Latest News In Workplace Law
*Minimum wage increase* effective July 1
The Fair Work Commission has granted a 3.0% minimum wage increase effective from the 1 July 2019. The national increase applies to all employees that calculate their pay rates from the national minimum wage (NMW) or by an applicable modern award. Around 2.2 million employees or 21% of all employees have their wages set by the NMW or an award and will be directly affected by this decision.
The new NMW for non award employees will be $740.80 per week, or $19.49 per hour. This amounts to an increase of $21.60 per week to the weekly rate. The increase does not affect employees who already get paid more than the new minimum wage.
Annual Wage Review 2018-19  FWCFB 3500
Fruit farmer fined almost $150,000 for underpayment of wages
Zucco Farming Pty Ltd (Zucco), which conducts a stone fruit farm in Woorinen, Victoria has been fined $144,000 for underpaying two visa-holder fruit pickers. Zucco also attempted to deceive Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) inspectors by ‘knowingly making use of false or misleading entries in respect of the rate of remuneration paid to the employees.’ Federal Circuit Court judge Anthony Kelly fined Zucco and its sole director $120,000 and $24,000 respectively.
Fair Work Ombudsman v Zucco Farming Pty Ltd & Anor  FCCA 1277
Graphic design employee incorrectly classified as ‘independent contractor’
A Former Rejoice Chine Christian Communication Centre (Rejoice) employee made an unfair dismissal application under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), after alleging that she was in fact an employee and not an independent contractor.
Commission Nick Wilson held Ms. Leung was in fact an employee at Rejoice and not an independent contractor and had access to bring the claim. Commissioner Wilson referred to the graphic designer’s “regular work at the company offices, PAYG tax was consistently deducted from her pay, and that she (Ms Leung) was paid on the basis of the number of days that she worked rather than tasks completed” as reasoning for her employee status.
Yin Leung v Rejoice Chinese Christian Communication Centre  FWC 2981
Former Spotless employees granted thousands in damages due to privacy breaches after employer disclosed names to AWU and paid union fees on their behalf without their consent
Under a deal with the AWU, Spotless Group Limited (through a subsidiary) paid $25,000 per year in union fees to the AWU Victorian Branch and disclosed employee names in 2011 and 2012. The conduct came to light during the Heydon Royal Commission in 2015.
Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk held Spotless Group Limited “interfered with the complainants’ privacy by improperly disclosing their personal information and failing to protect their information from misuse and unauthorized disclosure.” 14 former employees were awarded damages of $3000 or $6000 each, depending on whether they were already AWU members at the time.
‘QF’ & Others and Spotless Group Limited (Privacy)  AlCmr 20