The FWO has launched a test case against the operator of a pop-up toy store, seeking to reverse the onus of proof for underpayments and rely for the first time on serious contraventions provisions that potentially expose the company and its director to 10 times the ordinary maximum penalties.
Business representatives, unions and legal practitioners speaking at this year's NSW IR Society conference agreed that the industrial relations system is far from "fixed", but split on causes, consequences and possible solutions.
The head of Western Australia's Industrial Relations Commission has vented her frustration at the efforts of an unfair dismissal advocate by expressing a desire for legislative changes that would empower the tribunal to "discipline" underperforming agents.
A lawyer accused of bullying has failed to convince the Federal Court that it should stop a law firm from potentially expelling her as a partner because it treated her less favourably than male colleagues, the court holding that conduct that included an "inflammatory" letter following the complaints set her circumstances apart.
Incoming IR Minister Christian Porter says he is open to meeting "serious members" of the union movement, while arguing that Australia has "soundly rejected class warfare" at the recent Federal election.
A senior FWC member has lamented the continuing "abuse" of the Commission's stop bullying jurisdiction in refusing to shield a casino employee from the consequences of conduct that included repeatedly spitting into a bin.
A senior FWC member has told an IR conference that problems associated with a "radical disjunct" between the common law and award definitions of casuals will "snowball" if not resolved, while the cause of stunted wage growth in the face of strong labour market conditions lies beyond orthodox thinking.
The FWC has slammed a childcare centre for a "hopelessly flawed investigation" that led to a teacher being sacked over false allegations she mistreated a child, suggesting the owner should claim his money back for poor legal advice.
Future union membership numbers will depend on how effectively unions organise without being able to rely on the political system delivering changes to workplace laws, according to an expert on employment relations.