Mr Aaron Goonrey

Aaron Goonrey


Employment & Immigration

Poorly managed performance improvement plans: how to avoid adverse action claims
Australia | 08 January 2020

In an ironic turn of events, a poorly implemented and followed performance improvement plan (PIP) resulted in an employer having to pay A$205,342 to an employee who had brought a successful adverse action claim in the Federal Circuit Court. The court held that the employer had contravened the general provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009. This article provides practical tips on how employers can avoid a PIP resulting in an adverse action claim.

When disaster strikes: managing employees following a natural disaster
Australia | 18 December 2019

The current fires in New South Wales and Queensland are a timely reminder for employers to review their business arrangements for responding to such crises, particularly in workforce management, and ensuring that they have a plan in place to deal with the aftermath. This article provides some guidance on the kinds of things that employers need to think about following a natural disaster.

Freedom of expression versus work obligations
Australia | 16 October 2019

The Federal Court recently upheld an employee's dismissal, which had occurred after he criticised his law firm's clients in an opinion piece in two newspapers. While the court's decision is not a green light for employers to terminate employees who express political views, it is a reminder for employers and employees that a failure to follow a lawful and reasonable direction may justify termination of employment (depending on the circumstances of the case).

Get your hands off my… data! Employer's request for biometric data deemed unlawful
Australia | 07 August 2019

The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission recently found that the direction given to an employee regarding the solicitation and collection of his biometric data was unlawful because it was inconsistent with the Privacy Act. The decision is a reminder to employers that directions to employees must be lawful and reasonable. If not, dismissal of an employee for failing to follow such direction will likely be unfair.

The untouchable employee and dangers of playing office politics
Australia | 15 May 2019

Following a recent Federal Court decision, a power solutions company was forced to reinstate a senior employee who it had fired three years previously and pay him A$1.1 million in back pay. This case serves as a reminder that employers must be aware of the dangers of unlawfully terminating an employee, particularly given that the employee may be reinstated into their position should it be held that they suffered adverse action.

How to nurture an ageing workforce
Australia | 03 April 2019

Ageism is one of the most reported types of discriminatory behaviour. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, more than one-quarter of Australians aged over 50 have experienced age discrimination in the past few years. This issue will affect everyone and has long flown under the radar. So, what can workplaces do to best manage an ageing workforce and tackle ageism?

Do employees have the right to remain silent?
Australia | 06 March 2019

The Fair Work Commission recently addressed a case in which an employer – a self-proclaimed 'Nazi sparky' – tried to force one of his apprentices to provide him with information. The crux of the issue was whether an employee's common law right against self-incrimination (ie, the right to remain silent) prevents employers from requesting information from employees while conducting investigations.

Fair Work Act changes: end of 2018 and for 2019
Australia | 02 January 2019

The coalition government made a significant drive into the workplace relations space in December 2018 with the passage of new legislation designed to simplify and streamline the Fair Work Commission's award review and enterprise agreement approval processes. The key change is the removal of the present requirement in the Fair Work Act 2009 for the Fair Work Commission to conduct four-yearly reviews of modern awards.

Crucial work health and safety lessons from Klooger ruling
Australia | 19 December 2018

The Fair Work Commission's recent decision in Klooger will undoubtedly be the subject of considerable analysis as the developing gig economy forces employers to ask what employment in Australia will look like in 2019. The commissioner's comments clearly show that an approach to work health and safety which actively seeks to circumvent such obligations may lead courts and tribunals to more willingly characterise gig economy engagement models as traditional employment relationships.

What happened to casual employment? A look at WorkPac v Skene
Australia | 28 November 2018

A recent Full Court of the Federal Court decision has set off alarm bells for employers that engage casual workers. The court found that a 'fly-in, fly-out' worker was not a casual employee despite being employed as one. Accordingly, the employee was entitled to annual leave – a benefit not otherwise available to casuals. This decision raises many significant questions and issues, going to the very nature of what makes casual employment relationships 'casual'.

Sweetheart, let's talk about gendered language
Australia | 21 November 2018

While using terms like 'sweetheart' and 'babe' in the workplace may come from a friendly place, they may cause female staff to feel undervalued and could land individuals in hot water. It should go without saying that using terms like 'chicks' and 'babes' to refer to female colleagues and employees is inappropriate. But what about 'ladies', 'girls', 'sweetheart' or 'love'?

Should employers use an external team when investigating sexual harassment?
Australia | 03 October 2018

Recent claims against politician Barnaby Joyce show that sometimes an internal investigation into workplace sexual harassment is not the best idea. When sexual harassment or misconduct claims are made against an individual in an organisation, the natural reflex may be to deal with complaints internally (especially if the person is senior or high profile). However, the benefits of engaging an independent investigator can outweigh the seeming advantage of being able to fully control the matter internally.

Understand your company's values to ensure that its culture thrives
Australia | 12 September 2018

Employees will not come forward and report troubling behaviour if they fear retaliation. There are a number of steps that employers can take to create an atmosphere of trust and candour, which will help to reassure employees that they can, and should, voice any concerns.

What HR needs to know about modern slavery legislation
Australia | 25 July 2018

The Modern Slavery Bill 2018 (NSW) has received assent, making the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) the first of its kind in Australia. The act addresses the findings and recommendations in the report on the inquiry into human trafficking in New South Wales, which left little to the government's imagination about the prevalence of modern slavery in New South Wales and throughout Australia.

Got the gig? Worker classification in gig economy heats up
Australia | 18 July 2018

The line between employee and contractor continues to be blurred in the gig economy. To avoid litigation, companies must determine how to classify workers. The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched legal proceedings against a food delivery business, Foodora, on the basis that it treats its workers as independent contractors rather than employees. While the gig economy awaits the outcome of the case, what should employers be doing in the meantime?

Visual contracts and pitfalls of employment agreements
Australia | 27 June 2018

Visual contracts, in which an employment agreement is conveyed partially or wholly by pictures, are now a thing – but what are their benefits and risks? In addition to concerns over certainty and variation, there are a number of key issues that businesses should consider before getting out the watercolours to update their employment agreements.

Navigating the murky waters of employee bonuses and incentive payments
Australia | 13 June 2018

Navigating the payment of bonuses or incentive payments can be a tricky legal issue. One question that clients regularly ask is how discretionary is an employer's discretion when it comes to awarding a bonus or setting an employee's annual remuneration? As with most legal issues, there is no quick answer, but there are some tips from case law which can provide guidance.

How to manage the challenges of an ageing workforce
Australia | 06 June 2018

The effects of Australia's ageing workforce are expected to be so pronounced that the government has budgeted for retraining. Between the tax cuts and promises to return to surplus, one of the centrepieces of the 2018 Budget was increased funding to assist Australia's so-called 'greying' population. To manage the changes to Australia's demographics, employers should start to prepare for an ageing workforce and develop strategies to manage and retain older workers.

How to deal with difficult people in a workplace investigation
Australia | 02 May 2018

Managing a workplace investigation can be challenging at the best of times, particularly where the complainant or alleged offender proves difficult. Employers should consider a number of issues that can arise when managing absent participants or vexatious employees in the context of an investigation, as well as various tips on how to move forward successfully.

A guide to handling #metoo in the workplace
Australia | 14 March 2018

The #metoo movement has helped to expose the prevalence of sexual harassment in society, particularly in the workplace. While the spotlight has been on individuals working in Hollywood's film and television industry, a 2012 survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 25% of women in Australia had been sexually harassed at work. Three key tips can help employers to support gender equality, prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and ensure that no one is alienated in the process.