Union News

REST BREAKS ALLEGEDLY EXCHANGED FOR A SOFT DRINK OR A TRIP TO THE TOILET

The SDA say it's seeking compensation for more than 250,000 current and former employees of 323 McDonald's operators in a RAFFWU-backed class action.

There is abundant research establishing the importance of taking rest breaks at work to health and wellbeing. Indeed, the Fast Food Award Industry Award entitles employees to a 10-minute paid break for shifts of four hours or more, on top of an entitlement to an unpaid meal break for those working five or more hours, and two 10-minute paid breaks if they work nine hours or more.

The SDA is alleging "not only were McDonald's workers not informed of their rest break entitlements, they were also told breaks could be exchanged for a free soft drink or going to the toilet".

According to claims set out in the union's court documents, workers had to seek permission to take a break and employers only granted it to go to the toilet or have a drink, with the latter generally required to be a "particular type of drink, obtained from a particular machine, of a specified quantity, and consumed standing in a specified place".

Further allegations include managers not granting permission stop work for 10 consecutive minutes "except in very rare cases associated with illness", and permission for a toilet or drink break was also "revokable" or withheld if a restaurant was considered too busy.

Source: Workplace Express 15 August Shop, Distributive And Allied Employees Association v Bandec Pty Ltd & Anor, SAD127/2022

ASK RENATA

If we host a BBQ for staff, do we need a food hygiene certificate?

Interesting question, food service and safety is a highly regulated area! In this instance, it is unlikely you would be required to have a Food Handler’s Certificate, as the Food Safety Act does not apply if you are not selling food.

The Food Act 1984 provides the regulatory framework for the food industry to ensure that food sold in Victoria is safe, suitable and correctly labelled.  Given the situation you have briefly described appears as though you are holding the BBQ for staff, the Act would not apply in this situation, given that you would not be charging your colleagues for the food on offer.

Through the lens of occupational health & safety however, given it is undertaken in the course of your employment, the usual health and safety duties of employers apply under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

Under Section 21 (2)(e) of the Act employers must provide training and supervision to employees so that they can perform their work in a safe way without risk to health. Arguably, although you may not be required to have food handling certificate under the Food Safety Act 1984, may form part of a duty of the employer under the Occupational Health & Safety Act to ensure food is handled safely.

We would still encourage you to consider accessing the free training module delivered by the Department of Health, DoFoodSafely which can be accessed here.

Finally, it is worth investigating if your employer has a policy guiding the running of internal parties or events and the preparation or procurement of food for these events. You should also consider any requirements laid out in these documents.

COVID-19 LATEST NUMBERS

On Tuesday 16th August Victoria recorded:

4,858 new daily infections 
20 COVID deaths
535 hospitalisations, 18 in ICU and 9 of these are on ventilators

Cumulatively this equals:

2,518,701 total Victorian infections
4,975 Victorian COVID deaths (an increase of 180 since last week)

You can check the Victorian live update here.

Australia: As of 16th August, there have been a total of 9,830,093 COVID cases (an increase of 145,451 since last week) and 12,959-deaths, an increase of 520 since last week.

World: As of 16th August 2022, there had been 596,179,834 worldwide infections (590,106,544 last week). The number of official COVID-related deaths is now 6,456,952 (Source: Worldometer).

Read more: Coronavirus; COVID-19 Victorian situation.

VACCINATION UPDATE  

89.30% of all eligible Victorians (5+), as of 16th August, have received their second dose, 91.02% their first dose.  For the third dose the figure is 69.5% (16+).

The figure for all eligible Australians (5+), for the same date is First Dose 92.84%, Second Dose 90.08%, and the third dose 68.7% (16+).

Check COVID-Live for Daily Updates

MONKEYPOX UPDATE

On 23 July 2022, the World Health Organisation declared Monxeypox a global health emergency. This is a result of the ongoing worldwide outbreak since May 2022.

The virus is spread from person to person through respiratory/airborne transmission. Health workers and members of the same household as someone who is infected are most at risk of transmission due to being in close contact with them. The symptoms of Monkeypox include fever, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, fatigue and lesions on the skin.

With the virus being first recorded in humans in the 1970s, the smallpox vaccine was demonstrated to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox at the time, however, the original smallpox vaccines are no longer available to the public. Currently in Victoria, there are 3,500 doses of Jynneos- the third-generation smallpox vaccine- available at clinics with eligibility limited. High risk close contacts, laboratory workers who analyse monkeypox specimens, and population groups who are at higher risk of transmission, are all eligible for the vaccine.

It is important to ensure our workplaces are safe from outbreaks of infectious disease, so regular cleaning of shared surfaces, proper ventilation, hand washing and limiting of skin-to-skin contact are all practices that can help prevent the spread of monkeypox.

Source:World Health Organisation - Monkeypox  , Department of Health - Monkeypox Vaccines

1 IN 3 HARASSED OR BULLIED IN NSW PARLIAMENT - REPORT

An investigation into the culture of NSW parliament has found one in three respondents had experienced sexual harassment or bullying in the past five years.

A major review of misconduct makes multiple recommendations on prevention with the Premier claiming "we will fully support the Parliament in implementing the report recommendations" which include mandatory training as implemented in Federal parliamentary last year.

The report highlights the need to reduce barriers to reporting, with 60 per cent of respondents agreeing it was too difficult to speak up. 69 per cent of those who did make a complaint indicated there were no consequences for the perpetrators.

Additionally concerning is that victims reported "repercussions" for making complaints, career damage and forced resignations, due to no confidentiality in processes. Survivors describe feeling "alone" and "powerless" to do anything about inappropriate behaviour.

Among respondents, 36 per cent indicated they had experienced some form of bullying or sexual misconduct in the last five years, with nearly one third saying it lasted a year or longer. Women, young people and those who identify as LGBTQ+ were found to be particularly vulnerable, with MPs and men being the most common perpetrators of misconduct.

"Bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct are not even included in the MPs code of conduct," one submission to the review said.

Source: OHS Alert, 15 August 2022 Leading for Change: Independent Review of Bullying, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct in NSW Parliamentary Workplaces in 2022

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