Tuesday, 9 December 2014

End of Year Wrap Up 2014 – A New Public Holiday In The Works?

Victorian Election 2014

The Labor Government’s election victory last Saturday may see a number of changes introduced in the New Year. In his pre-election publications, Mr Andrews set out a number of policies he will seek to implement in the following areas:

Payroll tax

The Labor government has proposed to establish a $100 million fund for payroll tax relief to eligible companies that hire young unemployed people, long-term unemployed or retrenched workers. The fund will provide a payroll tax rebate of up to $1,000 for each eligible worker hired by a company. Relief for eligible workers may include training, uniforms, transport and tools. From 1 July 2015, 50,000 payments will be available per year for two years. Payments will be made as payroll tax rebates after eligible workers complete a three month probation.

The Back to Work Bill will be the first bill introduced by Parliament before Christmas this year.

Public holidays

The Labor government has proposed a new public holiday on the Friday before Grand Final day. In discussing the proposal during a number of media appearances last week, Mr Andrews said that the new public holiday would allow more Victorians to attend the Grand Final Day parade. He also explained that the holiday will benefit families and tourism and capitalise one of the major Victorian events.

Looking Forward

The above proposed changes, if implemented by the Labor Government, are likely to affect most businesses, in particular, small to medium sized retail and hospitality businesses who will be hit with the additional cost of paying penalty rates on the new public holiday. All employers should make sure that management is aware of these upcoming changes and when necessary make sure that management is trained in their requirements.

End of Year Bash

Employers should be aware that they are obliged to ensure the health and safety of employees at end of year functions and Christmas parties, even if the function takes place out of the office and/or outside business hours. Inappropriate behaviour by employees at Christmas parties may expose employers to a variety of legal risks, including discrimination, sexual harassment, or workers compensation claims and even breaches of health and safety obligations.

In order to minimise the legal risks that may arise at end of year Christmas parties, employers should ensure:

  • That workplace policies and procedures and codes of conduct are current and readily accessible to employees before the function. Employees should be reminded of their obligations ahead of any Christmas functions and made aware that any inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated
  • Alcohol is served responsibly and ensure that service of alcohol is refused to any employee who drinks to excess or reaches their limit
  • They have considered how employees will travel to and from the function and consider providing cab charge vouchers, booking a minibus or assisting employees with carpooling
  • That one or more employees are responsible for monitoring, reporting or intervening in any inappropriate behaviour
  • That any reported inappropriate behaviour is investigated and addressed in a timely manner
  • That any misbehaviour at Christmas functions (or other misconduct or disciplinary issues) are addressed prior to the Christmas break prior to employees commencing leave over the Christmas period

If you have any questions about any of the above, do not hesitate to contact HR Legal on the details below.


This article was produced by HR Legal. It is intended to provide general information only in summary format on legal issues. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such.