 (1A) of the Fair Work Act (FW Act) effectively provides that a NERR must not contain any other content other than that prescribed by the Fair Work Regulations and must be in the form prescribed by the regulations.

A FWC full bench recently rejected a private schools proposed enterprise agreement because it failed to comply with section 174(1A) of the FW Act when it provided employees with a one-page NERR that incorporated a form that asked employees to nominate a bargaining representative.

An email sent by the school which informed its employees that "At the bottom of that notice there is a nomination form..." had led the Deputy President to conclude that the nomination form was a part of the NERR in the original decision.

On appeal, the FWC full bench stated that "We are satisfied that the notice of employees' representational rights has a nomination form attached to it in a manner prohibited by the Act," and rejected the appeal of the private school.

In another recent case outcome, a stevedoring company had their EA rejected for a second time due to a seemingly trivial failure to comply with the content and form requirements of the NERR. In this instance the prohibited departure was in printing the NERR on a company letterhead. The FWC, in its decision to reject the agreement, indicated that there is "simply no capacity to depart from the form and content of the notice template provided in the regulations" and that the Commission had no discretion to rectify what was superficially a "minor departure" from the prescribed content.

Given these case outcomes, WALGA Employee Relations recommends that the NERR should be drafted strictly in line with the legislative requirements and preferably sent out or provided in hardcopy to employees without any other documents attached.  
 
Please note that the current Form 17 that must be completed by an employer when lodging a proposed EA with the FWC only requires that an employer provide a copy of the NERR. It does not require an employer to provide a covering letter or email which may have also been sent.
 
WALGA Employee Relations is available to assist you to navigate the processes relating to negotiating an EA including determining the scope of your proposed EA, bargaining and putting a proposed EA to vote. We can also assist to review your NERR before you send them out to your employees.
 
The FWC guide on Notices of employee representational rights can be found here.

Please email WALGA Employee Relations or call (08) 9213 2092 if you have any queries.


IMPORTANT UPDATE - 4 Year Review of the Local Government Industry Award 2010 (1/2016)


The Fair Work Commission is currently undertaking a review of all modern awards including the Local Government Industry Award 2010 (Award).

On 23 December 2015, the Fair Work Commission handed down a Determination varying the Award in relation to the following items:

Clause 3.1 – Amending the definition of ‘Recreations Centres’ to include golf courses.
 
Clause 9.7 – Inserting a clause providing for five days’ paid ‘Dispute Resolution Training Leave’.

Clause 24.2(b) – Amending the clause relating to overtime. Double time will now be effective from midday Saturday.

This Determination takes effect at the start of the first full pay period on or after 23 December 2015. 

These changes will affect all Local Governments who apply the Award, or incorporate the Award into an enterprise agreement.

Please ensure this information is passed on to relevant employees at your Local Government.

A copy of the Determination can be found here.

An updated copy of the Award can be found here.

Please note that the review of the Award is ongoing and WALGA Employee Relations will inform Local Governments as decisions are handed down. 
 
Please email WALGA Employee Relations or call (08) 9213 2092 if you have any queries.