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Employment Law (Vic)

Many aspects of Victorian employment law are governed by the federal Fair Work Act 2009. These include key employment standards concerning work hours, the minimum wage, leave, and other conditions. However, workers’ compensation and work health and safety laws are set out in state legislation. This article deals with employment law in Victoria. 

Workplace health and safety laws

The work health and safety rights and obligations of Victorian employers and employees are outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the OHSA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007. Other sources, like the WorkSafe Victoria compliance codes and the Victorian OHS Compliance Framework Handbook, also provide guidance on how to put these law into practice.

WorkSafe Victoria also issues policy statements from time to time. These stipulate how the laws and regulations operate. These laws, regulations, and codes apply to all Victorian workplaces except Commonwealth government agencies.

Victorian Work Health and Safety in Employment Law

Both workers and employers in Victoria have responsibilities when it comes to work health and safety. Employees have a duty to carry out their work in a way that does not harm their health or safety or that of others. Employees must notify their employer of any work-related illness or injury within 30 days of becoming aware of it. 

Employers must also understand their duties relating to work health and safety. These include maintaining a safe workplace and ensuring the safe handling of potentially dangerous materials or items. Employers must support workers by giving staff sufficient information, training, and supervision to facilitate healthy and safe working conditions. In addition, they need to consult employees on health and safety issues. Under Section 21 of the OHSA, an employer could be fined up to $265,000 (individuals) or $1,328,000 (bodies corporate) for a breach.

Workers’ Compensation in Victorian Employment Law

If a person experiences a work-related injury, they may be eligible for compensation. Victorian law requires employers with more than $7,500 in annual payroll to maintain WorkSafe insurance for their employees. Employers are required to do so even if they only have one employee, which may be an apprentice or trainee.

Workers’ compensation law in Victoria is governed mainly by the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013. This covers the claims process, return to work rights, eligibility for compensation, and other workers’ compensation issues. The law also sets out the process for using the Accident Compensation and Conciliation Service, which can be used to resolve a dispute between employer and employee. Commonwealth employees are covered by federal workers’ compensation laws.

Victorian Employment Law and Bullying

Most employees in Victoria are protected against bullying in the workplace under the Fair Work Act, but state legislation offers additional protection against bullying. Victoria criminalised workplace bullying in 2011. Section 21A of the Crimes Act 1958 outlines what can be considered bullying and makes the crime punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. Making threats, speaking in an abusive manner and acting in an offensive or abusive manner are some of the types of conduct that could be considered bullying under Victorian law. There are also provisions for internet-based bullying and stalking.

Discrimination and Equal Opportunity

Federal laws on discrimination – including Section 351 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) – apply to most Victorian employees, however, Victoria also has anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws which apply to Victorian employees (except Commonwealth employees). The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects employees from being discriminated against on the basis of certain attributes and activities including sex, age, gender identity, parental status, marital status, sexual orientation, employment activity, political beliefs and physical or mental impairment.

If a person believes they have been discriminated against at work contrary to employment law in Victoria, they might be able to complain to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or make a claim of discrimination in court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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