Melbourne Schedule

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Tuesday 14 November 2017



Registration opens


Welcoming remarks from the Chairperson

Joe Murphy, Director, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors

9:00am Adverse action: Clarifying areas of ambiguity and complexity

General protections continue to present considerable risks for employers. This session will discuss the ramifications of several recent court decisions relating to adverse action.  

  • What is the definition of a workplace right?
  • How have the courts been approaching general protections claims?
  • Can union representatives encourage unlawful adverse action? Implications of Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Moses & Ors
  • Can a secondment constitute adverse action? - McJannet v SBS [2016]
  • What is considered a ‘termination’ under adverse action laws - Klein v Australian Baseball League Pty Ltd [2016]

Ruth Thevathasan, Senior Associate, Clayton Utz

9:45am Mental health: Managing stress leave during the disciplinary process   

When an employee applies for stress leave during disciplinary proceedings, HR professionals should tread carefully to avoid legal risks.

  • What is the legal definition of work-related mental stress?
  • General guidelines for dealing with employees who take stress leave during disciplinary proceedings
  • What can you legally do if you think that employee stress leave is not genuine?
  • What medical information can employers request of employees who take stress leave?
  • Can you proceed with disciplinary proceedings in writing if the employer refuses to attend disciplinary meetings?

Cathryn Prowse, Partner, Colin Biggers & Paisley 



Morning refreshment break

11:00am Workplace bullying: How to deal with bullying complaints made during disciplinary proceedings

The subjectivity of bullying claims makes them notoriously difficult to handle. When employees lodge anti-bullying applications to slow or halt disciplinary action, the situation becomes very complicated.

  • How should you treat an employee’s bullying complaint if it is made during a disciplinary process? Ramifications of Lynette Bayley [2017]
  • Should a workplace investigation continue alongside the investigation of a bullying complaint?
  • How do the states differ in their treatment of bullying cases?
  • How to ensure that a workplace investigation does not, in itself, constitute bullying

Tony Pick, Senior Associate, Norton Rose Fulbright

11:45am Discipline and unfair dismissal: Overview of recent Fair Work Commission decisions

Unfair dismissal is still one of the most common legal claims in today’s workplace. This session will discuss recent Fair Work Commission cases and the lessons for employers in each case.

  • How long can you take before issuing a warning? Ms Belinda Brown v Park Beach Bowling Club Limited; Ms Kelly Walcot and Mr Grant Walden [2017]
  • What is a "valid reason for dismissal"? – ramifications Mary Conelius v Southern Suburbs Football Club Inc [2017]
  • What constitutes objective evidence to establish a "valid reason for dismissal"? Colby Somogyi v LED Technologies Pty Ltd [2017]
  • What are the consultation obligations in cases of redundancy? - Laura Wrzoskiewicz and Easy Payroll Perth Pty Limited [2017]
  • Due process issues to consider during dismissal - John Finnegan v Komatsu Forklift Australia Pty Ltd [2017]

Ross Jackson, Partner, Maddocks


Networking lunch


PANEL DISCUSSION: Perspectives on enterprise agreements and good faith bargaining  

Employers are experiencing ongoing difficulties in negotiating and gaining approval for enterprise agreements. Is enterprise bargaining still a worthwhile exercise in today’s environment?

  • Lessons from the WorkPac and CFMEU case - is there an obligation on the bargaining representatives to reach agreement?
  • How many meetings should you hold to satisfy good faith bargaining requirements?
  • How is the Fair Work Commission applying the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) test?
  • Ramifications of SDAEA v Beechworth Bakery [2017]
  • Is it worthwhile even negotiating agreements with unions at the present time?

Lisa Anaf, Partner, Mills Oakley

Jane Harvey, Partner, Ashurst

John Tuck, Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Anthony Wood, Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills

Joe Murphy, Director, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors

2:00pm Migration law – update on 457 visas 

In April and July this year, the government announced sweeping reforms to the employer sponsored skilled migration program. In March 2018, more changes will take place with the introduction of the Temporary Skill Shortage visa. In this session, we look at the implications for HR departments and will cover:

  • Timeline of the 457 / ENS reforms and their ramifications for employers
  • How to obtain business sponsorship accreditation
  • Clarifying employer's "training benchmark" criteria and obligations against pre and post 1 July 2017 rules
  • Changes to employer sponsored permanent residence and how they impact upon existing 457 visa holders
  • What have businesses being doing to manage the changes to date and planning for introduction to the TSS visa?

Chris Spentzaris, Partner, Fragomen
Rupert Timms, Special Counsel, Fragomen


Afternoon refreshment break

3:00pm Interactive workshop: Conducting effective workplace investigations

Investigating allegations in the workplace requires good judgement, professionalism and a solid understanding of the concepts of procedural fairness. In this interactive session, you will be taken through practical exercises to fine tune your investigative skills.

  • How to ensure that your investigation is procedurally fair 
  • What evidence should be gathered during the investigation?
  • Practical tips for interviewing complainants, respondents and witnesses
  • How to deal with conflicting witness evidence

Joelle Grover, Partner, MinterEllison

3:45pm Accessorial liability for HR professionals: What is your personal liability?

With increasing penalties for non-compliance and a widening net of culpability, HR professionals can be held personally liable for breaches of the Fair Work Act.

  • Overview of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017
  • What constitutes a "serious contravention" under the Bill?
  • What should you do if you are forced into situations at work where your HR advice is ignored?
  • At what point should an HR professional resign?
  • Implications of Fair Work Ombudsman v Blue Impression Pty Ltd & Ors

Kathy Dalton, Partner, DLA Piper 


Conference concludes



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