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Employment Relations

Who’s on the employment relations naughty and nice list?

BrightHR Australia 3 mins read

Who’s on the employment relations naughty and nice list?

We’re making a list; we’re checking it twice…

As we near the end of the year, it’s a good time to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of Australian employment relations.

There’s been no shortage of businesses making headlines in 2023, whether that’s for getting up to no good—or the contrary—there’s much we can learn from these scenarios.

Mollie Eckersley, Operations Manager at BrightHR ANZ, shares the list of the naughtiest and nicest business behaviours and the key HR lessons learned along the way.

Dreaming of a clean Christmas

“Qantas has been found guilty of unlawfully standing down a worker who raised COVID-19 safety concerns. The high-lift truck driver was stood down after he expressed his concern for the cleanliness of an aircraft returning from China in February 2020. The airline is due to be sentenced at a later date, but the judge has expressed that the driver attempted to carry out his duties as a health & safety representative conscientiously and carefully and that Qantas was in breach of workplace health & safety laws. Employers take heed of this not-so-Christmassy deed, as consequences for not staying in line with the latest health & safety measures can be drastic for your business and even lead to criminal sentencing such as this.”

All I want for Christmas is… the right pay!

“The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has found that mining giant BHP has been underpaying 30,000 workers since 2010. And if underpaying wasn’t enough to land them in trouble, they estimate it will cost a huge $400 million to pay back its employees, serving as a stark reminder for employers to check their audits and payroll records and systems are up to date, and that they have the right software to stay within the legal requirements.”

Slip a payslip under the tree for me—just make sure it’s not fraudulent!

“The FWO also found another employer, a cleaning business in Adelaide, submitted a fraudulent payslip. The investigation into the company was started following accusations from an employee that the employer had dismissed him without proper notice and failed to pay his final wage and accrued annual leave. The investigation concluded that the worker had not in fact been paid properly under his award and that the worker’s final payslip was fraudulent resulting in a penalty of $13,986. It's crucial to provide proper notice and payment to employees, and for businesses to maintain accurate records, ensuring that all employees are paid in accordance with their relevant award.”

Companies give employees the gift of more time-off

“To end on a slightly more joyful note, on the nice list we have Judo Bank, Commonwealth Bank, and NAB who were recently named Australia’s top companies to work for based on some rather unusual perks. Melbourne-based Judo Bank has been labelled one of the best companies to work for owing to staff perks like two weeks of extra annual leave to cover ‘big life events’ like marriage or moving house. In the true spirit of giving, they also even promised employees a yearly ‘happiness allowance’ to spend on things like health, family, and charity to boost employee satisfaction. Similarly, the other two banks NAB, and the Commonwealth Bank offered employees extra days of ‘life leave’ and ‘you leave’ for employees.”

Rocking around the Christmas free(bies)

“In a bid to keep workers happy during skill shortages, Victoria-based Only Hospitality Group offered their chefs an entire year of free accommodation in a staff house located opposite a beach in Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula with an annual wage of $85,000. And it seems the benevolent trend spread as The Smile Factory, a Newcastle dentist group, offered staff gym memberships as an extra perk.

“As a business, offering benefits to your employees is a great way to attract and retain the best talent. But, if those benefits are not well-received or don't meet the needs of your staff, then you're simply wasting time and money. To ensure that your benefits program is a success, it's important to listen to your employees, understand their needs and preferences, and offer a range of benefits that cater to different lifestyles and circumstances. By doing so, you'll not only improve employee satisfaction and engagement, but you'll also see a positive impact on your bottom line.”

About us:


BrightHR provides award-winning HR and H&S software and advisory solutions for SMEs, servicing over 100,000 clients in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and Ireland on workplace relations and workplace health & safety issues. It was founded in 2015 to help SMEs navigate their obligations under the relevant legislation. It does this via a suite of innovative applications and an advice line, where businesses can access people management tools, receive guidance and education, and speak with an experienced team of employment relations specialists.

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