Sydney Schedule

Thursday 14 November 2019


Registration opens


Opening remarks from chairperson

Joe Murphy, Managing Director – National Workplace, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors


Mental healthdisability and discrimination in the workplace

Employers should exercise caution when managing and terminating employees with mental illness and disabilitiesIf you terminate an employee because of manifestations of their mental disability, you could fall foul of the Fair Work Act.

  • Termination due to manifestations of disabilities – lessons fromRobinson v Western Union Business Solutions (Australia) Pty Ltd [2018]
  • Terminating an employee with long term absences related to mental health issues
  • Adverse action and discrimination provisions in section 351 of the Fair Work Act
  • When is a lack of capacity considered to be a manifestation of a mental disability?
  • Collecting independent medical information relating to fitness for work and inherent requirements of their role

Maree Skinner, Partner, Maddocks


New whistleblower protections for employees – what you need to know

single, strengthened whistleblower protection regime has been passed by Federal Parliament, expanding and clarifying the prohibition against victimisation of whistleblowers.

  • Overview of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2018 (Cth)
  • Tips for drafting company whistleblowing policies
  • Step by step guide to dealing with whistleblower complaints
  • Investigating protected disclosures in accordance with the new laws
  • What constitutes unlawful conduct under the new laws?
  • Confidentiality and anonymity requirements relating to whistleblower identity

Fay Calderone, Partner, Hall & Wilcox


Morning refreshment break


Dealing with spiteful and vexatious employee claims

All too often, aggrieved employees lodge claims purely to spite their employers and those employers are forced to invest time and resources in conciliating or settling. How can you prevent vexatious claims from going too far?

Sean Melbourne, Head of Employment Law and Director, Source Legal 


Drafting and enforcing restraints of trade for employees and contractors

Restraint clauses should be carefully drafted to ensure their enforceabilitySeveral recent cases have shed light on the way that the courts are interpreting trade restraints between employers, contractors and employees.

  • Solicitation of clients and customers - Commsupport Pty Ltd v Mulligan & Mirow
  • When will a restraint relating to customer connections be upheld?
  • Quantum Service and Logistics Pty Ltd v Schenker Australia Pty Ltd – when employers agree not to poach each other’s employees?
  • Can contractors be bound by restraints of trade? Isaac v Dargan Financial Pty Ltd [ 2018] 
  • How courts will consider restraint of trade covenants in contractor agreements, and the circumstances in which they are likely to enforce them

Jim Doyle, Partner, Doyles Construction Lawyers 


Networking lunch


Unfair dismissal: extreme misconduct, procedural requirements and conflicts of interest

This session will discuss the practical lessons that can be drawn from several recent unfair dismissal cases, involving salary caps, awards, misconduct and conflicts of interest.

  • When are highly paid employees protected from unfair dismissal?  Hayden Thomas v Hanseatic Marine Engineering Pty Ltd T/A Silver Yachts [2019]  
  • When will the relevant classification under the award be found to apply to a highly paid employee
  • When does extreme misconduct outweigh procedural flaws -  JacksonMacumber v Ace Bottle Printers Pty Ltd [2019]
  • Unfair dismissal in the context of conflicts of interest - Matthew Boulton v Telstra Corporation Limited [2019]

Shivchand Jhinku, Executive Counsel, Herbert Smith Freehills 


Keeping it casual – when is casual employment really casual?

The last two years have witnessed upheaval in casual employment.Following the Skene decision, employers should carefully consider the proper classification of employees from the outset and constantly monitor their casual workforce.

  • Casual conversion clause – what are the current employer obligations?
  • How do the courts define casual employment?
  • When is a casual employee entitled to benefits such as annual leave under the NES or industrial instruments?
  • WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene decision – when is a casual employee really a permanent employee?
  • When can employers refuse requests from casual workers on reasonable business grounds?

Gareth Jolly, Partner, MinterEllison 


Afternoon refreshment break


PANEL: Preventing and mitigating sexual harassment and assault in the workplace

Sexual harassment remains a significant problem in Australian workplaces, despite laws being in place for more than 30 years and the progress made by the #MeToo movement.This session will discuss the legal and cultural aspects of sexual harassment with a view to creating positive, fair and inclusive workplaces. 

  • When is  an employer vicariously liable for sexual harassment and assault - Kerkofs v Abdallah (Human Rights) [2019] 
  • How to investigate sexual harassment and assault claims
  • When should individuals continue working alongside their alleged perpetrators?
  • Interpreting victim defense mechanismsinvestigationshumour, complacency or freezing 
  • How should employers handle and follow up unsubstantiated sexual harassment claims?
  • Moving away from a strict legal reading of sexual harassment and towards a broader conversation about sexually harassing and culture
  • Championing a positive, safe, inclusive and respectful workplace culture


Joe Murphy, Managing Director – National Workplace, Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors 


Fay Calderone, Partner, Hall and Wilcox 

Kathie Melocco, Founder, World of Work 


Conference concludes

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