Perth Schedule

Thursday 30 November 2017



Registration opens


Welcoming remarks from the Chairperson

Mark Cox, Director, MDC Legal

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]

Anna Casellas, Partner, 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?

Greg McCann, 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

Samantha Maddern, Partner, 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]

Renae Harding, Partner, Jackson McDonald


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?

Nicholas Ellery, Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Rob Lilburne, Partner, Ashurst

Anthony Longland, Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills

James Parkinson, Senior Associate, K&L Gates

Mark Cox, Director, MDC Legal

2:00pm Migration law – update on 457 visas 

Earlier this year, the government announced sweeping changes to the employer sponsored skilled migration program. As further details emerge, we look at the implications for HR departments.

  • Timeline of reforms and their ramifications on HR departments across Australia
  • How will the Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) change in the future?
  • How is the department applying the ‘caveats’ that restrict the usage of certain occupations?
  • What are the time frames and details of labour market testing requirements?

Alisdair Putt, Principal, Putt Legal


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

Craig Boyle, 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

Leanne Nickels, Partner, DLA Piper 


Conference concludes



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