A Snapshot of the New Labour Hire Licensing Laws

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Qld), which commenced on 16 April 2018, aims to protect workers from exploitation by providers of labour hire services and to promote the integrity of the labour hire industry through a licensing scheme.

The Act will apply to those who, as part of carrying on a business, hire out workers to another person or business, such as organisations that provide apprentices and temporary staff.

Some of the key features of the Act include:

  • Licensees being required to pass a fit and proper person test;
  • The entity providing the services to be financially viable;
  • Licensees to submit half yearly reports on their operational activities;
  • Strong penalties for breach of obligations;
  • The establishment of a labour hire licensing compliance unit, responsible for awareness, monitoring and enforcement functions.

A person may be seen as not fit and proper and therefore refused a licence if they have been convicted of a serious criminal offence, have been a bankrupt or disqualified from holding a directorship in a company or is under the control or influence of another person who is not fit and proper to provide the labour hire services.

The scheme will be regulated and managed by the Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit.

The expectation is that by 15 June 2018, anyone who provides labour hire services in Queensland must either have a licence or have submitted one. Licences are renewed annually and carry with it a licensing fee based on the amount of wages paid by the business.

If you are unsure whether your business will require a license or would like more information about the Act, please visit www.labourhire.qld.gov.au.

Crypto Currencies – The rise of the cashless society

A ‘Cashless Society’ describes an economic state whereby Financial Transactions are not conducted with money in the forms of physical banknotes or coins, but rather through the transfer of digital information (usually an electronic representation of money) between the ‘transacting parties’. Cashless societies have existed, based on barter and other methods of exchange.

Cashless transactions have also become possible using many different forms of ‘crypto currencies’ such as ‘Bitcoin’. A ‘Crypto Currency’ is described by Wikipedia as ‘a controversial digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions to control the creation of additional units and to verify the transfer or assets.’ Depending on whom you listen to and believe ‘Crypto Currencies’ may just be ‘the next big thing’ or a ‘total fraud’.

Using the example of ‘Bitcoin’ whilst there are many examples of individuals who’ve invested and made strong returns in relatively short periods of time there appear to be many strange terminologies used and old adage of ‘If it’s too good to be true…’ may just apply.

Like an investment, a sound knowledge of both the product and the market allow better opportunities to obtain strong returns on capital. Whilst there have been many articles and lots of discussions regarding these relatively new products they haven’t been around long enough to make a truly informed assessment. There has also been a great deal of negative press that have surrounded many of these new markets. ‘Ponzi Scheme’ along with other negative names have been used to describe these new markets.

Further, as these products are delivered on electronic platforms across many country borders, consideration should be given to the Legal and Taxation framework and jurisdictions that exist where the transaction will occur.

Not dissimilar to any new or emerging products and markets, the more research and advice from professionals will allow you, as an Investor, the best opportunity for success.

Once again, the Greek saying that translates to ‘Let the buyer beware’ should raise the appropriate alerts.

Travel Insurance and Credit Cards – what you need to know

Before your fly, check your travel insurance

It’s imperative for travellers to have a full understanding of their Travel Insurance Policies prior to heading off on their adventures.

Certain credit cards that have Travel Insurance Policies included as part of their offering sometimes have many limitations and exclusions that may cause heartache if not understood prior to departure.

There are many insurance products that are attached to credit cards that sometimes don’t provide adequate coverage. As travellers, we need to ensure that the coverage matches our expectations.

Some of the limitations of the credit card insurance policies don’t provide coverage for:

  • Terrorism related events
  • Certain international travel destinations

Certain policies are limited to provide coverage for medical expenses only and are often also priced accordingly.

Also, if you find yourself in a position where you need to make a travel claim here are some “tips” that may assist:

  • Get it down on paper – if you’re a victim of a flight or hotel cancellation or delay be sure to obtain written proof of such events from your airline and/or provider.
  • Keep receipts – Your insurer will require proof of payment/booking in order to settle your claim. Retaining boarding passes,

receipts or credit card statements further assist.

As always, contacting us, your broker, to advise of details of any potential claim with proof at your earliest opportunity will ensure prompt settlement of claims.

Further, by allowing us to view your existing coverage, prior to departure, will also allow for any “shortfalls or inadequacies” to be identified and the appropriate coverage obtained.

Don’t let the silly season get the better of you

Tips for keeping your home safe over Christmas

  1. Make your home less attractive to thieves.

Do this by investing in outdoor lighting and other visual deterrents such as alarms and CCTV cameras. If you are away for a period of time over the festive season, make it look like the house is still occupied.

  1. Check your alarm is in working order

Make sure your home alarm is in good working order prior to leaving for holidays.

  1. Protect your valuables

Never leave valuables in sight and consider investing in a safe for additional protection.

  1. Keep your presents safe

Expensive gifts on show under the tree are an invitation for burglars, as is any gift packaging left outside the home advertising any new and expensive items inside.

  1. Watch your posts on social media

Avoid publishing your holiday plans on social media.

  1. Position Christmas decorations strategically

Be aware of where you position your Christmas decorations, keeping in mind you want to ensure windows or doors are not obstructed.

  1. Leaving windows open

It may be warm and it’s tempting to keep the home open, but be aware of leaving windows and doors without security screens, open in empty rooms, especially if you are entertaining at the back of the house.

BREAK OUT: CHRISTMAS PARTY PLANNING

During the silly season there are plenty of things to think about, including if your office premises are safe and secure in the lead up to and during the holiday closure time.

The office Christmas party is always an opportunity to celebrate a successful year, but an important aspect to consider is the wellbeing of staff during Christmas parties.

Some things to consider include:

  • Health and safety of those attending
  • A clear end time
  • Do not endorse after parties
  • Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage
  • Alcohol – ensure there is RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) in place, particularly for a private party and ensure there are non-alcoholic options available
  • Consider transport options for staff to leave safely
  • Have a plan in place for any incidents
  • Review your office policies, particularly surrounding bullying, discrimination and adverse action and remind staff of these prior to the event.

Christmas Safety

Tis the season to avoid online scammers

In a bid to avoid Christmas crowds, online shopping during the festive season is very appealing. And while the ease and

convenience of shopping from the comfort of home is a positive, it’s still important to be aware of simple security measures to ensure it’s not the season to be scammed.

During heavy shopping periods such as Christmas, the risk of online fraud and scams increases.

 

Heritage Bank has provided some simple tips to help you stay safe while shopping online during the Christmas period.

  • Protect your privacy – When you shop online, only include relevant information and check privacy policy and security of sites you visit.
  • Read all the fine print – This includes

refund and complaints handling policies. Are there any hidden costs you’ll be hit with at the check-out? There could be conversion costs (for international purchases) or hidden fees.

  • Don’t overshare on social media – Check your social media privacy settings. Do not post personal information that will put you at risk.
  • Reject Scam callers – Financial

institutions will never make unsolicited calls or emails asking for your personal banking details or card details, so always check with your provider.

  • Be alert to ‘romance scams’ – Over the Christmas and New Year period in

particular romance scams cause millions of dollars of loss to Australians.

  • Don’t send your bank or credit card

details via email to pay for purchases – Only pay via a secure web page that has a valid digital certificate. It should have a

padlock symbol and an address starting with https://

For more details about reporting and identifying scams and fraud, visit the SCAMWATCH and Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network websites.

House deposits – is Airbnb the answer? New company offering down payments with a catch

Down payment with a catch

It’s getting harder and harder for many to enter the housing market, but a new start-up in America is making it a little easier for those wanting to purchase a home…but it comes with a catch.

A 29-year-old entrepreneur from Seattle, Yifan Zhang has come up with a service, called Loftium, which fronts up the cash for a down payment on a home with a proviso they continuously list their extra bedroom on Airbnb for one to three years and share the income with the company.

Zhang told New York Times the concept came about when she and her husband

purchased a home in Seattle and looked into renting the spare bedroom to generate extra income. But when she learned the amount could cover her mortgage or sometimes more each month, she decided to start up Loftium.

The company provides prospective home-buyers in Seattle with up to $50,000 for a down payment as long as the extra bedroom is listed continuously on Airbnb for one to three years and the majority of income is shared with Loftium during this time.

The start-up determines the size of the down payment its willing to put up through an algorithm that predicts how much income a room can generate.

The company then collects around two-thirds of the income, leaving the home-owner to take home part of the profit as well.

And if the room doesn’t generate the expected income (provided it’s not directly the result of the homeowner through bad reviews/lack of availability etc), the homeowner is not out of pocket and there is no expectation to pay the money back.

The concept is fine if you are willing to open your home to travellers in order to get in the housing market.

While Loftium currently only operates in Seattle, the company has plans to branch out to more cities within a year and it’s only a matter of time before a similar operation starts up in Australia.

New ID Scanning Laws – what you need to know

The new ID scanning laws came into effect in Queensland from 1 July 2017. The purpose of these laws is to identify individuals who are the subject of banning orders to the various licenced pubs, nightclubs and bars around town.

In short, all licensed venues that ordinarily trade past midnight in the Safe Night Precincts, including the CBD and Fortitude Valley, are required to have approved ID scanners installed at each entry point to their venue. They are also required to scan the ID of all patrons entering their premises after 10pm, with some exceptions being hotel guests and people attending functions at the venue.

The scanners are linked to an approved ID scanning system which allows the cross-checking of an individual’s ID to any known bans held by the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.

The concern for many people is the retention and use of their personal information obtained through these ID scanners. To address this issue, the scanning system will automatically delete the scanned information after 30 days and access to the scanned data is restricted, with the scanning system keeping a record of all those that log on to the system. Further, all licensed venues must still comply with their obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) in relation to the protection of personal information recorded by the scanners, which includes compliance with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).

Venues may only use personal information for the primary purpose for which it is collected.

It may also use the information in other limited circumstances, such as direct marketing, but must make patrons aware of the intended use of the personal information, and give patrons the option of not receiving the direct marketing, at the time of collection.

If an individual suspects there has been a privacy breach of their personal information they can first lodge a complaint to the venue directly and thereafter a complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner if they believe the venue has not appropriately dealt with the complaint within 30 days of receiving it. For more information visit the Queensland Government website

Travel Insurance Review

The Insurance market is reviewing cover in respect to mental illness. At the time of writing, some policies specifically exclude mental illness whilst others are reviewing their cover. Most travel policies do not automatically cover you for claims arising from, or exacerbated by, any existing medical condition unless you disclose that condition and the Insurer agrees to extend the policy to cover the existing condition.

Usually this is completion of a simple questionnaire to enable the insurer to assess the risk and advise you their decision. With an existing medical condition, it is important to identify a date of the first diagnosis. If you recently had a medical procedure e.g. knee replacement, even though you are happy about your current state of health, it is always best to declare the procedure to the insurer. It is better to declare now and be accepted by the insurer prior to commencement of the cover than have to sort a problem out at time of claim.

It is important that you check the policy you intend to purchase and understand the conditions of the policy. Many people make the mistake of not taking out the policy before making that first trip deposit. If you delay, it may reflect on what you can claim.

All Insurance policies require full disclosure of any matter that may influence the insurer. Corporate Travel Policies are much less restrictive than “standard” travel policies, in regard to pre-existing medical conditions, so talk to us about any concerns you have.

Social Media…grounds for termination?

The Fair Work Commission has increasingly been required to review issues raised by the use of social media in the workplace.

The proliferation of, and use of, social media sites, with nearly 70 per cent of Australians on Facebook and around 20 per cent on Instagram and Snapchat, has resulted in employees posting comments which often extend far wider that they had anticipated.

Businesses have begun to realise that social media can be used by their employees in inappropriate ways, which might damage their business.

It isn’t particularly surprising that a number of unfair dismissal claims have ended up before the Fair Work Commission, arising from posts on social media.

 

The following cases provide some useful tips:

  • An employee was sacked after posting that their night out was spoiled by someone having a heart attack.
  • An architect was dismissed for excessively using social media during working hours…allegedly more than 3,000 in a three-month period. It was found that the employee wasn’t given an opportunity to respond prior to the dismissal and was found to have been unfairly dismissed.
  • An employee posted a crude and threatening Facebook rant on his home computer outside of working hours and while he had blocked the fellow employee who was the subject of the rant, other employees read the post. It was found that the action of the employee amounted to serious misconduct and the dismissal stood. Although not naming the employer when posting comments about their boss, the dismissal was upheld on the basis that anyone who knew the employee would know that the comment related to their workplace.
  • Photos of employees planking in dangerous positions resulted in dismissal

The old saying “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, no longer applies and with virtually everyone with a mobile phone and people connected 24/7, nothing goes “unseen” and problems which previously would have been left at work when everyone goes home, now follow people home after work, which can lead to social media bullying and employees venting their frustration.

Nevertheless, employees have a right to free speech and privacy, so there must be a legitimate connection to the workplace and the conduct must damage the reputation of the business.

The Fair Work Commission has however, confirmed that a social media policy is a legitimate exercise of a business power to protect the security and reputation of their business…but it is vital that the business has a social media guideline in place, which is clearly communicated to all employees and obtains an acknowledgement that the employee has read and understood it.

Training is an important foundation to effectively enforce your social media policy. The policy should address bullying, cyber bullying and the use of social media… including what behaviour is appropriate and acceptable and what is not. It must also be clear that they will continue to apply, even outside working hours and also make it clear the consequences for failing to comply with it

Employment Contracts

An Employment Contract is an Agreement between an Employer and an Employee that sets out Terms and Conditions of Employment.

A Contract can be in writing or verbal. It’s certainly preferable to be “in writing” because should a dispute occur this will be the information that is relied upon to gain resolution between the “Parties”.

An Employment Contract cannot provide for less than the legal minimum set out in the National Employment Standards (NES). All employees are covered by the NES, regardless of whether they’ve signed a contract. A contract can’t make an employee worse off than their minimum legal entitlements. In some circumstances there are minimum awards, enterprise agreements or other registered agreements that may apply.

When setting out the Terms of Employment it’s prudent to include -:

  • Annual Base Salary
  • Superannuation
  • Minimum Hours of Work
  • Additional Benefits

As suggested above when providing a “Job Offer” benefits such as motor vehicles, mobile telephones, car parking, job sharing, working from home etc. should all be outlined together with maximum costings attached so there is a full understanding by all parties.

The more well-informed and equipped an employee is the more likely they are to perform their role better. It’s also prudent to sit down with future or new employees to discuss the Employment Contract and obtain

their feedback or questions so that there may then be no ambiguity going forward.

In the large majority of situations it’s best to consult a Lawyer who specialises in Contract Law so that the document then becomes Legally binding. Source(s) used: National Employment Stand-